Weekend sports: Swim teams hit their home water

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By Mike Cote

After a relatively quiet last two weeks, the Los Alamos Hilltopper teams will get back into the swing of things starting this weekend.All the Los Alamos varsity squads will be in action this weekend. The ’Topper swimming and diving teams will be at home Saturday, the wrestling team will travel to Los Lunas for a tournament, also on Saturday, and the girls basketball team will play at Santa Fe Friday.Los Alamos’ boys basketball squad will be at the Poe Corn Invitational through Saturday.

Swimming and divingThe Hilltoppers have gone through hell and back the past two weeks.The aptly-named “Hell Week” wrapped up last week, in which the teams upped their workout intensity as much as double compared to their regular training schedule. The workouts were scaled down this week in preparation for Saturday’s meet at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center.Los Alamos has altered its lineup in many events this week trying to squeeze out a couple of extra qualifying times to give itself more flexibility when the state championship meet comes around in less than two months.“These are not necessarily our best events,” Los Alamos head coach Bev Leasure said. “We’re just seeing where we’re at. We haven’t swum (a meet) since Dec. 22.Leasure said the tough training over the break seemed to pay dividends.As a boon, a club team from Minnesota was in town last week training at the Walkup Center and the team’s coach gave the Hilltoppers some good technique pointers.Sandia, Eldorado and Albuquerque High are all expected to compete Saturday. Albuquerque has been particularly competitive this season, finishing third at the Albuquerque Public Schools meet two weeks ago in girls competition and winning the boys competition.Leasure said she’s particularly interested in seeing how her starters do after both the intense training of the week before and the fact she will sit most of them for the Jan. 11 St. Michael’s meet.

Girls basketballGetting and staying in the win column has been the big challenge for the Hilltoppers this season, but things might be turning around following a couple of impressive wins at last week’s Holiday Hoop-la in Las Cruces.Bouncing back from an opening-round loss to El Paso (Texas) Hanks, Los Alamos picked up a pair of wins over El Paso Andress and Socorro (Texas) in the consolation bracket.Taylor Ealey, whom the Hilltoppers have been waiting to break out in a big way, might have had that breakout series over the weekend, pumping in 24 points against Andress and 17 more against Socorro.Also in the paint, Bryanna Richins got into double-figures all three tournament games.Moreover, Los Alamos got more good minutes from its bench, something Washburn is ecstatic to see with less than three weeks remaining until his team’s District 2AAAA opener.Keyla Tumas, who has contributed in numerous non-statistical ways over the early part of the season, had a good defensive effort as the sixth man coming off the bench, as did Sarah Worland.Los Alamos’ opponent, Santa Fe, has been in a similar situation so far this season. After a slow start, the Demons (6-6) have been hovering around the .500 mark for the bulk of the season.

WrestlingLos Alamos will have a quick turnaround in preparation for Saturday’s Los Lunas Invitational.After facing Española Valley and Bernalillo Wednesday, Los Alamos will head down for the Los Lunas tournament, where it will face about a dozen other schools.The short week will be complicated by two injuries suffered Wednesday, to Kory Nelson and Eric Neff.“Without the injuries, it wouldn’t be a big deal,” Los Alamos head coach Eric Sorenson said. “With it being a triangular (Wednesday), most of our kids didn’t get too beat up.”These two back-to-back events will come after a week off the team had for the winter break.Because of wrestlers who are out of town or who are ineligible until after the break, Los Alamos was going into Saturday’s event short-handed even before the injuries to Neff and Nelson.Sorenson, however, said the team will be getting more people back following the break, and could have as many as 11 wrestlers competing soon.Blaine Lattin, at 189 pounds, is having a strong early season. Lattin finished third at the tough Piedra Vista Invitational, his only loss was against eventual weight-class champ Jesus Moreno of Piedra Vista, then won both his bouts at Wednesday’s triangular.