Freshman Norissa Valdez picks up another place in the sprint to the finish. She was the fastest ‘Topper girl of the day, placing 2nd in the varsity race with a time of 19:31. Photo by Blake Wood
Sophomore Rafael Sanchez splashes through the soggy grass and rain in the varsity race. Photo by Blake Wood
By GEORGE MORSE
Los Alamos Daily Post
The nationally-recognized Los Alamos High School cross country teams started their 2018 season with a strong showing at the University of New Mexico Lobo Invitational Saturday in Albuquerque.
The Hilltoppers dueled with long-time rival Albuquerque Academy, with the Chargers taking first place in both the boys and girls team standings.
The Lady Hilltoppers took second place with 60 points to the Chargers 55 points. Rio Rancho High School was a distant third with 136 points
Leading the way for the Lady Hilltoppers was freshman Norissa Valdez, who came in third in the girls varsity race. She clocked in with a time of 19 minutes, 31.3 seconds. Ali Upshaw of St. Michael High School from Arizona took first place with a time 19 minutes, 13.5 seconds. Academy’s Zoe Hunter was second in 19 minutes, 27.7 seconds.
Finishing in the top 10 for Los Alamos were eighth-grader Emma Montoya, who finished fifth with a time of 19 minutes, 53 seconds. Sophomore Lidia Appell was ninth with a time of 20 minutes, 10.4 seconds.
Rounding out the top five finishers for Los Alamos were sophomore Mabel Pyle, who was 15 th with a time of 20 minutes, 30.4 seconds. Senior Marin Kelly finished 27 th with a time of 21 minutes, 03.5 seconds (21:03.5) as the Hilltoppers fifth runner. Also competing in the varsity race were sophomore Hannah Gartz, who finished 29 th (21:07) and sophomore Tia Hartzol, who was 34 th with a time of 21 minutes, 12.15 seconds.
The Los Alamos boys team took third place, scoring 122 points. Academy came in first with 47 points, while El Paso Americas High School from Texas was second with 86 points.
Junior Steven Strevell was the top runner for the Hilltoppers, coming in second with a time of 16 minutes, 16.4 seconds.
Kirtland Central High School’s Kashon Harrison took first place with a time of 15 minutes, 47.1 seconds. Rio Rancho Cleveland High School’s Yonas Haile was third with a time of 16 minutes, 16.18.6 seconds.
Senior Duncan Fuehne came in seventh for the Hilltoppers with a time of 16 minutes, 29.3 seconds. Senior Elijah Velasquez was 32nd for the Hilltoppers with a time of 17 minutes, 29 seconds. Junior Wyatt Watson came in 42nd with a time of 17 minutes, 47.1 seconds Los Alamos’ fifth runner was junior Hunter Swavely, who came in 48 th with a time of 17 minutes, 57.5 seconds.
Also competing in the varsity race was sophomore Rafael Sanchez, who was 53rd with a time of 18 minutes, 03.8 seconds and sophomore Noah Bridgewater, who was 73rd with a time of 18 minutes, 43 seconds.
Since 2000, coaches Rob Hipwood and Kathy Hipwood have led the Hilltoppers to 18 state cross country championships, including 13 for the girls and five for the boys. During that time, their rivals Albuquerque Academy have won 16 state championships, including 12 boys and four girls state championships. Both programs have received national recognition and it looks like they’ll battle each other again in 2018.
Los Alamos will compete Thursday in the LAXC Runathon.
Freshman Ryan Aldaz was the first ‘Topper in the combined JV/C/College/Open race. His time of 18:18 was the 6th fastest ‘Topper time of the day, across all races. Photo by Blake Wood
Junior Steven Strevell was the fastest ‘Topper of the day, placing 2nd in a very competitive varsity race with a time of 16:16. Photo by Blake Wood
Senior Marin Kelly and sophomore Tia Hartzol match strides midway through the varsity race. Photo by Blake Wood
Josh Stein and Gabe Katko encourage their teammates. Photo by Blake Wood