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  • Young basketball players gain experience at Jr. Topper camp

    By Isaac Fason

    The Jr. Topper Basketball Summer Camp returned to Los Alamos this week and continues June 12 through June 14. The camp is sponsored by the Hilltopper Basketball Academy and the Alex Kirk foundation.

    The camp is offered to three different age groups; the Mini Toppers (Kindergarten through third grade), the Mid Toppers (fourth grade through sixth grade), and the Advanced Toppers (seventh grade and eighth grade).

    Registration for the camp costs $75 per camper and includes an Alex Kirk Foundation basketball, water bottle and t-shirt.

    Head coach of the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team Mike Kluk has been running the Jr. Topper summer camps for the past several years with the assistance of current Hilltoppers and returning alumni. 

    One alumni helping run the camp this year is former Hilltopper Isaiah Espinosa.

    ”A lot of the kids there don’t go to get better, but they go to have fun,” Espinosa said. On his reason for helping with the camp, Espinosa said, “I found basketball was a good release growing up. I feel like if I can find a way to help kids then I am doing my job, and it’s great to put a smile on a kids face.”

  • Atomic City Update: Title IX violations a bad start to an important summer for UNM

    More than any year before, this summer will determine the future of University of New Mexico athletics, for better or worse. Due to a mountain of debt accumulated under the previous school and athletic administrations, drastic measures will be taken, including the elimination of one or more sports, to be announced July 1 or earlier. 

    The first step in that process was a Title IX assessment of the school’s athletic department, released last week. The assessment showed a variety of serious problems that need to be addressed, something that won’t be easy at all with the financial troubles facing the school.

    Among the top problems are the disparity between athletic opportunities for men and women and the difference in locker rooms and training facilities between men and women’s sports. 

    To me, the most disturbing thing to come out of the Title IX assessment was the description of how the softball locker room differs from the baseball locker room, as well as the conditions that the volleyball teams are forced to endure. 

  • Camps available all summer long for young athletes

    Coaches and student athletes from Los Alamos High School are hosting a variety of sports camps over the summer, so be sure to register for a spot. Below is information about a few of the camps available. For more information about registration, dates, times, etc., please visit lahstoppers.com and select the desired sport.

    Volleyball

    Los Alamos High School volleyball coaches and players are offering volleyball camps for elementary and middle school aged students who are interested in learning about the fundamentals of volleyball in a fun and positive environment. Here, students will be able to develop and improve serving, passing, hitting, setting and defensive skills.

    The elementary camp is open to all children entering grades 1st-5th in fall 2018, and the middle school camp is open to students entering 6th-8th grade. The camps will be in held in Griffith Gym from Monday-Thursday, June 18-21, and June 25-28. 

    Camps are facilitated by the experienced high school coaches and players, and are individually tailored to the experience level of each player. Campers are required to have parental authorization to participate in camp activities and can sign up the day of the event.

  • Aquatomics find success at Cactus Classic

    The strong start to the long course season continued for the Los Alamos Aquatomics at the Cactus Classic in Scottsdale, Arizona, as many swimmers came home with personal victories and personalbest times. 

    This was the first long trip of the season for the Aquatomics, and the first with the team for head coach Mark Scott, who said, “we travel well, had a lot of fun and swam fast.”

    Though the team posted strong performances consistently, it had to battle extremely hot temperatures all weekend as the temperature on the deck reached a sweltering 112 degrees on Sunday afternoon. 

    Despite the heat, Scott said the swimmers “adapted well and fast.”

    One of the Aquatomics’ most impressive swimmers at the meet was Allison Amrani, who posted five top-10 finishes. In the 10-and-under 400-freestyle, she finished in third place with a time of 6:04.19, a 41-second improvement over her previous personal best. That time was good enough to earn her another Western Zone qualifying time, a meet she will compete in at the end of the season. 

    Orion Henderson had a great meet, finishing in the top-10 in all of his events, including a second-place finish in the 200-backstroke. 

  • Former LAHS baseball star named Freshman All-American at UNM

    Connor Mang of Los Alamos was certainly the brightest of bright spots among UNM baseball’s freshman class. This week, he was officially recognized as such, as Collegiate Baseball named Mang to its Freshman All-America team.

    He is UNM’s 10th Freshman All-American since the 2008 season, and the fifth since 2015.  He is the first UNM Collegiate Baseball All-American as a first baseman since D.J. Peterson in 2011.

    Overall, Mang hit .326 over 48 games with 10 doubles, three triples, two homers and 27 RBI.  His batting average was second on the team, and he was tied for third in doubles and RBI.  He had 15 multi-hit games including eight three-hit games and he ended the season with an 11-game on-base streak.

    Mang opened the season as UNM’s third baseman before moving to second.  He moved to first base during the fifth weekend of the season and made himself a home there, solidifying UNM’s defense and giving the Lobos some corner pop with his bat.  Despite having not previously played the position, he committed just one error all season at first.

  • Atomic Tumblers compete at Xcel Region 3 Championships

    The Los Alamos Atomic Tumblers traveled to Galveston, Texas during the weekend of May 18 to compete in the Xcel Region 3 USA Gymnastics championships. All seven states (New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma) were represented.

    There were 1,076 gymnasts competing in 14 sessions throughout the weekend.  There were 16 judges representing all seven states as well.

    In the Diamond Division competition, there were 77 competitors, and only one session.  Hannah Gram finished seventh in the seniors’ division with 36.725. Gram took sixth place on vault (9.25), bars (9.075), and floor (9.475).  

    She earned the last medal with a tenth place finish on beam (9.475). Brianna Fryer placed ninth in the junior’s division on her half twist on, full twist off vault with 9.25.  Chantel Bibeault also placed ninth on vault in the younger division with a half on, full off, scoring 9.225. Kayli Lincoln qualified but was unable to attend.

  • New Aquatomics coach brings passion, excitement to LA

    Mark Scott, the new head coach of the Los Alamos club swim team known as the Aquatomics, has been in or around pools since he could walk. 

    Scott’s father was a swim coach, so he was at the pool quite often. Scott taught himself how to swim at 3 years old, was on his dad’s team at 4 years old, and swam competitively for 17 years. 

    After his many years of competitive swimming, Scott did not miss being in the water due to the amount of injuries he had been forced to deal with. However, Scott quickly realized “it felt really good to be on deck,” and he began coaching.

    Scott has been coaching since 1975, including stints at NCAA Division II school University of Puget Sound and NCAA Division I school University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

    Scott’s coaching path has not always been straightforward, though. Twice Scott has dealt with 5-year-stints of feeling burnt out due to stress and high levels of competition.

    Scott says that stress and pressure is “dependent on what the coach wants out of the team, and what the swimmers want out of the team.”

  • Atomic City Update: Lanse Carter is the perfect hire for LAHS girls basketball

    Longtime college basketball coach Bobby Knight once said, “To be as good as it can be, a team has to buy into what you as the coach are doing. They have to feel you’re a part of them and they’re a part of you.”

    I think this quote is particularly relevant right now to Los Alamos High School, and new girls’ head basketball coach Lanse Carter, who is looking to change the culture of the program and once again turn the Hilltoppers into state championship contenders. 

    Though he is new to the Los Alamos area, he is anything but a stranger to basketball in northern New Mexico. He has had stints at Capital, Pojoaque, Santa Fe Indian School and Santa Fe High School and has a history of turning programs around in a hurry. 

    In 2008 and 2009, he won state championships at Pojoaque, and also took Santa Fe High to the state tournament in his only year there in 2016, after taking the job just two days before the season began. 

    Sure, on paper his credentials are impressive enough. But after watching a little bit of his practice last week and watching him interact with the girls, I am even more convinced that he is the right man for this program. 

  • Topper Soccer School kicks off at Urban Park next week

    Next week, kids ages 3-9 will have the opportunity to play soccer like the Hilltoppers, as Topper School 2018 gets underway at Urban Park in Los Alamos. 

    The mission of Topper Soccer School is to provide an extraordinary camp environment through innovative instruction and positive reinforcement, and to expose little kids to big soccer. Members of the boys’ high school soccer program provide instruction.

    The first session of the camp runs June 11-15. Though the registration date has passed, late registrations will be accepted. Ages 3-5 will play from 4-5 p.m., and ages 6-9 will play from 5-6 p.m. 

    The “Tiny Touches” session will be for the 3-5-year-olds, and is designed for young children who like to kick soccer balls.  Proper technique will be taught with an emphasis on basic skills including dribbling, shooting and passing in an encouraging and enthusiastic environment.  Skills will be demonstrated and lots of fun and games will be included in the sessions.  To make the overall environment more comfortable and conducive to learning for the young players, parents (mom, dad, older sibling, aunt, uncle, etc.) are welcome to participate in these training sessions as well. 

  • LAHS football releases 2018 schedule

    The Los Alamos High School varsity football team will play 10 games in the 2018 season, six of which are against teams that they faced in the 2017 season. Among these are Española Valley, Pojoaque, Gallup, Santa Fe, Capital and Del Norte. The new teams that the Hilltoppers will go against include Taos, Bloomfield, Hope Christian and Valencia.

    The Hilltoppers finished with a 6-4 record in the 2017 season. Twelve of the team’s 25 players were seniors who will not be returning, including running back Jack Stewart and quarterback Kayden Rivera. 

    The receiving corps and defensive secondary will need to be addressed with the losses of seniors such as Wyatt Saeger, Reyes Mendez and Leander Murphy.

    The offensive and defensive lines will retain most of its core of juniors, only losing seniors Devin Cantua and Arturo Rodriguez. 

    Fortunately for the Hilltoppers, in a year that may consist of a lot of regrouping and rebuilding, their schedule contains just two teams that had a winning record in the 2017 season: Taos, 8-4, and district rival Capital, 6-5.