• Wendelberger set to finish career with a bang at state

    In 2013, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls track and field team has a chance to cement its place as one of the elite programs of all time.

    Leading up to this season, that move was led by one of the most charismatic athletes the program had ever seen, Chase Ealey. But now, the responsibility of leading the charge toward state-level immortality falls on a much more low-key team captain.

    The Hilltoppers’ efforts heading into the final two weeks of the season are being guided by senior Laura Wendelberger. Wendelberger has carved her own niche in Hilltopper history, but unlike her predecessor, has done so with considerably less flair and with good ol’ fashioned sweat.

    But even though Wendelberger is set to make her fourth appearance at the state meet for Los Alamos, the pre-championship jitters have already begun to set in.

    “It’s kind of nerve-wracking,” she said. “But all I can do is run my best. I won’t let people’s expectations change my mindset.”

    With Ealey, the two-time high-point athlete at the state meet now having a standout freshman year for Oklahoma State University, those looking to see if Los Alamos can pull off the 5-peat will have their eyes set squarely on Wendelberger.

    History has shown, however, that she should be up to the challenge.

  • 'Toppers face No. 1 seed in playoffs

    In the opening round of the Class 4A baseball tournament last weekend, the Los Alamos Hilltoppers seemed to have a tough draw when they faced off against the Aztec Tigers.
    Thursday, the Hilltoppers seem to have a tough draw as well, but the Hilltoppers are hoping they rise to that challenge the same way they rose to the challenge against the Tigers.
    Los Alamos, the No. 8 seed in the 4A playoffs, advances to play the No. 1 seed, the Piedra Vista Panthers, in Thursday’s quarterfinal round. The Los Alamos-Piedra Vista contest is scheduled for noon at La Cueva High School in Albuquerque.
    That Los Alamos (19-9) is squaring off against Piedra Vista should come as no surprise. The Panthers (19-9) have been the top 4A team in the state all season and are the three-time defending state champions.
    Los Alamos got to see Piedra Vista first hand in the first two games of the 2013 regular season. At Ricketts Park, one of the top venues in the state for baseball, the Panthers thumped the Hilltoppers in a doubleheader, 12-0 and 9-1. The Hilltoppers managed just one hit in the first game and four more in the nightcap.
    The season-opening losses were part of a rough stretch for the Hilltoppers to start.

  • Elkins wins at the Pace Race

    Paul Elkins was the top predictor in the Atomic City Roadrunners’ pace race last week.
    The Pace Race was run at the Ponderosa Campground Trail in Bandelier National Monument.
    Elkins finished 27 seconds off his predicted finish time Tuesday, 20 seconds better than runner-up Ted Williams. No other participant came closer than 108 seconds to their actual finish time.
    The fastest finisher on the 1-mile course was Tom Sandford, who finished in 13:13. Sue Elkins came in at 16:45.
    On the 3-mile course, Ted Romero was once again the fastest finisher, posting a time of 18:54.
    Also on the long course, Roxanna Candia finished in 28:00.
    The next Pace Race, the Roadrunners’ annual staggered start run, will be tonight starting at Piñon Park in White Rock. Race time is 6 p.m.
    Interested participants can find more information about the Atomic City Roadrunners by calling 672-1639 or visiting the club’s website, atomicrunners.com. 

  • LA wins big again at district

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls and boys track and field teams both kept their undefeated streaks alive at Saturday’s District 2-4A meet.
    This year’s meet was hosted by the Santa Fe Demons.
    Los Alamos’ girls, who are again the team to beat heading into the state Class 4A meet this weekend, won a comfortable victory, scoring 196 points to defeat runner-up Santa Fe by 72 points in the final standings.
    The Hilltopper boys, meanwhile, crushed all comers, outscoring the Nos. 2 and 3 finishers, Capital and Santa Fe, put together. They finished with 192 points.
    Los Alamos hasn’t lost — or even been seriously challenged — at the 2-4A meet since the district was formed in 2001.
    At the meet, Laura Wendelberger won all four of her individual events, including the high jump, long jump, 100-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles.
    Hilltopper head coach Paul Anderson, who has never had a team finish worse than third in his 14 years of leading the girls program, said he was glad to see several of his athletes qualify at the district meet — the top two district finishers move on to state regardless of their finishing marks — but knows there are bigger fish to fry this week.

  • LA downs Farmington 5-4 to win 4A crown

    ALBUQUERQUE – Bruce Cottrell didn’t even pretend he didn’t know where his program stood historically.
    “This is our eighth victory, one more than Academy,” he said immediately after watching his Los Alamos Hilltopper girls win the Class 4A state tennis title Saturday night.

    But Cottrell, the longtime head coach of the team, had to sweat out its championship match against the four-time defending champion Farmington Scorpions.

    Los Alamos seemed to have the match well in-hand after going 4-2 in the singles competition, but dropped two of the first three doubles contests to Farmington, leaving the No. 2 doubles teams to battle it out for the state title.

    But in the late evening – the singles matches were interrupted by a rain delay of about 33 minutes – the team of Susanna Lucido/Colleen Fitzsimmons finished off Farmington’s Allie Linville/Sydney Schumacher in straight sets to upset the Scorpions and claim the Hilltoppers’ first team title since 2008.

    Even though Los Alamos won the No. 2 doubles title in straight sets, even the second set win didn’t come easily.

  • LA tops Farmington for 4A title

    ALBUQUERQUE – The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls tennis team pulled off an upset to snap the Farmington Scorpions’ four-year stranglehold on the top spot in Class 4A.
    Los Alamos held on through a tense team battle Saturday at the Jerry Cline Tennis Center, winning four singles matches but falling 2-0 in two matches in doubles before the No. 2 doubles team of Susanna Lucido/Colleen Fitzsimmons downed Allie Linville/Sydney Schumacher 6-0, 6-4 to clinch the state team title.
    More information on Los Alamos’ state championship run will be in Tuesday’s Los Alamos Monitor.

  • 'Toppers close out Aztec, advance in state playoffs

    In the bottom of the fifth of a tight ballgame Friday, the Los Alamos Hilltoppers exploded. The Aztec Tigers imploded.

    Los Alamos pushed eight runs across in the bottom of the fifth to close out game one of the best-of-3 series in the first round of the Class 4A baseball tournament Friday. Los Alamos had three hits in the inning and Aztec committed five errors including a wild throw to the plate that brought home Trevor Pacheco to close out the contest early.

    The Hilltoppers won Friday’s game at Bomber Field 11-1.

    The Hilltoppers closed out Aztec Saturday with a 9-4 victory as it rallied from a 4-0 deficit at Bomber Field by scoring four runs in the fourth inning and adding five more in the fifth.

    Los Alamos likely will play top seeded Piedra Vista Thursday at LaCueva High School. Jake Downs got the win for the Hilltoppers, going the distance giving up eight hits.

    Friday’s game had all the earmarks of a pitcher’s duel early, with Tanner Moore retiring five straight to open the game – he struck out Los Alamos leadoff batter Connor Mang to open the first but Mang reached base on a passed ball. Moore probably didn’t realize it at the time, but that passed ball would be a harbinger of things to come.

  • LA teams advance to Thursday's 4A quarterfinal round

    ALBUQUERQUE — For the 2013 state Class 4A tournament, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls tennis team advanced three doubles teams and a singles competitor to the quarterfinal round.
    And while all three Hilltopper girls doubles teams survived into Thursday morning’s play, by the end of the quarterfinal round only the team of Madeline Margevicius/Gillian Hsieh-Ratliff was left standing.
    Margevicius/Hsieh-Ratliff would go on to win the Class 4A title. The other two Los Alamos teams, however, earned tough quarterfinal draws.
    The Hilltoppers’ team of Susanna Lucido/Colleen Fitzsimmons, which was seeded No. 4 for the tournament, had a tough draw in the quarterfinal round, facing fifth-seeded Maddie Andersson/Jenna Coyle of Mesilla Valley Christian. Mesilla Valley is a small private school in Las Cruces that is Class 2A for most sports but plays up for tennis.
    Despite a gritty effort, coming back from a set down, Lucido/Fitzsimmons fell 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
    The two teams played a tight contest for most of the first two sets. Andersson/Coyle picked up a critical early serve to go up 3-0 in the first set but Fitzsimmons held on her serve and the Hilltopper team followed that up with a break of Andersson to move within 3-2. The Mesilla Valley team would take the next two games to pull away.

  • LA doubles team wins 3-set thriller over Farmington

    ALBUQUERQUE — There was little in the recent history of either Los Alamos or Farmington girls tennis to suggest the Hilltoppers stood much of a chance in the Class 4A doubles title match.

    But that didn’t deter either Madeline Margevicius or Gillian Hsieh-Ratliff Thursday evening.

    Margevicius/Hsieh-Ratliff came out firing in the first set, winning five straight games to set the tone against the powerful Farmington Scorpions’ squad of Molly Merrion/Danielle Nguyen.

    Then, when Los Alamos needed it, the Hilltoppers put together a nearly-unstoppable attack at the net, putting away Merrion/Nguyen in a classic title match, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.

    “It’s surreal, it’s liberating,” said Hsieh-Ratliff, a five-year veteran of the program who had never tasted a state title until Thursday. “I feel like my senior year ended on a nice note. I’ve worked since eighth grade. All that’s come together…working so hard, but it’s all been worth it.”

    Hsieh-Ratliff crushed an overhead volley right in between Merrion and Nguyen to put the final touches on the upset victory. Margevicius/Hsieh-Ratliff entered the 4A doubles draw as the No. 3 seed, while Merrion/Nguyen was the top seed.

  • Margevicius/Hsieh-Ratliff win 4A doubles crown

    ALBUQUERQUE – The Los Alamos Hilltopper top girls doubles team of Madeline Margevicius/Gillian Hsieh-Ratliff upset the No. 1 seed from Farmington to capture the 2013 state Class 4A title.

    Margevicius/Hsieh-Ratliff picked up the first set, then, after Farmington’s Molly Merrion/Danielle Nguyen earned a second set victory, bounced back to win the decisive third set.

    Hsieh-Ratliff crushed a volley coming into the net to secure Los Alamos’ 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win and the state doubles title.

    More information on Los Alamos’ state championship will be in Friday’s Los Alamos Monitor.