Boys golf: LA takes 5th at home invite Monday

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By Mike Cote

It was a day for low scores Monday on the boys’ side of the Los Alamos Fall Invitational.
The Los Alamos Hilltopper boys golf team hosted the tournament, which was played at Los Alamos Golf Course. The competition, played under near ideal conditions, boasted a dozen sub-80 rounds on the day.
Nearly half of those low scores were posted by the Hope Christian Huskies. The Huskies, who play in the small-school classification, had all five of their top players shoot under 80 Monday, while their sixth player missed by just two strokes on joining them.
Hope ran away with the team title Monday, firing a team score of 304, 22 shots ahead of runner-up Bernalillo, which finished with a very respectable 326.
The Hilltoppers placed fifth in team competition, shooting a 348. In all, seven full teams took part in the tournament.
Los Alamos head coach John Stam, the school’s reigning Coach of the Year, said the fall 2010 season is going to be about improvement.
“We made a lot of progress from the last tournament to this one,” Stam said. “Some of the kids’ short game is really coming along.”
Monday’s tournament was the second of the season for the Hilltoppers, who finished third at the Bernalillo Invitational earlier this month.
Los Alamos hasn’t earned a team qualification leg for state in its two outings this fall — three legs are required for a team to advance to the state tournament, which will be played in May — but at least one member of the Hilltoppers is poised to make the trip, even if he’s not accompanied by his teammates.
Senior Thomas Herrera, who like the rest of the Hilltoppers just missed out on a state Class AAAA tournament berth this spring, picked up an individual leg Monday. Herrera shot a 77 Monday, good enough to pick up his second leg of the season.
Herrera, Los Alamos’ No. 1 player, was just 1-over par on the front side during his round and stayed nearly on the clip through the backside to leave himself just one qualifying score from making his first state title appearance since 2008.
He birdied the fourth hole to get his day going and played close to par for the balance of his day.
On most days, his 5-over would’ve kept him right in the hunt for an individual medal, but Herrera’s finish was well off the torrent pace set by some of the top golfers in the tournament.
Bernalillo’s Jeremy Naranjo, who is actually No. 2 on the Spartans’ depth chart, won the overall competition with his even-par 72.
Naranjo nipped Raton’s Joe Apache by one stroke, while Hope’s Jay Hickey was third, firing a 75.
Also Monday, Hilltopper Woody Moss turned in a career low round of 79. Moss finished with a very solid 38 on the back nine — most scores Monday were higher on the back than on the front — to help out the Hilltoppers’ cause.
Moss, of whom Stam said has elevated his game this fall, just missed out on his first qualification leg of the season by one stroke.
Also for Los Alamos in the tournament, Tim Branch scored a 95, Dillon Alexander had a 97 and eighth-grader Jonathan Osden finished with a 98.