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An hour-long weather delay didn’t seem to do too much to dampen the spirits of the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys golf team Monday.
With most players at Monday’s Los Alamos Invitational having five or six holes remaining, a significant rain and thunderstorm blew right over Los Alamos Golf Course, forcing the stoppage.
But the Hilltoppers seemed to take the delay in stride, coasting to a big victory at the tournament. The Hilltoppers finished with a team score of 345 shots, 12 shots better than runner-up Belen and, most significantly, 15 strokes better than third-place finisher Bernalillo.
Los Alamos, Bernalillo and Española Valley, which is having one of its best seasons in school history, could well duke it out for the District 2AAAA title next week at Santa Fe Country Club.
On the line in the 2AAAA tournament is nothing less than a trip to the Class AAAA championship tournament for the winner.
The Hilltoppers placed three golfers in the top 10 individually at home, including Jin Park, who carded a career-best 84, tying him for the team’s lead with top player Thomas Herrera.
“The course played pretty friendly (Monday),” Park said. “On the front nine, the pin placements weren’t at all too difficult. If you hit the ball well, you had a good opportunity. It was just a matter of dropping the putts.”
Park opened his day with a pair of birdies, on No. 17 — his first hole — and No. 1 and was on pace to close out his round at 80 or better heading back to the back nine, but unfortunately, couldn’t finish as well as he’d started.
Nevertheless, Park said he was happy about his and his team’s performances during the spring season, particularly with the district tournament looming.
“It’s probably just focusing on not losing our morale,” he said. “Just getting good shots and just playing golf. The one thing we can’t lose going into that tournament is that confidence.”
Monday’s tournament was the lone home appearance Los Alamos will make during the spring. It has just one regular season tournament remaining, Monday at Farmington, before the April 30 district contest.
Winning the individual championship was East Mountain’s Grant Storrey, who finished just 1-over par. His closest competitor was Bernalillo’s Jeremy Naranjo, who carded a 5-over 77.
While Naranjo will be among the favorites to win the 2AAAA individual title, Hilltopper head coach John Stam is hoping his team’s depth will come through.
“We lost just one in the spring to Bernalillo and we got it back (Monday),” Stam said. “We should be the slight favorites going in. If we play our best, we should win district.”
Herrera, the only Hilltopper individual who has earned a state qualification score this season, also started strong Monday, posting a birdie on the first hole and stayed close to par most of the rest of the day.
Senior Henry Stam finished right behind Herrera and Park, carding an 86 on the day.
1. Los Alamos, 345; 2. Belen, 357; 3. Bernalillo, 360; 4. Santa Fe, 367; 5. Los Lunas, 377; 6. Taos, 379.
1. Grant Storrey, East Mountain, 73; 2. Jeremy Naranjo, Bernalillo, 77; 3. Daniel Goldberg, Belen, 80; 4. Gavin Gutierrez, Los Lunas, 84; 5. Thomas Herrera, 84; 6. Jin Park, 84; 7. Victor Grijalva, 84; 8. Henry Stam, 86; 9. Chris McCallum, Taos, 87; 10. Robbie Carpenter, Taos, 88; Tim Branch, 91; Woody Moss, 92.
Los Alamos JV results
Brett Snow, 109; Adam Sayre, 117; Mathias Jaramillo, 119; Dillon Alexander, 127; Todd Zollinger, 130