LA boys, girls run at UNM on Friday

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Cross country: Both teams heading into 2012 as defending 4A champions

By Mike Cote

It is a common position to be in for the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls cross country team, but not so much for the Hilltopper boys.
Going into the 2012 season, the Hilltopper teams are both solid favorites in Class 4A. Rarely is a team other than the Albuquerque Academy Charger boys the favorite.
But after losing just one senior off a team that demolished all comers at the 2011 state meet, including the vaunted Chargers, the Hilltoppers are doubtlessly the team to beat.
“We’re trying not to think about it,” said returning runner Orion Staples. “Obviously, Academy’s still a major threat. Again, we’ve got to run the hardest. It’ll be good if we can beat them.”
The Hilltopper boys will be paced by senior Sean Reardon, who had a monster track season. His spring culminated in an upset victory over Del Norte’s Jackson Thomas in the 1,600 meters and a runner-up finish behind Jackson in the 3,200.
Reardon posted his best finish ever in last weekend’s preseason dual against La Cueva, a notable 5A program.
Los Alamos has been a regular participant at the University of New Mexico Invitational, where the teams will open their season Friday.
This year’s UNM Invitational, which is run at the college’s North Golf Course, will institute some important changes, the biggest being the race will be run at night. The varsity girls and boys races will be run under the lights – the course had to be modified to accommodate the lighting fixtures and may be lightning fast. Staples said the winner at UNM, which attracts most of the top runners from around the state, might have to break 15 minutes.
The Hilltoppers are the reigning boys and girls 4A champions, with both teams scoring hefty victories last November.
The Hilltopper girls will return some key members of that team for this season, including seniors Jennifer Mooday – who was battling through a leg injury during track last spring but is running strong this preseason – and Teresa Sandoval. Along with them, the Hilltoppers have what is almost certainly the deepest lineup in the state with as many as a dozen girls vying for varsity time this year.
Los Alamos already owns a record 16 state titles and, if it can stay healthy, appears to be right in line to add to that total.
Sandoval said having high expectations on the team is something of a mixed blessing.
“You have people out there looking for you so there’s going to be pressure for you to succeed,” said Sandoval who finished sixth individually and third on the team in 2011. “But it’s also kind of fun.”
Los Alamos girls may still need to hold off the St. Pius X Sartans, who had strong distance runners for their spring track team, and Academy’s Chargers, who will now be helmed by Adam Kedge, the school’s excellent boys coach.
Because of several odd schedule conflicts this year, Los Alamos will be using a heavily-altered schedule. Most notably, the Hilltoppers won’t be making an appearance at either the Rio Rancho Jamboree or the Academy Invitational, two meets where they have been fixtures for several years.
“This year, not going to Academy or Rio Rancho, I was a little disappointed,” Sandoval said. “I was hoping my senior year to be able to race those.”
Los Alamos will send its teams to the Desert Twilight Festival in Mesa, Ariz., and to a meet in Socorro, that head coaches Rob and Kathy Hipwood heard was a good one, in September.
The Hipwoods, who are among the most decorated coaches in the history of New Mexico prep sports, were recently named to the state cross country and track Hall of Fame and were honored as Los Alamos’ top coaches of the 2011-12 season.
They said things have gone according to plan in the preseason.
“We’re definitely pleased with the start of the season and with the conditioning of the kids,” Rob Hipwood said. “There seems to be a lot of kids that came prepared for this season.”

2012 roster

Head coach

Rob and Kathy Hipwood (19th year)


Miranda Barraza

Rosa Durrer

Talia Dreicer

Madison Foley

Sophia Galvez

Janali Gustafson

Amanda Mercer

Jennifer Mooday

Jordan Parker

Emily Pittman

Mikayla Pulliam

Eliana Riciputi

Teresa Sandoval

Katy Stockton

Elizabeth Turner

Nica Vasquez

Anna Wermer

Mariah Bayless

Katie Bowman

Haley Butler-Moore

Chelsea Chalacombe

Alex Chavarria

Rory Cooley

Dana Crooks

Allie Cunningham

Bridget Daughton

Astrid Hengartner

Chloe Keilers

Erin Kennison

Grace Kim

Elsie Koskelo

Megan Kuzmack

Becky Mehlin

Hannah Morgan

Allie Parker

Sara Stubben

Rachel Wallstrom

Justine Yang

Morgan Apperson

Justine Dombrowski

Lauren Fugate

Miranda Honnell

Celeste Levy

Roxanne Lopez

Marcela Mas

Mille Nikolajsen

Bella Saeger

Marissa Salazar

Morgan Trujillo

Sydney Trujillo




Connor Bailey

Aaron Bao

Daniel Dunning

Jeremy Goettee

Colin Hemez

Nick Hill

Zak Kennison

Victor Kim

Sklyer McCall

Sean Reardon

John Rees

Daniel Romero

Aaron Roybal

Gus Saeger

Noah Simpson

Orion Staples

Mike Walker

Greg Ahlers

Evan Anderson

Rigel Baron

Jared Borrego

Devon Conradson

Marcus Gutierrez

Drew Hollis

Johnny Jacobs

Nathan Lang

AJ Makela

Wesley Moss

Nate Phillips

Alex Shirey

Ben Shirey

Cameron Staples

John Valdiviez

Greyson Venhaus

Hayden Walker

Forrest White

Tom Hanlon

Nick Hayes

Isaiah Lang

AJ Makela

Ryan Mielke

Sam Newell

Samuel Sherrill

Sam Wolfe

2012 schedule

Aug. 31: at UNM Invite, TBA

Sept. 21: at Socorro Stampede, 4 p.m.

Sept. 28: at Desert Twilight Festival (Mesa, Ariz.), 5 p.m.

Oct. 13: at Los Lunas, 10 a.m.

Oct. 26: Los Alamos Invite, 3 p.m.

Nov. 2: District 2-4A Invite (Española Valley), 3 p.m.