Track and field: LA teams hosting district title meet

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By Mike Cote

On the surface, it wouldn’t appear the Los Alamos Hilltopper track and field teams have a lot to worry about come this weekend.

Los Alamos’ boys and girls squads will host the District 2AAAA championship meet Friday and Saturday at Sullivan Field.

It’s the second straight meet the Hilltoppers have hosted, coming off their Los Alamos Invitational meet last week, in which both teams won big over all comers.

Among the also-rans last week were teams from Española Valley, Taos, Capital and Bernalillo, the teams that make up the rest of 2AAAA.

Combining their scores in the girls competition last week, the teams totaled out at 8.5 points. Los Alamos’ girls, on the other hand, amassed 201.5 points. The boys team results weren’t remarkably closer at Los Alamos 165, the rest of the district 50.

The Hilltoppers, however, know that the district team championship and a lot else is at stake this weekend.

“We’ve been out and had a decent couple of days,” Hilltopper girls head coach Paul Anderson said of his team’s workouts leading up to the district meet. “It’s been very businesslike all season. There’s a little tension for some kids because they’re trying to get in to the state meet.”

For the Hilltopper athletes, particularly those on the bubble to qualify for state, the 2AAAA meet provides their final chance of the season to get to the big dance, which is the following weekend. The top two individuals in each event, regardless of their mark, will move on to the Class AAAA title meet.

Getting to state is a big part of the teams’ excitement this weekend, but not all of it.

“The kids want to be district champs,” Anderson said. “That still holds some status.”

Both Los Alamos teams will be going into the district meet a little banged up, the boys more so than the girls.

Hilltopper boys head coach Larry Baca said two of his athletes, Benigno Sandoval and Raul Rodriguez will be out this weekend, both suffering hamstring injuries. Sandoval is the team’s top pole vaulter, while Rodriguez is one of the team’s best sprinters.

Other Hilltopper boys have been dealing with injuries as well this season, but Baca should have most of his other athletes available this weekend.

Baca will be looking for a 16th straight district title, that streak extending back to when the Hilltoppers first moved into Class AAA. It’s been more than a decade since the team was even seriously challenged for a district title.

Winning, however, isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of this meet.

“First and foremost, we want to stay healthy,” Baca said. “We’re not going to try to blow anybody away. I like winning the district championship, I don’t want to make it sound like I don’t, but next week’s more important.”

It’s entirely possible that both the boys and girls squads will be in the mix for a team AAAA championship at the state meet. Both teams have already qualified a large number of athletes for the championship meet and more than a few of those have posted state best marks in the class this season.

Los Alamos could put several more athletes in with this meet.

Among those who are knocking on the door for the Hilltopper boys are Dion Obermeyer in both the 300 meter hurdles and the triple jump, and Noah Sandoval in the 300 hurdles. Martin Romero and David Bjorklund both set personal records at the Los Alamos Invitational in the long jump, and the high jump competition will be wide open with Capital’s Devin and Jordan Bolich — two of only four AAAA competitors to have qualified this season — not scheduled to compete in that event.

Los Alamos’ girls have had several close calls this season, the closest of which was Madison Ahlers’ .02 second miss in the 400 two weeks ago.

Sarah Weeks and Jess Stokes will be looking to qualify in the hurdles, while Jessica Mietz and Victoria Honnell have been close to qualifying in the 1600. Molly Willms, who won last week’s girls discus event after scratching her first three attempts, could also be one to watch at the 2AAAA meet.

Additionally, none of the Hilltopper girls have yet qualified in the 800. Los Alamos’ boys have qualified at least one individual in each of the running events.