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Los Alamos And Academy Duel At Invite

on October 31, 2018 - 7:50am

The annual Los Alamos Invite cross country meet Friday afternoon at the County Golf Course pitted the Hilltoppers against the Academy Chargers. The Chargers beat the Toppers in previous matches, but at home the Toppers were victorious, winning the meet by 2 points. Photo by John McHale/

The start of the Los Alamos Invite for the Topper Girls Cross Country team. The Topper girls place second behind the Academy Chargers. Photo by John McHale/

By George Morse
Sports Editor
Los Alamos Daily Post

The two premier Class 4A cross country programs in the state squared off at the Los Alamos Invitational cross country meet Friday at the Los Alamos Golf Course.

Los Alamos High School and Albuquerque Academy have dueled at the State cross country meet for the last 17 years, with one school or the other winning 35 of the last 36 boys and girls state cross country championships.

In what was a preview of what will likely be another duel between the Hilltoppers and the Chargers Nov. 10 at this year’s state cross country meet, Los Alamos finished ahead of Academy in the boys race. The Lady Chargers won the girls race.

The Hilltoppers prevailed by the close margin of just two points, scoring 39 points while Academy finished with 41 points. Leading the charge for the Hilltoppers were a senior, a junior and a sophomore. The trio of Duncan Fuehne, Steven Strevell and Rafael Sanchez has emerged as the frontrunners for Los Alamos.

The three seem to take turns as to who is going to lead the pack. At Los Alamos, it was senior Fuehne who led the way. He finished second overall with a time of 16 minutes, 29.61 seconds. Right behind him in third place was sophomore Sanchez with a time of 16 minutes, 30.04 seconds. Junior Strevell followed closely behind Sanchez, finishing fourth with a time of 16 minutes, 30.52 seconds.

It was the second meet in a row where the three Los Alamos runners finished fractions of a second of each other.

Right behind the Hilltoppers trio came a trio of Academy runners. Oliver Pilon came in fifth, Julian Garcia finished sixth and Justin Hickey came in seventh. When Academy’s Jesse Sanchez finished in 11th place and the Chargers’ Anish Kumar was right behind him in 12th place, five Academy runners had crossed the finish line. The Chargers had scored 41 points. It would be up to Los Alamos’ fourth and fifth runners to determine where the Hilltoppers would finish.

Freshman Keith Bridge crossed the finish line in 14th place with a time of 17 minutes, 39.12 seconds, giving the Hilltoppers a total of 23 points with one runner still to come, it was down to the fifth runner. Los Alamos’ senior Shawn Williams crossed the finish line in 16th place with a time of 17 minutes, 43.42 seconds. That gave the Hilltoppers a total of 39 points. Los Alamos had taken first place by two points.

Although the drama was the duel between Los Alamos and Academy for the team title, the race for the individual championship wasn’t even close. Senior Yonas Haile of Class 5A Sue Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho dominated the race. He came in first with a time of 16 minutes, 05.20 seconds. He helped Cleveland take third place in the team standings with 64 points.

In the girls race, the youthful Lady Hilltoppers gave it their best shot, but fell a little short of catching the Lady Chargers for the team title. The Chargers scored 31 points, while the Hilltoppers scored 48 points to finish second.

Academy was led by senior Zoe Hunter, who took first place with a time of 19 minutes, 26.66 seconds. Sophomre Grace Archibeck finished fourth and senior Jane Archibeck was right behing her in fifth place for Academy. Senior Grace Alley was eighth and junior Jessica Allen was 13th to complete the scoring for the Chargers.

The Hilltoppers were paced by freshman Norissa Valdez, who came in third with a time of 19 minutes, 40.87 seconds. Eighth-grader Emma Montoya was next for Los Alamos, finishing ninth with a time of 20 minutes, 26.56 seconds. Marin Kelly, a rare senior on a team dominated by underclassmen, finished right behind Montoya with a time of 20 minutes, 30.11 seconds.

Sophomore Hannah Gartz was next for Los Alamos, finishing 12th with a time of 20 minutes, 42.17 seconds. Sophomore Lidia Appell was the Hilltoppers fifth runner, coming in just ahead of teammate Mabel Pyle at 14th place with a time of 20 minutes, 46.77 seconds to complete the scoring for the Hilltoppers.

Sue Cleveland High School took third place with 60 points. The storm was paced by eighth-grader Leah Futey, who finished second.

The Hilltoppers will be competing at the District 2-4A cross country meet Nov. 2 at Pojoaque Valley High School. The Hilltoppers are heavy favorites to win both the boys and the girls district championships. It looks like another showdown at state between Los Alamos and Academy at the Class 4A State cross country meet Nov. 10 at Rio Rancho High School.

Stephen Strevell and Rafael Sanchez on the course. Photo by John McHale/

Elijah Valasquez and Hunter Swavely pace each other. Photo by John McHale/

The Topper boys like to run with their teammates. Keith Bridge, Hunter Swavely and Shawn Williams run together near the end of the race. Photo by John McHale/

Duncan Fuehne was the top finisher for the Toppers finishing in 2nd place. Photo by John McHale/

Close behind Duncan Fuehne finished in 3rd and 4th Rafael Sanchez and Stephen Stevell. Photo by John McHale/

Norissa Valdez runs in the pack near the start of the race. Photo by John McHale/

Hannah Gartz running strong near the midpoint of the race. Photo by John McHale/

Lidia Appell running near the midpoint of the race. Photo by John McHale/

Norissa Valdez kicks hard to beat a Charger runner at the finish line placing in 3rd place for the race. Photo by John McHale/

Emma Montoya approaches the finish line, finishing in 9th place. Photo by John McHale/

Marin Kelly strides into the finish line finishing in 10th place. Photo by John McHale/