Summer of sports in LA

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By Jose Corral

Calendars have turned to August, which means the end of summer is nearing and so are summer sports.
The last few months were filled with exuberant tournaments, games and events that brought out the best in numerous athletes affiliated with Los Alamos.
From the crest of Pajarito Mountain to Tracktown USA in Eugene, Oregon, the talent of Los Alamos athletes was put on display and it resulted in formidable success.
The Summer of 2016 began with the annual Summerfest, which is used to celebrate the beginning of summer season at the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area.
Like in years past, the mountain bike event,  Pajarito Punishement, was one of the top obligations at Summerfest.
However, this year was different as competitors used an application to keep track of their time and to ultimately decided the winner. A father and two siblings stole the show at this summer’s race, as Neal Pederson finished in first, while his son Benjamin Pederson finished third and daughter Michelle Pederson placed fifth. Neal logged in a winning-time of 2 minutes and 30 seconds at the rigid trails of Pajarito Mountain.
Former Los Alamos High School baseball star Jared Mang kept the summer going strong for Los Alamos. The former back-to-back New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year had his summer break shorten as he and the rest of the University of New Mexico baseball team earned a spot in the NCAA Regionals after winning the Mountain West in May.
Mang helped the Lobos garner a postseason victory but they were eventually eliminated in June. Mang started in 48 games, while tallying a .291 batting average, 51 hits and 30 RBI in his first season at UNM.
Another former Hilltopper standout had a busy early summer. Chase Ealey, former LAHS track and field star, achieved one of the greatest feats of any Los Alamos athlete.
In June, Ealey finished second in the shot put at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. She finished her senior season at Oklahoma State University as the most paramount women’s track and field athlete in OSU history. Ealey’s collegiate performance allowed her to be invited to the U.S. Olympic Trials where she had shot to compete in the Rio Olympic Games.
At the trials in July, she advanced to the final round and finished in seventh place and within feet of securing a spot in the U.S. Olympic Team.
Staying on the note of LAHS alumni, one of the most successful former Hilltoppers also had an eventful summer. Alex Kirk, who was a basketball star at LAHS and UNM, came back to the United States after a successful professional basketball stint in Italy. Kirk returned to northern New Mexico in June to conduct basketball camps in Las Vegas, Española and in his hometown of Los Alamos.
Following the camps, Kirk participated in the first ever Battle of the Rio Grande, as he played at the Pit in Albuquerque once again with former teammates and other Lobo alumni against New Mexico State alumni. Kirk helped the UNM alumni to a 102-97 victory after posting 14 points and tallying a game-high eight blocks. In July, he participated in the NBA Summer League and in free agent camps with the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs, in search for an NBA contract.
The Los Alamos Municipal Golf Course went in a new direction this summer. Sam Logan, a Professional Golf Association member who has decades of experience at the international, was hired as the golf course manager in Los Alamos.
With summer being the busiest time for the golf course, Logan hit the ground running early as he helped the course host the Atomic City Invitational, city championships and the Northern New Mexico Senior Men’s Golf Association tournament. Logan expects to host 75 tournaments during the year.
Los Alamos’ lone roller derby league, the Los Alamos Derby Dames has also been in action this summer. The league’s premier team, the M’atom Bombs, participated at the 10th Mountain Roller Dolls at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink and traveled to Boulder, Colorado to face the BCB Bombshells in May.
The M’atom Bombs fell to the DCD Juggernaughties 282-130 in June and lost 320-126 to Flagstaff-based High Altitude Roller Derby in July.
LAHS girls basketball standout Ashlynn Trujillo in her final high basketball game in June. Trujillo was part of the North All-Stars in the states North/South High School All-Star Game.
LAHS baseball star and UNM commit Connor Mang also made an all-star appearnce in June, as his two-RBI double helped the northern squad earn a 2-1 victory in Las Cruces.
Brianna Montaño of the LAHS volleyball team, played in the North/South All-Star Game in July.
The top little leauge junior softball players in the region visited Los Alamos in July for the southwestern regional. Los Alamos All-Stars battled but went 0-4 during the regional, as Texas East claimed the southwest title and earned a spot in the Little League World Series.
One of Los Alamos’ premier sporting events also took place in July. The Los Alamos Triathlon saw a series of fast times, as Silvio was the top male finisher and Liz Miller finished as the top female.