Prep track and field: Los Alamos teams reign supreme; Cleveland boys, La Cueva girls also are champs - Albuquerque Journal

Prep track and field: Los Alamos teams reign supreme; Cleveland boys, La Cueva girls also are champs


(Class 4A-5A track and field results)

Copyright © 2023 Albuquerque Journal

Sure, they’re scored separately. Compete separately. And when things go well – and to be clear, they often do – get separate trophies, too.

But to some, Los Alamos’ recent run of success has been as one team, not two.

For the third straight year, the Hilltoppers swept the 4A state team championships at the 4A and 5A track and field championships held on Friday and Saturday at the UNM Track/Soccer Complex. They’re the first school to achieve the feat since Cleveland’s boys and girls did the same from 2015-17.

“That is something that we have tried to promote within (the program), that we are one team,” Los Alamos boys track and field coach Steven Montoya said. “We’re all Hilltoppers and for the last three years now, both genders have been team champs. I know I draw a lot of inspiration looking just at the girls’ team at practice.

“They’re an example of greatness. And we try to rise our level to match that as well.”

Los Alamos’ girls, by and large the state’s best team in any classification this season, more than looked the part with a final point total of 176.50. Not even runner-up Albuquerque Academy (76) was within 100 points of the winners. Portales (27) took third as the Hilltoppers won 12 of Saturday’s events outright.

Jaiya Daniels accounted for five of them. The sophomore sprinter was the model of dominance, winning the 100-meter dash (12.553 seconds), 200 (24.637) and triple jump while adding state championships in the 4×100 relay (48.35) with Angelina Passalacqua, Meredith Brown and Allie Holland and 4×200 (1:42.51) with Holland, Brown and Syana Sanchez.

When speaking about Daniels, Los Alamos girls coach Ernest Martinez noted how difficult it is for younger athletes to balance that many events — much less win them in impressive fashion.

“It was a great sign of maturity, how she was able to navigate that this weekend,” he said.

As for Daniels? She said she wasn’t necessarily surprised by the team success but was overjoyed by it regardless.

“To excel the way we’re excelling now, it’s really exciting,” she said.

On the boys side, Los Alamos scored 91 points to stave off a stout Albuquerque Academy (73) with Artesia (48) finishing third. Melaki Gutierrez led the Hilltoppers in points scored, tallying wins in the 100 (11.018), 200 (21.308) and 4×200 (1:30.578) with Daniel Kim, Julian Singell and Lyas Eidenbenz.

“We had the firepower, we just needed to come and do it,” Montoya said of his team.

“I didn’t ask anybody to overachieve or try to hit a home run, but just come in, not feel (the) pressure and compete to the best of their ability. And that’s all we asked for.”

  • In 5A, La Cueva took home its first girls team championship since 2019, grinding out 76 points to best Alamogordo (65.5) and Hobbs (64) in second and third, respectively. Head coach Jim Ciccarello noted Friday’s 4×800 relay, a tight second-place finish, “jump-started” his team into action for the rest of the weekend.

“Then the kids were willing to fight hard to try and get points,” he said. “Every kid that ran, jumped or threw was trying to get a point or two points for this team.”

And while the Bears managed steady podium finishes on Friday and Saturday with the Tigers and Eagles hot on their heels, they undoubtedly got their biggest assist from Sima Lucero. The senior hurdler and sprinter capped off a dazzling prep career with state championships in the 100-meter hurdles (14.739), 300-meter hurdles (44.631), 200 (24.879) and the 4×400 (4:07.018) with Alexis Haddock, Tessa Undegraff and Natalie Pfeiffer.

While Lucero noted a few times were a little slower than she would prefer, she said she was happy with her performances at the very end of a four-year run in which Ciccarello considers her the best athlete in the state.

“It didn’t hit me that this is my last high school meet until like after (the 300),” she said.

“I was like, ‘Oh, wow, that was the last time hurdling in high school.’ But really, no matter what the results were, times, place, I just wanted to try my best.”

  • Cleveland boys’ reign of 5A supremacy was commemorated with the final trophy presentation of the day after scoring 91 points with La Cueva (53) and Organ Mountain (40) the closest behind.

Discounting the state meet’s cancellation due to COVID-19 in 2020, the Storm has won seven consecutive 5A team championships and nine of the last 10.

“We put a lot of stock into having as complete of a team as we can, have people qualified in all the events and getting there and contributing points wherever,” coach Kenny Henry said.

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