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Los Alamos High School To Induct 2017 Hall Of Fame Members

on September 28, 2017 - 7:13am

By RJ Montaño
Los Alamos Daily Post

rjmontano@ladailypost.com

It’s one of the highest honors an athlete can get to be inducted into any hall of fame – to be among a group of individuals considered particularly illustrious as players or coaches. On Oct. 1, Los Alamos High School will induct nine members into the Sports Hall of Fame 2017 Class.

Larry Baca

Graduated: 1974
Sports: (Played) Football, Basketball, Baseball, Wrestling, Track & Field;
(Coached) 28 seasons, Boys’ Track & Field
Accolades: Several Coaching Awards
 
Larry Baca graduated from Los Alamos High School in 1974 as a five-sport star for the Hilltoppers and later returned to coach the Boys’ Track & Field team for 28 seasons. In his playing days, Baca remembers being on the 1972 football team that went undefeated with a 10-0 record.
 
“One of things that stands out about that team is we didn’t have any real all stars. We didn’t have anyone that was super-amazingly talented. We just had a lot of kids with big hearts that played hard and enjoyed every minute of it,” Baca told the Los Alamos Daily Post. “The coaches were amazing, too. They set the tone from the very beginning and that’s made the season very special. Going 10-0 is pretty cool, but there was such a bond with that team, and that’s what really stands out.”
 
Baca came back to LAHS as an English teacher and boys’ track coach, winning the New Mexico Boys Track and Field championships twice during his tenure. With many fond memories about his teams, Baca shared a story about his first state championship in 1995.
 
“It came down to the mile relay, which is the last event of the state track meet. Back in those days you didn’t know what the other teams had, but I was keeping track of my team. I knew we needed to finish third or better to have a shot at winning, and we finished third. The news that we had won was given to me by the coach of Bloomfield, who I had worked as an assistant for four years, and he came up, and we’re moping around and said, ‘I got you guys beating Academy.’ Sure enough, we beat Academy by one point for the state championship.”
 
Baca’s brother Bill Baca also shared a couple stories about Larry.
 
“Several years ago, when we were at my house in Albuquerque for one of our annual brother-get-togethers, a couple of the brothers thought it would be funny to throw Larry into the pool, fully clothed. The two brothers quickly learned that they were no match for Larry’s brute strength and asked for the other brothers to help subdue him and toss him in. I recall at least three or four brothers trying to toss him into the pool and failing miserably as he fought us off and began throwing us into the pool one-by-one. And these were the days when we were all in pretty good physical shape. We learned a lesson that day and never messed with Larry again,” Bill Baca told the Los Alamos Daily Post.  
 
Nowadays, you can find Larry on the golf course or elk hunting with family.
 
“I play golf anywhere from four to nine times a week. I highly recommend retirement,” Baca joked. “I usually run or mountain bike in the morning and play 9 holes in the afternoon. It doesn’t get much better.”
 
As for going into the LAHS Sports Hall of Fame, Baca was quick to praise his assistants.
 
“I was blessed with some amazing assistant coaches. I feel strongly that they’re a big reason I’m even mentioned because over the years they kept me in line and prevented me from making a lot of dumb mistakes, and they made me look good.”
 
Ann Stewart

Ann Stewart of the class 1991 is one of the inductees for the Sports Hall of Fame. Courtesy Photo​
 
Graduated: 1991
Sports: Soccer, Basketball
Accolades: District Player of the Year
 
Ann Stewart was a four-year letter winner in soccer and basketball at Los Alamos High School. Stewart was named the 1990 District Player of the Year for allowing only four goals on the season as a goalkeeper, while LAHS narrowly missed the state tournament that season despite a 13-2-1 record.
 
“Those two losses were both a 1-0 loss, and the tie was a 0-0 tie, that was the crushing part,” Stewart remembered of her junior season. “That was when only the top two teams from the district made the tournament. A team that was 5-6 from a different district went over us.”
 
One of Stewart’s favorite memories about playing soccer for the ‘Toppers was when an Albuquerque team came to Los Alamos and got put in their place. “La Cueva walked on Sullivan field asking, ‘where’s the red carpet’ because they had just come out as a top 20 team in the nation by Soccer America and we tied them 1-1. It was just a cool feeling,” Stewart said.

Stewart would go on to play college soccer at Creighton University before a back injury would end her soccer career. Stewart also has fond memories of when she played basketball for the ‘Toppers.
 
“Getting to play in The Pit, as a kid growing up in New Mexico, getting the chance to run down the ramp and onto that floor, it’s an incredible feeling, as a player and a coach,” Stewart told the Los Alamos Daily Post.
 
Longtime voice of the Hilltoppers Morrie Pongratz also has a favorite basketball memory of Stewart.
 
“There was a game at Griffith Gymnasium where Ann was just filling it up, I think she ended up with 37 points, but had 25 at halftime. She was hot that night and hitting from everywhere. It was a performance to be admired,” Pongratz remembered.
 
“It’s obviously an honor considering the people who’ve already gone in [to the Hall of Fame], and to be thought of in the same ranks as those folks,” Stewart said about being inducted into the LAHS Hall of Fame.  
 
Stewart is now back in Los Alamos and is the athletic director for Los Alamos High School.
 
“It’s not something I ever really imagined, it’s a different role but I think I have a built-in love for the school and the town. I remember back in the day what it was, and hope that we get there again. It’s a cool experience to come back and having my own family and raising my kid here, it’s a great place to raise a kid.”
 
Amy Eilert-Lyman

Angie Eilert-Lyman, second from right, is one of the newest inductees to the Sports Hall of Fame. Also pictured here is fellow inductee Angie Smith Morris, second from left. Courtesy photo
 
Graduated: 1989
Sports: Volleyball, Basketball, Track & Field
 
Amy Eilert-Lyman played four years of volleyball and basketball for Los Alamos High School and also participated on the track & field team for two years. After graduating in 1989, Eilert, now Eilert-Lyman, earned a full ride scholarship to play volleyball at Michigan State University. After playing for the Spartans, Eilert entered the coaching ranks herself with a combined 30 seasons of coaching volleyball and basketball under her belt.
 
While at LAHS, Eilert-Lyman was on the 1987 state championship volleyball team that beat the highly ranked West Mesa Mustangs for the title.
 
“We were the underdogs and we beat a team we weren’t supposed to,” Eilert-Lyman remembered. “We went from a horrible team that no one ever heard of to state champions.”
 
Eilert-Lyman also remembers beating the Eldorado Eagles in the semi-finals of the state tournament.
 
“[Eldorado] had been undefeated for three seasons with [plenty] of wins in a row. It was a huge upset and a phenomenal game. Unfortunately, the next night we lost to Santa Fe in the championship game. We had already played Santa Fe three times, and beat them three times so it was devastating because we felt like we played the championship the night before.”
 
“I’m really honored to be selected, I really loved my time at Los Alamos High School,” Eilert-Lyman said about going into the LAHS Sports Hall of Fame. “I’m really thrilled, it’s been almost 15 years since I’ve been to Los Alamos, so that in and of itself will be fun. I’m really grateful.”
 
Eilert-Lyman lives in Pennsylvania where she works as a labor and delivery registered nurse.
 
Angie Smith Morris

Angie Smith of the class of 1989 is an inductee of the Sports Hall of Fame. Courtesy Photo​
 
Graduated: 1989
Sports: Volleyball, Track & Field
Accolades: Volleyball: 1st Team All-District 1987 & 88, 1st Team All-Star 1987 & 88, North-South All-Star 1989, Track: Member of State Champion 4x400 relay 1989
 
Angie Smith Morris joins the 2017 LAHS Hall of Fame class with two state titles to her name. One of her fondest memories was winning the 1987 volleyball championship over the highly touted West Mesa Mustangs.
 
“Record-wise, we were one of the worst teams in the state the year before,” Smith Morris reminisced. “First-year head coach Sally Shocky had us learn positive mantras and goal-setting and took that same team and barged our way to the state championship.”
 
Being a part of the 1989 state championship 4x400 relay team brings back both negative and positive feelings.
 
“My senior year we had some strong 400-meter runners. We had also had a strong relay team,” Smith Morris said. “I participated in multiple events and developed plantar fasciitis.  I went to the doctor and he said he could give me a cortisone shot to help that. I asked if I could participate in the district meet that weekend. I was anchoring the 4x200 and my plantar fascia ruptured. The cortisone shot weakened the injury and there was too much stress on the foot. It ruptured as I was running down the straight away so I wasn’t able to finish.”
 
The 4x400-meter team would end up winning the state championship, but Smith Morris had to watch from the sidelines.
 
“That was a bummer,” she recalled.
 
“I’ve had a few high school friends inducted, and it’s definitely an honor to be placed next to them,” Smith Morris said about getting inducted into the LAHS Sports Hall of Fame.
 
After 18 years of being a stay-at-home and homeschool mom, Smith Morris proudly boasted about her son who is on a collegiate track and field team. She has also started coaching crossfit at Blackbox Fitness in Albuquerque.
 
Mike Lebby
Graduated: 1973
Sports: Football, Wrestling, Basketball, Baseball, Golf
Accolades: 4-Time Coach of the Year in Texas Football
 
A five-sport letter winner while at Los Alamos High School, Mike Lebby would go on to have a successful 30-year career as a high school football coach in West Texas and the Fort Worth area. While at Andrews High School, Coach Lebby would win four Coach of the Year awards.
 
A highlight of Lebby’s time at Los Alamos High School was being a part of the 1973 football team that went undefeated.
 
“When we beat Farmington to go 10-0 my senior year, we had a good football team, but we hadn’t beat Farmington in years. We beat them 21-19 in a heck of a football game that I’ll never forget,” Lebby remembered.
 
When asked about being inducted into the Los Alamos High School Sports Hall of Fame, Lebby said, “I’ll tell ya, I’m truly humbled. I had wonderful teammates and coaches and I’m very humbled to achieve something like this.”
 
Lebby is now retired and living in the Fort Worth area where he works part time out of his home in sales.
 
Jana Giesler

Jana Giesler of the class of 1992 is one of the inductees of the Sports Hall of Fame. Courtesy Photo​
 
Graduated: 1992
Sports: Soccer, Basketball, Track & Field
Accolades: State High Jump Record (Current)
 
Jana Giesler’s, now Patterson’s, high jump of 5 feet 10 ¼ inches in 1991 is still the state record for overall and for class 6A.
 
 “It’s crazy that it’s still there. We joke about the fact that every year it gets a year older. It’s now old enough to vote and have a drink,” Giesler Patterson joked about her record. Her brother set a state high jump record the following year and it was broken just a few years later.
 
“The most vivid memory I have is doing a backflip on the mat after breaking the state record. Now that I think about it, if the mat had bumped the standard, even slightly, and the bar had fallen, my record would have not counted. I knew as soon as I got off the mat that was the most stupid thing I ever did, but quite honestly, it’s the clearest memory I have of jumping in high school. That one second when you clear the bar,” Giesler Patterson said.
 
Another memory is attending track & field meets around the state and asking her coaches, “what’s the record for this meet? Can I break it?”
 
Giesler Patterson earned a scholarship to Michigan State University and was able to earn an engineering degree while participating in track. Competing at the Big 10 level was a bit of a shock as well.
 
“You’re competing week in and week out with girls who go on to run in the Olympics,” Giesler Patterson remembered. “Coming from high school, I thought I was a big fish in a small pond. And then I got to college and that was a huge, eye opening experience.”
 
Luckily, Giesler Patterson’s sister participated in track at rival Big 10 school Minnesota, and her brother at ACC school Georgia Tech, so she was able to see her siblings at meets around the country. At the Big 10 championships at Minnesota, Giesler Patterson was able to jump 5 feet 10 ¾ inches in front of her family.
 
“I was a little surprised to be picked because there are so many talented athletes and coaches from Los Alamos,” Geisler Patterson told the Los Alamos Daily Post about her induction.
 
After spending 15 years designing vehicles for the Ford Motor Company, Giesler Patterson is now the Modernization Manager for the Naval Sea Systems Command at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. modernizing submarines.
 
“We develop all the fixes to fix things that are broken or obsolete on all the different classes of submarines,” Giesler Patterson said. “From finding the money by working with Congress, all the way to actually installing the fixes. It’s really cool.”
 
Don Reid

Don Reid , a high school coach from 1984-2010, is one of the inductees for the Sports Hall of Fame. Courtesy Photo
 
Coached at LAHS: 1984-2010
Sports: Football, Track & Field, Basketball
Accolades: Assistant Coach of the Year

Don Reid coached the Los Alamos High School freshman boy’s basketball team in 1984-85, but is most recognized for his 26 year stint as an assistant coach for the football team, 14 years with boys track & field, and 10 years with girls track & field.
 
Kris Lundgaard

Graduated: 1977
Sports: Football, Track & Field
Accolades: Football: First 1st Team All-State Punter and Place Kicker, Honorable Mention Fullback 1976
Track: Shotput and Discus State Champion 1977, Second Place State Javelin, School Record Shotput and Discus, State 4A record Shotput
 
Kris Lundgaard was a stand out in the New Mexico Track and Field scene. Graduating in 1977, Lundgaard set a state record for shotput, and still holds the LAHS school record for shotput and discus. Lundgaard also excelled in football as a ‘Topper earning all-state accolades as a first 1st team punter and place kicker, while also earning honorable mention as a fullback.
 
After graduating from Los Alamos High School, Lundgaard earned a scholarship as a punter for Oklahoma State University. In two years of playing in the Big 8, which is now the Big 12, Lundgaard averaged around 40 yards a punt in his 22 games and 129 punts for the Cowboys.
 
Matt Walters (Posthumously)
Graduated: 1988
Sports: Swimming
 
Matt Walter was a record breaking swimmer at Los Alamo High School for five5 years. Early on, Walters was placed in a special education program for anger management, “but once he started swimming, he had something to focus on and something to feel good about. It was our gift that he received that turned his life around,” Cathy Walters, Matt’s mother said.
 
Matt Walters would go on to set school and state records in swimming and become an inspiration for his sister Karina, who also became a swimmer.
 
A memory that has stood with Cathy Walters was when Matt was in eighth grade swimming for LAHS.
 
“He was not happy with his prelim time, so he banged his head against the pool. When we saw him, he had this big red mark on head so we asked what had happened and he had to tell us ‘I kinda lost my cool.’ That was a symptom of his competitiveness.”
 
Both Matt and his sister Karina would swim collegiately for Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.  
 
Walters is being inducted into the Los Alamos Sports Hall of Fame posthumously as swimmer, but he was more than just a swimmer.
 
“It’s important to me to include not just his swimming, I want people to know he accomplished a lot in his life as far as inspiring people. He just had a great passion for swimming, and what it did for his own life,” Cathy Walters said. “I’m so very humbled that [Matt] is getting in. We’re so thankful for the coaches and teachers who had patience and took the time with him.”
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