LA's Reardon poised for a big finish

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Cross country: Top ’Topper runner broke out at 2012 state track meet

By Mike Cote

It would seem to be something of a meteoric rise. In fact, it was anything but.

With the 2012 cross country season winding down, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys standout Sean Reardon seems primed to make one of the biggest splashes on a team that’s making big waves.

Reardon, with a big showing his senior year, has established himself as one of the runners, if not the runner, to beat this postseason. He will show his stuff at Friday’s District 2-4A meet and the following week’s Class 4A championship.

With five top-five finishes this year, including his first career victory at Los Lunas and a third-place finish at the regional Desert Twilight Meet in Phoenix last month, Reardon has every right to start taking things for granted. But, as with the entirety of the Hilltopper cross country program, he doesn’t afford himself that luxury.

“We’re planning to get the job done at district and going into state feeling strong,” Reardon said. “We’re confident in our abilities to peak.”

Reardon has been a steady runner for the Los Alamos cross country and track programs since 2010.

In the 2011 cross country season, Reardon began moving to the forefront of the team. He had four top-10 finishes individually and paced the team three times. He also played a major role in the Hilltoppers’ upset of the juggernaut that is the Albuquerque Academy Chargers at the state meet, finishing fourth overall with a time of 16 minutes, 57 seconds on a tough course encircling Rio Rancho High School.

With his strong junior year, he looked to take over a leadership role with the Hilltoppers that they would need filled with the departure of the team’s lone senior, Alexander Romero.

But it was the spring 2012 track season where Reardon would break out.

After turning in some of the top distance times in Class 4A during the spring, Reardon had a monster showing at the state championship meet.

He stunned Del Norte’s Jackson Thomas in the 1,600 meter finals, winning in impressive fashion by nearly four seconds, upsetting Thomas’ bid to win all three distance events — a feat last accomplished by Los Alamos’ Gareth Gilna in 2009 — and was just nipped at the tape by Thomas in the 3,200 meters.

Reardon’s greatest feat of the meet, however, might have come in the 1,600 meter relay. Despite a long, grueling day mixed with both intense heat and a long rain delay, Reardon led the relay team to a stunning victory in an event the Hilltoppers weren’t even in the conversation of.

His spring success, which has spilled over to the fall, didn’t come by accident. Reardon is among the hardest-training runners in the state and has logged long hours on the terrain to get to put himself in the position to contend for an individual title.

“It’s been a four-year process,” said Reardon. “And now, all the time I’ve put in, it’s starting to add up. I’m hoping it can continue…. Physically, I feel like I’m coming around to be the best I ever have. I’m running really strong.”

But it’s been a long road to toe, figuratively and literally.

It’s about this time of the year the Hilltoppers will start cutting back on their road work to have their runners in top condition for district and state — Los Alamos’ teams are once again the heavy favorites in 2-4A and the boys are expected to dominate the state meet while the girls may have to hold off a couple of strong challengers — regenerating from the wear-and-tear of the long-distance season, which, for some like Reardon, never ends.

Los Alamos’ running program under Hall of Fame coaches Rob and Kathy Hipwood has succeeded, at least in part, because it takes the focus off individual runners for the good of the team as a whole.

It’s a philosophy that has been bought into by virtually every runner that’s gone through the Hilltopper system.

Reardon is no exception. He, like the rest of the boys cross country squad, would much rather see the team have success than attain any glory for himself this postseason.

“We’re going to be strong,” Reardon said. “We don’t take anything for granted. Academy is a great team and they have great coaches, so we’re going to have to be tough.”