• Volleyball to face tough test at Tournament of Champions

     The Los Alamos High School volleyball team will take part in one of the top tournaments in Santa Fe this week, the Tournament of Champions. 

    This tournament brings together 16 programs from around the state. The schools are broken up into four pools of four teams, and play in a round robin format, where all the teams in each pool play each other. 

    The top two teams in each pool then move into the championship bracket, while the bottom teams move into the consolation bracket. 

    The Hilltoppers will be part of Pool A at this year’s tournament, along with Santa Fe High, Santa Fe Indian School and Taos. 

    LAHS will take on Taos at 8:45 a.m. Friday. Then, at 10:15 a.m., they will face Santa Fe Indian School before finishing pool play at 11:45 a.m. against Santa Fe High. All of the games will take place at Santa Fe High School. 

    The Hilltoppers have already faced Santa Fe High this season, falling 3-1 on the road to the Demonettes on Aug. 30. Every set between the schools was close, but the Hilltoppers had trouble closing out sets, leading to their defeat. 

  • Hailey leads LAHS past St. Michael’s

    In its first home game in nearly three weeks, the Los Alamos High School girls’ soccer team earned an impressive 5-1 victory over St. Michael’s High School Tuesday. 

    LAHS entered the game looking for a rebound. It was the Hilltoppers’ first game action since a 1-1 road trip to Farmington, where they defeated Piedra Vista High School and lost in heartbreaking fashion 3-2 against Farmington High School. 

    The team’s return home featured another tough matchup, against previously unbeaten St. Michael’s, which entered Tuesday with a 5-0-1 record. 

    Early on, it appeared the teams were evenly matched, as the Hilltoppers dominated the time of possession, but were rushing passes and were unable to get into the scoring areas. 

    Alix Hailey, LAHS’ leading scorer over the past two seasons, got her team on the board in the 17th minute. She was set up in the middle of the penalty area, 10 yards from goal. Alissia Haagenstad threaded a pass into her, and she fired a hard shot, right into the back of the net to put LAHS up 1-0. 

  • Hilltoppers beat Farmington in overtime thriller

    For the second game in a row, senior forward Alix Hailey put on a show for the Los Alamos High School girls’ soccer team. Thursday, in the first round of the Albuquerque Academy Tournament, Hailey scored two goals against Farmington, including the game-winning goal in overtime, as the Hilltoppers took down the Scorpions 4-3. 

    “She was not going to be denied,” Hilltopper head coach Ann Cernicek said after the game. 

    Earlier this week, Hailey scored three goals in a win over St. Michael’s, with two of those goals coming in a 38-second stretch in the second half. 

    For the Hilltoppers, Thursday’s game against Farmington meant more than a normal first-round tournament game would. On Sept. 8, Farmington handed LAHS its first loss of the season in heartbreaking fashion. With the game tied 2-2 late in the second half, Farmington scored off a corner kick to earn the victory. 

    The intensity was high throughout Thursday’s match, as both sides were determined to reach the tournament semifinals. 

    Both teams scored twice in the first half, as the defenses struggled to slow down the forwards making runs down the field. 

  • Atomic City Update: LAHS football displays ‘next man up’ mentality

    One of the best traits a football team can have, at any level, is a “next man up” mentality. It is a game that is often filled with injuries, and any good team has more than one person that can step up at any one position. 

    This applies to professional football as much as it does college and high school teams. Every week, key players go down for every team, and the way a team responds to that adversity often determines how the season will go. 

    Some teams thrive with replacements. Famously, Tom Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe on the new England Patriots years ago and led them to a Super Bowl championship. The same is true for Kurt Warner, who replaced Trent Green for the 1999 St. Louis Rams right before the season began and won the championship. 

    Other teams falter when a key player goes down, often derailing what otherwise could have been a highly successful season. 

    The difference between success and failure usually comes down to mental toughness, and how much the players believe in each other. 

  • Hilltopper golfers perform well at home invitational

    In the first tournament of the new school year, the Los Alamos High School boys’ golf team picked up right where they left off. The last time the team was on the course in competition, they walked away with a state championship. By winning the Los Alamos Invitational Monday with ease, the Hilltoppers showed they are capable of doing it again this year. 

    As a team, the Hilltoppers had a score of 305, which was 12 strokes ahead of second place Albuquerque Academy. The Hilltoppers had two of the top scorers of the day, Connor Cook, who was the second place individual with a score of 72, and Jacob Benelli, who tied for fourth place with a score of 73. 

    Across the board, the varsity team for the Hilltoppers had solid rounds, especially for the first tournament of the season. Davis Johnson, who played as the No. 1 golfer for the Hilltoppers, had a score of 78. Landon Burke had a score of 82, and freshman Reuben Goettee had a score of 97 in his first high school tournament. 

    The girls also had a strong start to the season. After being unable to field a full team for the state tournament last spring, the Hilltoppers had some new faces in the lineup, and all of them showed great potential. 

  • LAHS earns big win over Bloomfield

    On paper, Friday night’s game between the Los Alamos High School football team and Bloomfield High School appeared to be a mismatch. Bloomfield entered the game with one of the state’s best passing offenses, while the Hilltoppers have struggled to defend against the pass. The linemen for Bloomfield looked like they would be too large for LAHS’ linemen to open up any holes for the running backs. Questions about the health of many of the Hilltoppers’ skill-position players left onlookers wondering who would be carrying the ball. 

    And yet, on any given Friday night, special things can happen. That was the case in this game, as the Hilltoppers won 28-20, providing the program with one of its most impressive wins in years. 

    “Most of all, I am just proud to see those guys fight,” Los Alamos head coach Garett Williams said. “Every step of the way, they came together when they needed to.”

    Williams was impressed with the effort his team showed, and it was obvious. LAHS dominated time of possession in the game, with scoring drives of 15, 16 and 21 plays that took up nearly all of the second half. 

  • Girls’ soccer gets back on track with win over Bosque

    The Los Alamos High School girls’ soccer team picked up one of its biggest wins of the season Tuesday at Sullivan Field, defeating Bosque High School 2-1.

    Bosque entered the game ranked as the No. 1 team in Class 3A, and was full of confidence after allowing only one goal in its previous three games. 

    The Hilltoppers, meanwhile, needed a positive performance. In the final two games of the Albuquerque Academy Tournament, the team struggled to get opportunities toward the goal, losing 5-0 against Albuquerque Academy and 5-3 against Hope Christian. The team was also attempting to come back from losing its starting goalkeeper Anna Lemke, who left the game Sept. 13 against Farmington with a knee injury. 

    In her absence, sophomore Annika Fox has stepped into a much bigger role, while junior Tanna Hollander has made the move up to varsity as the second goalkeeper. 

    Hollander played the first half of Tuesday’s game, and appeared comfortable against one of the most potent offenses in the state. 

    The Hilltoppers faced an early deficit, though, as Bosque’s Aviva Elliot ball-handled down the far side of the field in the 7th minute, easily navigating past the LAHS fullbacks. 

  • Offensive attack leads LAHS past Bobcats

     Dakota Duran and Nilesh Mukundan scored two goals each Tuesday as the Los Alamos High School boys’ soccer team rolled past Bosque High School 5-2. 

    The Hilltoppers entered Tuesday’s game looking for a positive spark. The offense struggled throughout the last two games of the Albuquerque Academy Tournament, with a 3-1 loss against Albuquerque Academy and a 2-1 overtime loss against Hope Christian. 

    Captains Jared Carnes and Arthur Steinkamp were unavailable against Bosque with injuries, which forced other players to step up and play bigger roles.

    The Hilltoppers had a lot of energy in the early going, as sophomore Aiden Semelsberger consistently pushed the ball toward the goal and created opportunities. 

    One of those opportunities paid off in the 7th minute, as Duran made a pass near the goal over to Mukundan, who tapped it into the net to give LAHS a 1-0 lead. 

  • Balanced attack leads LAHS past Cleveland

    After competing in tournaments two weeks in a row, the Los Alamos High School volleyball team returned to Griffith Gymnasium Wednesday night and picked up a convincing 3-1 win over Cleveland High School. 

    It has been a rocky start to the season for the Hilltoppers, as they entered the game with a 3-7 record. At the Tournament of Champions in Santa Fe, the team advanced to the quarterfinals, but was defeated in straight sets by Farmington, Piedra Vista and Capital. 

    Cleveland has struggled throughout the season, picking up only one win so far after advancing to the second round of the state tournament last year. 

    Early on in the match, it appeared the Hilltoppers would struggle. Many unforced errors in the first set put LAHS behind and they fought the entire set to come back. 

    The Hilltoppers rallied to tie the score late in the set, but Cleveland fought back and took the first set 25-22. 

    After that, the Hilltoppers began playing much better. LAHS jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the second set thanks to a pair of Sophia Salazar ace serves, and never looked back. 

  • Atomic City Update: Consistency is hardest thing to accomplish in sports

    One month into the high school sports season, the thing that sticks out the most to me is how difficult it is to maintain a successful program year in and year out in any sport. This idea has really hit me in volleyball this year, where two historically great programs, St. Pius and Cleveland, have come to Griffith Gymnasium looking like shells of their former selves. 

    Though St. Pius defeated the Hilltoppers, it took far more effort than it has in recent years, and the sense of confidence seemed to disappear. For Cleveland, the change has been even more dramatic. After being in the state playoffs last year, the team has only won one game in over a month this year. 

    As fans of teams, we often don’t appreciate the good times nearly enough, and forget that the bad times are right around the corner. It happens to every team. There will always be high moments, and there will always be low moments. Maintaining excellence is so difficult. 

    That’s why I want the Los Alamos community to appreciate what the cross country and soccer programs at Los Alamos High School have built, and never take it for granted.