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  • ’Topper girls tennis in the hunt for a team title

    The Los Alamos girls tennis team should be in the mix for a state team title once again this year.
    Similar to the last few years, the Hilltoppers, Farmington and Albuquerque Academy are expected to battle it out for the top spot.
    “I guarantee it will be one of those that will win (state),” Los Alamos girls head coach Bruce Cottrell said. “I don’t think anyone can say we will win state, but we can all say that we can win state.”
    The Hilltoppers made it to the state semifinals last season where they fell 5-3 to the eventual champion, Farmington. Los Alamos only lost one senior from last year’s squad, so it will have essentially the same cast of characters on the court again.
    With all of those girls back, depth will be the team’s biggest strength.
    Farmington’s biggest strength, on the other hand, is in doubles, while Academy has the top two players around.
    Sidra Hsieh-Ratliff finished fourth in state singles last year and will lead the Hilltoppers. Laura Whicker also played in the state singles tournament, but lost to the eventual state runner-up in the first round.
    Astrid Hengartner returns with state doubles experience as well.

  • Pajarito ready for powder-filled weekend

    After a lot of sunny days this winter, dark clouds and snowy weather returned to northern New Mexico last week.
    Pajarito got 4 new inches of snow last night, 5 the night before and 11 since it was open last Monday.
    “It’s a blessing from Mother Nature,” Pajarito General Manager Tom Long said. “We wish it would have come in December, but we’re happy to have it. It made the conditions even better.”
    The 11 inches of new snow didn’t enable Pajarito to open any new terrain, but it did make the conditions on the trails that were already open nice and soft. Friday’s snow in particular was cold and dry — the definition of powder.
    “It should make for really fun skiing,” Long said.
    Snow is in Pajarito’s forecast for the next week also. Depending on how much snow actually falls, Long said they might be able to get the mountain 100 percent open.
    Right now, the front side is essentially 100 percent open while trails on the town side are still just a little too thin.
    The mountain’s tree skiing, however, is starting to be ok in spots.
    “The timing (of the storm) was good,” Long said. “We’re looking forward to a nice weekend.”

  • Hilltoppers dig deep to reach district basketball final

    By the third meeting between the Los Alamos girls basketball team and Del Norte, head coach Nestor Trujillo had a pretty good idea what he wanted his team to do against the Knights.
    He knew their tendencies and which matchups he wanted to take advantage of.
    Two of Del Norte’s post players, however, were injured in their win against Bernalillo Tuesday.
    Without them, Del Norte came into the District 2-5A semifinal and gave Los Alamos a different look. For the first half, the Hilltoppers were stifled.
    “I think Del Norte brought it,” Trujillo said. “Obviously it was a rough blow for that team and I think it’s human nature to take them a little lightly.”
    Los Alamos won the game 40-36 to reach Saturday’s 7 p.m. district championship game at Española Valley, but it certainly wasn’t the team’s prettiest win of the season.
    “To be able to grind it out and find a way to win I think says a lot about these kids,” Trujillo said.
    Ashlynn Trujillo grabbed an early rebound and assisted Amber Logan on a fast-break bucket.
    After that, both team’s shooters got cold. Los Alamos led 9-7 after the first quarter and went into halftime tied with Del Norte at 14.
    Coach Trujillo said he felt “fortunate” the game was tied.

  • Hilltoppers reach district championship game

    The Los Alamos girls basketball team beat Del Norte 40-36 Thursday to earn the right to play for the district championship. That game will Saturday at Española Valley, 7 p.m.

    The Hilltoppers were sluggish early, but went into halftime tied at 14.

    Del Norte took a 16-15 lead in the third, but then Los Alamos came alive. Jordan Duran made three field goals to spark a 9-2 run. The Hilltoppers stayed aggressive and scored more points in a four-minute span than they had the previous 20 minutes. They took a 29-20 lead into the fourth.

    Del Norte got back within 1 point of Los Alamos halfway through the fourth, but the Hilltoppers were able to finish on top.

    Ashlynn Trujillo led Los Alamos with 15 points — 10 of which came in the fourth. Duran and Amber Logan both finished with 6. Los Alamos also got points from Sofia Roybal (5), Makaela Jones (4), Shannon Irwin (2) and Ashley Logan (2).

  • Hilltoppers enter baseball season with work to do

    Los Alamos’ baseball team has had an interesting start to its season. Some days it has practiced on the football field, some days it has had to work out in the weight room and other times it has actually got to play on their baseball field.
    “We still have a lot of work to be done,” manager Michael Gill said. “We’re not there yet.”
    This Saturday, they’ll play their first games of the season against Piedra Vista — the defending state champs.
    The good news for the Hilltoppers, who won their sixth straight district title and went 22-7 last year, is they have seven starters back to lead them.
    “We have a good core coming back,” Gill said. “On paper it looks good.”
    The team, however, doesn’t want to look too far ahead. It just wants to play a good ball game every game. To break it down even further, it wants to take the season one pitch at a time.
    Pitching will be the team’s strength this season. “We have a great pitching staff,” Gill said.
    Jared Mang, Connor Mang and Koby Leeches are a few of the team’s pitchers that will challenge opposing lineups. With them throwing hard, the defenders in the field will be just as important to help Los Alamos shut opposing offenses down.

  • Hilltoppers to host Del Norte in basketball semi

    The Los Alamos girls basketball team will host Del Norte tonight in the District 2-5A semifinal at 7 p.m. The winner will get to play for the district championship Saturday at Española Valley.
    So far there hasn’t been any upsets in the district tournament. Bernalillo (7-20, 3-7 2-5A) beat Capital (1-26, 0-7) in the first round 74-51. Del Norte (15-10, 6-3) then took down Bernalillo 43-28 in the district quarterfinal on Tuesday.
    Los Alamos hopes to continue that streak tonight, and then end it on Saturday.
    The Hilltoppers have beat Del Norte both times they’ve played this season.
    These games are also important for the state playoff picture. MaxPreps has Los Alamos predicted to get a No. 6 seed, Del Norte a No. 14 seed and Española Valley a No. 4 seed.

  • Moore sets record with championship swim

    The Los Alamos High School swimmers kept their strong tradition alive last weekend at the state championships.
    The Hilltopper girls finished third to bring home a state team trophy while the boys, led by Michael Moore’s individual state championship, finished sixth.
    “I was very happy,” head coach Stuart Corliss said. “I’m proud we can go toe-to-toe with the bigger schools.”
    Senior Michael Moore finished his prep swimming career in dominating fashion in the 500-yard freestyle. Moore won the state championship in 4 minutes, 40.19 seconds, breaking the Los Alamos school record that had stood since 1997 in the process.
    “I was really proud of Michael Moore,” coach Corliss said. For the first 200 meters Moore swam with his competition, “then he just pulled away,” the coach said. “I think he has a pain threshold that’s different than most people.”
    Moore also finished third in the 200 freestyle (1:44.24).
    Alex Jaegers was the other member of the boys’ team to make it into an A-final. He took eighth in the 100-free (50.27).
    The Hilltopper girls also had some stellar performances to make it into A-finals and place well.
    Jessica Moore finished third in the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.19.

  • Moore is long-distance champ

    Los Alamos’ Michael Moore picked up a state championship in the final individual race of his career Saturday.
    Moore, a senior with the Hilltopper boys swim team picked up a decisive victory in the 500-yard freestyle to upset the No. 1 seed in the state at the championship meet.
    The state title meet was Friday and Saturday. It was hosted by Albuquerque Academy.
    In the 500 freestyle championship, Moore completed the race in 4 minutes, 40.19 seconds, that was nearly 4 seconds better than Cibola’s Jacob Harlan.
    Moore, who went through the regular season undefeated, suffered his one and only loss earlier in the day when he placed third in the 200 freestyle, but came back with the big victory in the long race.
    Harlan had the best time of anyone in the state heading into the event, about 2 seconds better than Moore’s best time during the regular season, but he only finished fourth in Friday’s preliminary round behind Lee Moffett, another top-seeded swimmer from Sandia, Moore and Paden Simms of Clovis.
    In the championship, however, both Moore and Harlan got off to a fast start. Harlan had the fastest 50-yard split at 24.63, but Moore was right behind him at 24.88.
    The two were neck-and-neck until about the final 150 yards when Moore started to pull away.

  • LA boys basketball falls in opening round of tourney

    SANTA FE — Despite some late-season improvements, finding those elusive wins never materialized for the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys basketball team.
    Los Alamos, as it has done for a good portion of the final three weeks of the season, had a solid game against a vulnerable team Monday night, the Capital Jaguars. Unfortunately for Los Alamos, it still wasn’t enough to get a win or to keep its season going.
    The Hilltoppers led by a point at the half against the Jaguars in the opening round game of the District 2-5A tournament, but couldn’t keep their momentum going in the third quarter as the Jaguars took over control of the ballgame.
    Ultimately, the Jaguars would prevail 61-48 at Edward Medina Gymnasium. They will now move on to play the Bernalillo Spartans tonight in the tournament’s quarterfinal round.
    The Hilltoppers end their season with a record of 2-25.
    Even with the improvements the Hilltoppers made down the stretch — the offense was considerably more willing to attack the basket in the latter half of the season, a big part of that improvement — there were still the lapses that haunted the team throughout, another of which occurred Monday.

  • Saunders wins his 2nd state title in overtime

    RIO RANCHO — Before 2013, it had been close to 20 years since a Los Alamos wrestler had won a state individual championship.
    Before last season, it had been close to 20 years since Los Alamos boasted a two-time champion.
    But Saturday, Lane Saunders became the second consecutive state champion for the Hilltoppers.
    Saunders capped a 1-loss junior year Saturday by knocking off the only wrester to have beaten him in 2014-15, Andres Villa of Goddard, to win a second state title.
    To say Villa and Saunders are familiar with one another is an understatement. Little either does surprises the other and on the mat they let each other know about it.
    “He shot a double-leg at me and I told him, ‘I knew you were going to do that,’” Saunders said. “Then I shot a single-leg and he said ‘I knew you were going to do that.’”
    But in the end, Saunders earned the victory, although he had to do it the hard way, taking a 1-0 triple-overtime victory over his toughest foe.
    The two wrestlers trudged through a relatively uneventful regulation time, although Villa very nearly escaped from the bottom early in the second period, which would’ve ultimately won him the bout, before Saunders dragged him back to the ground.