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Toppers, Chargers to tangle again Friday

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Cross country: LA, Academy still the cream of 4A crop

By The Staff

Los Alamos’ Hilltoppers and Albuquerque Academy’s Chargers will face off for the second time during the 2011 cross country season on the Chargers’ home turf.
Los Alamos will take part in the Albuquerque Academy Invitational Friday afternoon. The invitational, a mid-sized meet that nonetheless usually boasts a crop of good talent, is run on the dusty trails on Academy’s expansive campus.
The Hilltoppers are perennial competitors at the Academy Invitational. In the 2010 race, the Hilltopper girls finished fourth in the team standings, running without one of their top athletes, Victoria Honnell, while the Hilltopper boys were third overall.
Academy won the 2010 boys team title with a scant 28 points, while La Cueva finished with 84 points in the runner-up spot. Eventual Class 5A champ Eldorado nipped Academy 81-87 to take the girls title.
This will be the second time the two programs have met this season. The Hilltoppers and the Chargers faced off in their season opener, the University of New Mexico Invitational.
At that meet, the Hilltopper girls pulled off a victory, winning by 20 points over runner-up Eldorado, while the Hilltopper boys finished within three points of Academy’s Chargers.
In the girls race, Teresa Sandoval was the top finisher on the day, posting a time of 19 minutes, 24 seconds, immediately marking Sandoval as a legitimate contender for the Class 4A individual title.
Sandoval, however, sat out the following week’s race at La Cueva due to soreness in her feet. Also missing from the La Cueva race were Los Alamos runners Jennifer Mooday and Emily Pittman who were feeling under the weather.
For the boys, Los Alamos has rarely been within striking distance of Albuquerque Academy at this point of the season. Even during its state championship years of 2003 and 2007, Los Alamos lagged behind Academy scoring-wise the entire season, although the later in the season it got, the more Los Alamos was able to close that gap.
Nick Hill was Los Alamos’ top finisher at the UNM meet, while Alexander Romero paced Los Alamos’ boys at La Cueva.
Both the Hilltopper teams were idle last week, but have two big meets coming up over the next eight days, including the Academy meet and the Twilight Cross Country Festival in Phoenix Sept. 30.