Hilltopper girls track and field team aim for another title

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By Mike Cote

In less than two weeks’ time, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls track and field team will be testing its mettle at the state Class AAAA championship meet.

Between now and then, however, Los Alamos will try to catch up on it very important work of staying sharp and getting healthy.

If Friday’s Los Alamos Qualifier is any indication, the Hilltoppers won’t have a lot to worry about this weekend when they try to grab their ninth straight District 2AAAA title.

Los Alamos pummeled the other four competing teams Friday, scoring 103 points more than all of them put together to win team competition for the fifth straight outing and sixth time in seven tries.

Along the way, Hilltopper Emily Weeks shattered the school record in the long jump, a mark which she’d though she eclipsed earlier this month at Sullivan Field.

Weeks leapt 17 feet, 4-1/4 inches at the Los Alamos Quadrangular April 10, which was believed to be a school record, but some controversy arose over whether the record needed to be set by the quarter-inch or the half-inch. Even a former Los Alamos track and field coach e-mailed the Monitor shortly after the story ran to argue against the mark.

But Weeks left no controversy Friday, beating the 17-4 school record originally set by Vicky Rojas in 1983, leaping 17 feet, 7 inches.

The leap as it stands is the second-best in the Class AAAA to date.

Hilltopper head coach Paul Anderson said after the meet that most of the athletes have qualified in most of the events that he was expecting going into this season, so that will give his squad some leeway this last two weeks of training.

 “We haven’t had that luxury always,” he said. “Other years, we’ve had to use some studs to get a last relay in. Now we can see what people can do. We’ll be about as close to 100 percent as you can be this time of year.”

Michelle Earley equaled the season-best mark of Amanda Trujillo to earn a qualifying mark in the 300 hurdles Friday, picking up a time of 48.46 seconds to win the event.

It wasn’t all good news coming out of Friday, however, with a pair of key athletes, Holly Walker and Lindsay Benage, both suffering ankle injuries at the meet.

Both appeared to roll their ankles during the meet, with Walker’s ankle ballooning up shortly after her win in the 800 meters.

Taylor Ealey, potentially a big component to the Hilltoppers’ run toward a state title, also came up gimpy, having to jog the last 20 meters of the 800-meter relay. She left the track complaining of knee problems, something that’s been nagging her for much of the season.

While not earning state qualification times Friday, Kelsey Neal pulled of an impressive double-win in the 1600 and 3200 runs.

Neal had never run track prior to this season, but has found distance running appealing.

“This is the first time I’ve done it,” Neal said of competing in the two longest events of the meet. “It was pretty difficult. I didn’t’ think going in I would make it but it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.”

Neal said she probably wouldn’t attempt running both races at the 2AAAA meet, although with Española Valley and Taos, the district teams with arguably the best distance runners outside of Los Alamos, she could potentially win both and qualify for state in both.

Los Alamos won all but one event Friday and took at least two of the top three spots in all but one other non-relay event.

Weeks was also a dual winner Friday, earning the victory 200 meters as well. Her time of 25.81 is the best time of the season posted in Class AAAA by nearly half a second.

Other top performances for Los Alamos included Taylor Ealey’s big win in the javelin, Kim Carson’s win in high jump, Victoria Trujillo’s come-from-behind win over teammate Keyla Tumas in the 400 and the 400 relay team’s 4-plus-second victory to lead off the day.

The Hilltoppers aren’t likely to receive much of a challenge for the district title, especially considering Taos and Española Valley combined only for 26 points total and neither Capital nor Bernalillo bring much to the table competitively.

Los Alamos will have its eyes on a bigger prize, however, as it will go into the state championship meet on the shortest of short lists to win the title.

“We’ve got to start putting the pieces together,” Anderson said. “We’re looking at two more weeks.”