Matthew Edwards won the battle. Los Alamos won the war.
Arguably the top boys team in New Mexico, Los Alamos came north Saturday to engage in a little skirmish with some Colorado teams. That skirmish almost sent the Hilltoppers back across Colorado's southern border with a defeat. Almost, but not quite.
In the battle of top individuals, Matthew Edwards took over early and never felt a threat from behind thereafter. Edwards would take the win in 15:28, more than 30 seconds ahead of second place. The Hilltoppers' Keith Bridge, who currently owns the top time in New Mexico, would eventually finish fourth, but he would find not only Edwards, but also Land Lambert and Damian Frausto of Durango, beyond his reach.
TCA's team position improved when Chandler Wilburn crossed the finish line in fifth. Los Alamos answered, however, with Rowan Flores at 10 and Morgan Schaller at 12. The Classical Academy rolled with punches and kept coming back. Eventually, however, the team score tilted 81-86 in favor of Los Alamos. Homestanding Alamosa rode a crest of enthusiastic energy to finish third with 113. Rio Rancho (NM) edged Durango for fourth.
Alamosa doesn't get many opportunities to sleep in a little and run in front of the home crowd, and the Mean Moose put up a spirited effort. Isaac Higareda led the way with an 8th-place finish.
Though Salida ran only five boys in the varsity race, the Spartans left a mark even so. The brother tandem of Elijah Wilcox and Ezekiel Wilcox finished 6th and 9th. If you're casting about for freshman-of-the-year candidates, Ezekiel should make your short list.
An hour later, the girls were on the course to settle their end of the bargain.
TCA started the race short two of their top eight. They finished the race short three. Consequently, the Titans lost the chances they might have had for a team title. With the Titans mostly out of the hunt, Durango showed how important a team pack is to winning cross country meets.
Willow Lott led the Demons in third. Abby Fehr and Angela McManus also claimed top-ten finishes. That gave the Demons the edge they needed to dispatch Alamosa to second place, 55-72. Los Alamos and The Classical Academy tied for third at 81, with the tie-breaker going to the Hilltoppers.
Delaney Ulrich of the Hilltoppers slipped just under 19 minutes to claim the individual title. Elizabeth Carlos of Mesa Ridge, an early candidate for Colorado's most improved runner of 2021, claimed second, only five seconds back of Ulrich. The lead pack for this race took an unusually long time to break up. In the end, six girls finished within 30 second of Ulrich; the next six places spanned all of 12 seconds.
In middle school news of note, Centauri's Macey McCarroll ran unchallenged to the girls individual title. She's only in 6th grade, though, so it will take a while before we see her at the high school level. Judah Daffron of Taos also soloed his way to an individual title.