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  • Atomic City Update: LAHS winter sports have a tough act to follow

    Just as one sports season comes to a close, another is ready to take over and kick into high gear. The fall sports season at Los Alamos High School proved to be extremely successful, as five of the school’s six teams competed for state championships, and one team, boys’ cross country, took home the blue trophy for the championship. 

    It really is amazing to me to see how successful the athletes at LAHS are, and it makes me even more excited to watch the basketball, wrestling, swimming and hockey teams step into the spotlight. 

    I don’t know if all of those teams will be as successful as the fall sports, where the Hilltoppers normally dominate. 

    But I think the teams are capable of exciting moments and could take this community on an exciting ride into early March. 

    There are plenty of things to be excited about as the winter sports get underway. The top thing that I am looking forward to seeing is how the girls’ basketball team develops under new head coach Lanse Carter. 

    Last year, it was obvious that many of the girls on the team were talented, and showed flashes of brilliance. 

  • Steinkamp earns player of the year honors

    Following an outstanding senior season, Arthur Steinkamp was named New Mexico’s Player of the Year in Class 4A, and was also named a first-team all-state performer. In total four Hilltopper boys and three Hilltopper girls made the first-team all-state list, while boys’ head coach Ron Blue was named the Coach of the Year. 

    Steinkamp finished the season with the most goals in the state of any boy, regardless of class. 

    He scored 43 goals and dished out 12 assists, accounting for 96 total points. 

    He scored more than 90 goals in his Hilltopper career, and increased his goal output every year. 

    The other boys named to the first-team all-state list were sophomore forward Aiden Semelsberger, senior midfielder Jared Carnes and senior defender Jesse Prime. 

    Semelsberger excelled in his first year with the Hilltoppers, while Carnes and Prime were excellent on the field, and also did well in leadership roles, as they acted as captains along with Steinkamp. 

    Junior goalkeeper Jacob Majors and junior forward Dakota Duran made it onto the second-team all-state list after outstanding seasons. Both will return to the Hilltoppers in prominent roles next year. 

  • Cross country teams win district titles

    With dominant performances, the Los Alamos High School boys and girls cross country teams won district championships Friday, and 13 runners were named all-district performers. 

    The Hilltoppers competed against runners from Española Valley, Moriarty, Pojoaque Valley and Taos at Pojoaque Valley High School on a course that proved to be among the most challenging courses of the season. 

    The course was full of steep hills, rough terrain and harsh curves. But nothing was going to slow down the Hilltoppers. 

    The boys ran first, and Duncan Fuehne, Rafael Sanchez and Steven Strevell quickly jumped toward the front of the pack. It stayed that way throughout most of the race, the LAHS’ second pack of boys not far behind. 

    Ultimately, Fuehne earned first place and was named the individual district champion with a time of 17:08, as he separated himself from the rest of the pack. 

    Sanchez and Strevell were not far behind, finishing in third and fourth places, respectively. Sanchez, a sophomore, finished in third with a time of 17:18, and Strevell, a junior, finished in fourth place with a time of 17:25. 

  • Boys’ soccer advances to state quarterfinals

    Throughout this season, the Los Alamos High School boys’ soccer team has steadily improved, and is now three wins away from a state championship. Saturday morning at Sullivan Field, the Hilltoppers took the first step toward the ultimate goal, recording an 8-0 victory over Goddard in the first round of the state championship. 

    After going 13-6-1 in the regular season, and 5-0-1 in District 2-4A play, LAHS entered the state tournament as the No. 5 seed and hosted No. 12 seed Goddard for the right to advance to Wednesday’s quarterfinals. 

    Heading into the contest, LAHS head coach Ron Blue was confident, because he believes the team is better now that any point throughout the season. 

    “I think we are playing really, really well,” Blue said. “Our energy has been really, really high, we have learned a lot and our young players have stepped up. With the way we are playing, I am really happy, and obviously it helps when your top player is in his top form, as Arthur (Steinkamp) is right now.”

  • LAHS golf teams win final fall tourney

    As the fall season comes to a close, the Los Alamos High School golf teams are set up well for the spring season, with both teams already qualified for May’s state championship tournament. 

    Last week at the Bosque Fall Golf Invitational, the final tournament of the fall season, both the Hilltopper boys and girls walked away victorious, as the boys won by seven strokes and the girls won by 28 strokes. 

    For the girls, it was by far the best tournament of the fall. Four of the five girls competing finished with scores under 90 for the first time this season and the team cruised to a tournament victory. 

    Though Albuquerque Academy’s Grace Jorgensen was the top overall scorer in the tournament, the four Hilltopper scorers were not far behind. 

    Leah Mountain came in second overall at the tournament with a score of 82, continuing her outstanding season. Jessica Osden was right behind her with a score of 84. 

    For Mountain and Osden, the scores earned both their sixth individual legs for the state tournament in six tries. Only three legs are required by the end of the season to compete in the season’s final tournament. 

  • Atomic City Update: Turnaround of LAHS volleyball has been incredible

    On Sept. 15, the Los Alamos High School volleyball team had a 3-7 record and appeared to be headed toward non-relevance. Then, something amazing happened. From that point forward, the Hilltoppers went 9-1 and won the regular season district championship. 

    It’s the kind of turnaround you usually only hear about in the movies and in fictional books. Seemingly overnight, the Hilltoppers turned their season around. Sophia Salazar and Natalie Gallegos turned into the types of players everyone has seen flashes of since they started playing volleyball at the high school. 

    Kyla Sandoval has stepped up at the libero position, and has become one of the top defensive players in the entire state. She played a key part in big Hilltopper victories against Española Valley and Pojoaque Valley, as did Elodie Thelliez, Gracie Swenson, Ariel Edkin, Janessa Gonzales and Gabriella Duran. 

    To put the turnaround in even more context, remember that the Hilltoppers went just 7-16 last year, and were considered one of the weakest teams in the whole state. In last year’s regular season, the team won only five games. Only one of those came against district competition, and only one of those happened at Griffith Gymnasium. 

  • Girls’ soccer loses heartbreaker to Academy in state semifinals

    Facing one of the toughest teams in the entire state, the Los Alamos High School girls’ soccer team came up just a few seconds short of playing for the state championship. Thursday afternoon in Bernalillo, the Hilltoppers lost 2-1 in double overtime against the Albuquerque Academy Chargers. 

    LAHS entered the state championship tournament as the No. 4 seed, while the Chargers entered as the No. 1 seed. 

    Throughout the regular season, the Chargers went 18-2, and outscored opponents 136-7. Eliza Mariner was a dominant player for the Chargers as she scored 59 goals, easily the top mark in New Mexico. 

    Earlier this season, at the Albuquerque Academy Tournament, the Chargers dominated the Hilltoppers 5-0. Thursday’s matchup was an entirely different story. 

    The first half was a defensive struggle, with neither team able to mount much of an attack through the first 30 minutes. The defensive back lines played outstanding, and prevented the forwards from getting much momentum headed toward the goal. 

  • Volleyball wins district championship with win over Pojoaque

    With a dramatic, five-set, win over the Pojoaque Valley Elkettes Thursday night, the Los Alamos High School volleyball team claimed the District 2-4A regular season championship. The championship assures the team of the No. 1 seed in next week’s district tournament and also guaranteed the Hilltoppers a spot in the state championship tournament. 

    It is an achievement that cannot be understated. Last season, LAHS went 7-16 overall and won only one district contest. As late in this season as Sept. 15, the Hilltoppers were 3-7. Then, everything changed. 

    From that point forward, LAHS went 9-1 overall and 7-1 in District 2-4A, one of the toughest districts in the state. The only blemish on the team’s record was a loss in mid-October to Pojoaque Valley. On Thursday, the Hilltoppers more than made up for it. 

    The fight for the regular season district championship came down to one final match. Both teams were 6-1 in district play. Pojoaque’s lone district loss to that point came against Española Valley, just two days after defeating the Hilltoppers in straight sets in Los Alamos. 

  • Atomic City Update: LAHS football continues to be stuck in cycle of mediocrity

    Legendary National Hockey League coach Scotty Bowman once said, “I found out that if you are going to win games, you had better be ready to adapt.” I read that quote while scrolling through my Facebook news feed this week, and it reminded me of the Los Alamos High School football team. But it was for all the wrong reasons. 

    “Adaptable” and “willing to change” have never been ways to describe the team. The coaches have a system they believe in and, right or wrong, they stick with it. Last week was an example of when the system didn’t work, and it continues a trend in the wrong direction. 

    In the 21-14 loss last week on the road against Capital High School, LAHS’ stubborn commitment to the run game cost the team in a big way. Three times in the fourth quarter, the Hilltoppers had the ball with a chance to tie the game or take the lead. All three of the drives ended deep in Capital territory. 

  • LAHS soccer teams prepare for state tournaments

    As has become a yearly occurrence at Los Alamos High School, both soccer teams have made the state soccer tournament. The Hilltopper girls earned the No. 4 seed and the boys earned the No. 5 seed, as both teams were rewarded for highly successful seasons. 

    By earning the No. 4 seed, the LAHS girls have a bye to the quarterfinals, which will be played Nov. 7 at the Bernalillo Soccer Complex. The Hilltoppers went 14-5 in the regular season, including impressive wins against St. Michael’s, Farmington and Aztec. 

    In district play, the Hilltoppers dominated, going 6-0 and outscoring opponents 48-1. 

    Oct. 28’s 5-0 home win against Aztec proved to be key for the Hilltoppers, as LAHS and Aztec entered the game ranked No. 4 and No. 5 in the state, respectively. 

    With the win, LAHS wrapped up the No. 4 seed, while Aztec will have to play a first round home game this weekend against Santa Teresa. 

    The winner of that game will face off against LAHS in the quarterfinals. 

    Also receiving a bye to the quarterfinals are No. 1 seed Albuquerque Academy, No. 2 seed St. Pius and No. 3 seed Hope Christian.

    Academy and Pius have both defeated the Hilltoppers this season.