Hilltoppers have several returners this season

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Swimming: LA will need big showing from junior class

By Mike Cote

It’s time to hit the pool once again for the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys and girls swimming teams.
The Hilltopper teams open their 2012-13 season Saturday with their annual appearance at the Barney Relays. The Barney Relays, which feature the top teams in the state, are hosted by Albuquerque Academy.
Los Alamos will have most of both teams’ state qualifiers back from a year ago. It graduated just one senior from the boys side and one from the girls.
For head coach Rusty Bernstein, he also said the turnout of talent was better than he was expecting.
“Everything is looking pretty good,” he said. “We have a much bigger team than I thought we were going to have originally. A lot of kids earlier on, in September, said they were going to be too busy with school, kind of like what happened last year when we had four senior boys not swim.”
However, most of the kids that approached him saying they were planning on not taking part this season changed their minds and are back in the pool.
The Albuquerque Academy Chargers are again among the teams to beat. But for the first time since 2006, the Charger boys won’t be heading into the season as the state champions.
Eldorado earned a solid victory over Academy at last season’s state meet, earning 340 total points, 99 better than the runner-up Chargers. On the girls side, however, Academy earned 339 points to win going away while Las Cruces finished as the state runner-up.
Los Alamos’ girls, who were hoping to crack the top five heading into the state meet last year, were eighth overall with 114 points while the Hilltopper boys finished 22nd out of 30 scoring teams at the state meet.
This year’s state meet is scheduled for Feb. 22-23.
Bernstein said he feels the team’s freestyle swimmers will be strong, with good depth, and the Hilltoppers should be solid in the backstroke.
The girls will have an experienced junior class, including Maria Venneri, who took part in four state meet events last year and Ashlynn Bennett, who swam in three events at the state meet.
Trey Pereya and Connor Schultz, also both juniors, are among the top returners for Los Alamos on the boys side. Pereya and Schultz swam the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle events at state.
Schultz, however, is scheduled to swim with his club team at out-of-state meets during the month of December and could miss out on the first two meets of the season, including one of the Hilltoppers’ two home meets.
Los Alamos will once again be without any boys divers, although most of its girls divers are scheduled to be back.
It will take some time, but Bernstein said the team has already showed improvement during the preseason and should be solid come district meet time — the District 1 meet will be in Farmington a week before the state meet.
“Last year we went with mainly freshmen,” Bernstein said. “Now, they’re bigger, taller and stronger. They’re swimming faster than they were this time last year.”

2012-13 Roser

Head Coach

Rusty Bernstein (5th year)

Senior boys

Rohun Iyer, Alan Jiang
Jordi Kandarian
Gabe Montoya, Dalton Smith

Junior boys

Ben Liu, Trey Pereya
Connor Schultz

Sophomore boys

Nick Greenfield, Sam Harris,
Karim Ismail, Jenz Hampel
Wajeeh Qureshi, Max Reidys
Chris Rohlev, Nick Torres

Sophomore boys

Nick Greenfield, Jenz Hampel
Sam Harris, Karim Ismail
Wajeeh Qureshi, Max Reidys
Chris Rohlev, Nick Torres

Freshman boys

Ben Reidys, Jovan Zhang

8th grade boys

Steven Chen, Alex Jaegers
Justin Lemke, Aneesh Pawar
Alex Tarantello, Mark Torres

Senior girls

Simona Martin

Junior girls

Tracee Abieta, Safiya Bahar
Ashlynn Bennett, Ali Berl
Kerry Song, Maria Venneri
Anna Wermer, Justine Yang

Sophomore girls

Sydney Trujiilo

Freshman girls

Fiona Leikness, Sara Lott
Emma McKinley
Isabelle Runde
Sydney Schoonover

8th grade girls

Kaitlin Bennett, Lily Johnson
Caemlyn Tripp

2012-13 Schedule

Dec. 1: at Barney Relays, 10:30 a.m.

Dec. 7-8: Los Alamos Invite, 5 p.m.

Dec. 22: at APS Winter Break Invite, 9 a.m.

Jan. 12: Los Alamos Invite, TBA.

Jan. 18-19: at Academy Invite, 4 p.m.

Jan. 26: at Artesia Invite, TBA.

Feb. 2: at Griffin Invite, TBA.

Feb. 9: at APS Year End Invite, 9 a.m.

Feb. 15-16: District 1 meet (Farmington) 9 a.m.