LA’s boys, girls cruise to 12th consecutive district title

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The District 2-4A cross country championship race over the previous 11 years had been more formality than competition.
That didn’t change any on Friday.
Los Alamos’ cross country teams were once again dominant at the district championship. Los Alamos, hosting the meet at Los Alamos Golf Course, swept both titles handily, with the Hilltopper boys grabbing a perfect score of 15 to earn their 12th straight district title.
In the girls race, the Hilltoppers cruised to finish with 20 points, easily outdistancing runner-up Bernalillo by 41 points.
Individually, Hilltoppers Jordan Parker and Alexander Romero scored impressive wins with each of them grabbing their first career district titles.
Parker, a sophomore who spent the 2010 season on the C team, kept pace right with Hilltopper veterans Jennifer Mooday and Teresa Sandoval thoughout the race. Mooday started to slip back at about the halfway point, however, and Sandoval slid back with about three-quarters of a mile remaining, leaving Parker by herself.
“I felt relaxed and comfortable with the pace,” Parker said. “But when Teresa started to fade, I started to freak out. I’ve never been in front of a race before.”
But Parker finished just fine, posting a time of 20 minutes, 8 seconds, seven seconds ahead of Sandoval, the runner-up
Los Alamos’ girls picked up five of the top seven slots in the race. Santa Fe’s Greta Miller finished third and Bernalillo’s Kiona McCulley was fifth.
In the boys race, Romero, the team’s lone senior, was running behind the lead pack of teammates Sean Reardon, Nick Hill, Zak Kennison and Española Valley’s James Espinoza through the opening half of the race.
But Romero picked up steam around the halfway point and took off from there. After taking the lead with about a mile remaining, Romero was hardly bothered at the front of the race.
“I kind of went with the downhills,” said Romero. “The downhills really help with increasing turnover. I’m glad they were there.”
Behind Romero, Reardon, Hill, Kennison and Daniel Romero helped complete the perfect score. Colin Hemez, in sixth, was also in before the next competitor from any other team crossed.
In the girls race, Elizabeth Turner, another first-year varsity runner, was fourth overall. Janali Gustafson finished sixth and Mooday came in seventh to clinch the win.
The district meet is the lone opportunity for teams to qualify for the Class 4A championship race, which is scheduled for Saturday at Rio Rancho High School.
“You don’t want to let down mentally,” Los Alamos co-head coachKathy Hipwood said of being the heavy favorites coming in. “They have team goals and individual goals and I think they met those goals.”
Los Alamos’ girls are the two-time defending state champs and haven’t been defeated by a Class 4A team in New Mexico this season. Los Alamos’ boys have finished second nine times out of the past 11 state title races, all of those finishes behind Albuquerque Academy, and last won the state title in 2007.
With Friday’s win and a solid second place finish the week before, Los Alamos’ boys are expecting a big showing this season.
“We’re excited for state,” Romero said. “We’re all excited. We’re going to go out, put on our good hooves at state and we’ll see what happens.”