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Atomic City Update: LAHS winter sports have a tough act to follow

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By Phil Scherer

Just as one sports season comes to a close, another is ready to take over and kick into high gear. The fall sports season at Los Alamos High School proved to be extremely successful, as five of the school’s six teams competed for state championships, and one team, boys’ cross country, took home the blue trophy for the championship. 

It really is amazing to me to see how successful the athletes at LAHS are, and it makes me even more excited to watch the basketball, wrestling, swimming and hockey teams step into the spotlight. 

I don’t know if all of those teams will be as successful as the fall sports, where the Hilltoppers normally dominate. 

But I think the teams are capable of exciting moments and could take this community on an exciting ride into early March. 

There are plenty of things to be excited about as the winter sports get underway. The top thing that I am looking forward to seeing is how the girls’ basketball team develops under new head coach Lanse Carter. 

Last year, it was obvious that many of the girls on the team were talented, and showed flashes of brilliance. 

But under the leadership of former head coach Josh Archuleta, flashes are all that ever came. 

Now, with a coach that has won state championships at district rival Pojoaque Valley High School in the past, I think the Hilltoppers are capable of surprising some people. 

The thing that stands out the most for the team is its height advantage, something very few teams enjoy. 

Juniors Natalie Gallegos and Becca Green will provide the Hilltoppers with a size advantage every time they step onto the court. 

Combine that with the shooting ability of several players, and LAHS could be dangerous. I am very excited to watch it all unfold. 

I am also excited to see how head coach Mike Kluk and the boys’ basketball team adjusts to so many new faces. 

Nearly all of last year’s top contributors have graduated, and almost every player will be taking on a new role. The big question is how quickly can Gavin Campos, David Owen and Gabe Holesinger embrace being the top players, and how quickly will chemistry develop? It will be fascinating to see. 

The wrestling team has the potential to take a big step forward this year, and sophomore Devin Atencio will be key in that development. Last year, as a freshman, he won the individual state championship in his weight class. Now, he will look to follow that up this year. 

I think many of the other wrestlers on the team are capable of taking big steps forward, and the team could compete for district and state titles if everything goes their way. They will be fun to follow all season. 

The swim team is in a similar situation. After showing signs of great things toward the end of last season, the team appears poised for a breakthrough this year in the pool and off the diving board. 

The continued development of last year’s top swimmers, as well as the emergence of new swimmers will determine the success of this year’s team. 

And in the hockey rink, the Hilltoppers are looking for a rebound after last year’s disappointing finish. 

With top players Jacob Dunwoody and Jared Carnes returning, and with freshman Conner Cook emerging as a scoring threat, the Hilltoppers could be in for a big turnaround this year in a competitive league. 

No matter what, it is always fun to see new sports get underway. The fall season provided endless entertainment and drama, and I expect more of the same as the temperatures continue to get colder and new sports get underway.