• 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.

  • Volleyball sweeps Taos on Senior Night

    Despite a few shaky moments in the first two sets, the Los Alamos High School volleyball was able to win on its Senior Night 3-0 over Taos, continuing its late-season surge. 

    Since Sept. 15, the Hilltoppers have been one of the most dominant teams in the state, going 8-1, with five of the wins requiring the minimum three sets. Unlike some of the other matches, though, Tuesday night’s win over the Tigers proved to be difficult and required some outstanding play from LAHS’ top players. 

    Led by star player Faith Powell, Taos came out strong in the first set and did not allow the Hilltoppers to gain any sort of an edge. LAHS appeared to be out of sync for much of the first set, and relied on errors by the Tigers to pick up quite a few points. Powell made an impact for the Tigers at the service line and on the front line, as she proved to be hard to defend. 

    Though the Hilltoppers struggled throughout much of the set, Natalie Gallegos, Sophia Salazar and Elodie Thelliez stepped up when it mattered most and closed out the first set with a 25-23 win for LAHS to put the team up 1-0 in the match. 

  • Hilltopper offense stalls in road loss

    Down by 7 points late in the fourth quarter, the Los Alamos High School football team had a great opportunity to even the score against Capital High School and keep its playoff hopes alive. Instead, just like on every other second half drive, the Hilltoppers came up just a little bit short and the team lost in heartbreaking fashion. 

    Heading into Friday night’s game, LAHS needed a win to control its own fate in District 2-5A heading into the final week of the regular season. On paper, it appeared the Hilltoppers had the edge, as Capital had gone winless in seven games since an opening night victory against Pojoaque Valley High School Aug. 22. 

    A week earlier, the Jaguars lost to fellow district rival Del Norte 54-2, while the Hilltoppers defeated Santa Fe High 22-13. Capital relies heavily on the run game, and specifically sophomore Luke Padilla. This season, the Hilltoppers have been good at defending the run and felt that containing Padilla was possible. 

  • Cross country boys win home meet, girls take second

    This year, the cross country state championships in Class 4A will be battles between Los Alamos High School and Albuquerque Academy, as they have been so many times in recent years. Friday afternoon at the Los Alamos County Golf Course, the rivals provided a preview of what this year’s championship races will look like. 

    The Los Alamos Invitational, the Hilltoppers’ annual home meet, turned into a two-team battle for dominance in the boys and girls races. On the boys’ side, the Hilltoppers earned a tight victory with 39 points, compared to 41 for the Chargers. On the girls’ side, Academy came out on top with 31 points, compared to 48 for the Hilltoppers. 

    As has been the case for much of the season, Duncan Fuehne, Rafael Sanchez and Steven Strevell set the bar high for LAHS with outstanding races. 

    Much like the Northern New Mexico Challenge two weeks earlier in Santa Fe, the three Hilltoppers came to the finish line together in second, third and fourth places. This time, Fuehne was the team’s top finisher in second place with a time of 16:29.61. Right behind him was Sanchez, who came in third with a time of 16:30.04. Strevell took fourth place with a time of 16:30.52.