Hilltopper Boys XC Are 2019 State Champions!

The State Champion Hilltopper Boys Cross Country team defeats Albuquerque Academy 43-40. Photo by Blake Wood
Junior Rafael Sanchez mixes it up with two Hope Christian runners at the 2 mile point in the 5k race. Photo by Blake Wood

Sophomore Wakei Hettinga strides down a steep hill at the halfway point, followed by sophomore teammate Keith Bridge. Photo by Blake Wood


The Hilltopper Boys Cross Country team achieved an upset win Saturday over rival Albuquerque Academy at the New Mexico 4A State Championship at Rio Rancho High School.

A mere two weeks ago, the ‘Topper Boys were beaten at their Home Meet by Academy by 21 points, but they really stepped it up when it counted the most, beating Academy by a mere three points to become State Champions, 43-40.

Top finisher for the Hilltoppers was junior Rafael Sanchez, in 3rd place with a time of 16:18.3 on the difficult 5k course.

He was followed by sophomore Wakei Hettinga in 5th and senior Steven Strevell in 7th.

Sophomores Keith Bridge and Ryan Aldaz also scored for the ‘Toppers in 9th and 16th places, respectively.

Senior Gage Ellis and freshman Wyatt Cionek rounded out the Hilltopper team.

Not only did the ‘Toppers win the 4A classification, they also achieved the fastest average time across all classifications.