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SANTA FE — Coming off a recent victory over the Bernalillo Spartans, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys golf team was feeling confident heading into Friday’s District 2AAAA championship tournament.
But, although the Hilltoppers shot relatively well Friday, that was apparently no deterrent for the Spartans.
The 2AAAA championship tournament, which was played in thin conditions at the Santa Fe Country Club, was one of the most hotly-contested district contests in recent years with the Hilltoppers, Spartans and Española Valley’s Sundevils all having a legitimate shots at the district title and the automatic bid to the state Class AAAA tournament that comes with it.
Los Alamos finished with a total of 338 strokes, a good score for the team, but not enough to hold off the Spartans.
Bernalillo’s top two players, Jeremy Naranjo and Pat Herrera, both finished with a score of 77 to lead the rest of the field and the Spartans to an 11-shot victory over the Hilltoppers.
Despite one of the best seasons in the history of the Española Valley program, the Sundevils finished in third position with 342 strokes.
Individually for the Hilltoppers, Thomas Herrera finished third overall. Herrera, Los Alamos’ top player, came back from three strokes down to put the pressure on Naranjo, playing in his group, in the final two holes, but a good chip from Naranjo on 18 put him within five feet of the cup and his following putt dropped in to hold Herrera off.
Herrera, like the Hilltoppers, just missed out on a chance to go to state this season with his finish of 78.
Following his round, Herrera said a win by Los Alamos would’ve done him and his team good.
“It would be huge,” Herrera said, talking about a berth at state. “It would be fantastic if we did that.”
While the finish was disappointing for Los Alamos, it will have four of its top five players back for next year. It loses only senior Henry Stam, its No. 2 player.
Following Herrera’s round, Hilltoppers Jin Park and Tim Branch both finished with 86. Stam had an 88 and Woody Moss carded a 90.
Hilltopper head coach John Stam said he was proud of the way his team ended the season, especially against the elements at Friday’s tournament. Snow fell on-and-off Friday and much of the day’s temperatures hovered at or just a hair above freezing.
“I think the weather doesn’t have that big of an effect,” Stam said. “We all have to play in the same conditions. If anything, the weather had an effect during the first five weeks of the season.”
The Hilltoppers were relegated to a shortened practice season this year because of poor conditions at Los Alamos Golf Course, which Stam said set the team back for much this spring season.