Hilltoppers Dominate Northern Challenge

Sports Editor
Los Alamos Daily Post

After a strong showing against out-of-state competition Oct. 6 at the Pat Amato Classic meet in Northglenn, Colo., the Los Alamos High School boys and girls cross country teams stayed local and dominated the Northern Challenge cross country meet Oct. 12 at the Municipal Recreation Complex in Santa Fe.

The Hilltoppers took first place in the boys race with 26 points, easily ahead of second-place Pojoaque Valley High Scchool. The Elks were a distant second with 88 points. Taos High School was third with 145 points. The top three teams are all from District 2-4A.

Los Alamos’ runners finished first second and third with less than a second separating the three Hilltoppers. Sophomore Rafael Sanchez took first place with a tie of 16 minutes, 44.31 seconds. He was barely ahead of junior Steven Strevell who took second with a time of16 minutes, 44.65 seconds. Senior Duncan Fuehne was hot on their heels in third with a time of 16 minutes, 44.91 seconds. Junior Hunter Swavely of the Hilltoppers cracked the top 10, coming in ninth with a time of 17 minutes, 52.96 seconds. Freshman Keith Bridge completed the scoring for Los Alamos, coming in 11th with a time of 17 minutes, 56.40 seconds.

Also running for Los Alamos’ varsity boys team was senior Elijah Velasquez, who came in 14th with a time of 18 minutes, 04.75 seconds. Right behind him was senior Wyatt Watson, 15th in 18 minutes, 11.90 seconds.

Pojoaque was paced by senior John Hall, who took fourth with a time of 16 minutes, 58.95 seconds. Sophomore Santiago Romero was ninth for the Elks with a time of 17 minutes, 51.50 seconds. Taos’ top runner was sophomore Sam Hastings, who came in seventh with a time of 17 minutes, 44.71 seconds.

Also finishing in the top 10 were Santa Fe High School senior Brock McKinney, who was sixth with a time of 17 minutes, 35.06 seconds. St. Michael’s High School junior Justin Sanchez was tenth with a time of 17 minutes, 55.55 seconds.

The Lady Hilltoppers were even more dominant in the girls race, taking first with a total of 19 points. Los Alamos runners took first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh place. Only Taos freshman Alyx Mastor managed to break up the Hilltoppers and prevent Los Alamos from scoring a perfect 15 points. Mastor took second place with a time of 20 minutes, 56.45 seconds.

A Los Alamos freshman, Norissa Valdez, took first place with a time of 19 minutes, 59.92 seconds. A trio of sophomores then followed Taos’ Mastor across the finish line for the Hilltoppers. Hannah Gartz took third place with a time of 21 minutes, 00.82 seconds. She was followed by Mabel Pyle, who finished fourth with a time of 21 minutes, 05.91 seconds. Tia Hartzol came in fifth for Los Alamos with a time of 21 minutes, 07.00 seconds.

Junior Abby Beus was next for the Hilltoppers, coming in sixth to complete the scoring with a time of 21 minutes, 10.90 seconds. Senior Marin Kelly came in seventh with a time of 21 minutes, 12.56 seconds. When freshman Kamaya Ronning crossed the finish line in 13th place with a time of 21 minutes, 59.25 seconds, the entire Los Alamos varsity team had finished the race.

In eighth place was Taos sophomore Ella Katz, who finished with a time of 21 minutes, 19.71 seconds.  Senior Makayla Quintana of Las Vegas Robertson High School took ninth place with a time of 21 minutes, 31.43 seconds. St. Michaels High School senior Janai Clayton came in tenth with a time of 21 minutes, 33.28 seconds.

Taos High School did not have enough runners to score as a team, nor did Robertson High School. That allowed a small school like Class 2A Academy for Technology and the Classics (ATC) to sneak in amongst the bigger Class 4A and Class 3A schools and snag a second-place trophy with 90 points. ATC was led by sophomore Maggie Rittmeyer, who finished 12th with a time of 21 minutes, 43.50 seconds.

St. Michaels took third place with score of 94 points in the team standings.

Los Alamos will finish the regular season hosting their home meet, the Los Alamos Invitational, Oct. 26 at the Los Alamos Golf Course. The meet will feature a showdown between the Hilltoppers and Albuquerque Academy. The top two teams in Class 4A in the state. So far this season Academy has gotten the better of Los Alamos, finishing ahead of the Hilltoppers in every meet where both schools have participated.