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It’s been an eventful last couple of weeks for the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls golf team.
With less than half a spring season to go, head coach of the team, John McBride, left the program and left it in the hands of boys head coach John Stam.
Stam took the reins of both programs at arguably the season’s most critical juncture, just a few weeks before the District 2AAAA tournament and one of its best golfers, Alicia Herrera, inching closer to qualifying for the state Class AAAA tournament.
But Stam, who is now in his third season with the program, said the transition has been a relatively smooth one.
“The only challenge for me with the boys and the girls is that they play in different areas of the course,” Stam said. “As far as it being extra work on me, the girls are all fantastic. They’re very easy to teach.”
Los Alamos seemed to like what it saw at Monday’s Los Alamos Invitational, played at Los Alamos Golf Course. Los Alamos placed third overall in the final team standings, shooting a total of 412 strokes.
Class AAAA Belen, led by a solid lineup which includes Taylor Jaramillo and Arrianna Estrada, won the tournament with 391 shots, four shots better than Santa Fe.
Individually, Santa Fe’s standout senior Chanet Fiorina blazed to the title with a 3-over 75, easily topping the rest of the field. Only St. Michael’s Jamie Palermo (82) and Jaramillo (83) were within 11 strokes of Fiorina’s total.
While Los Alamos’ score failed to earn it a state qualification leg, at least one Hilltopper will take part in the state AAAA tournament, which is scheduled for May 10-11 in Las Cruces.
Hilltopper senior Alicia Herrera, who actually ran cross country in the fall and played in her first golf tournament of the academic school year just 10 days’ previous, earned her third qualification leg in as many outings.
Her score of 89, which placed her fifth overall, clinched a berth for her at the state meet.
Herrera played a steady game Monday, keeping close to the bogey range and avoided any big numbers. To finish off her round, Herrera parred her final three holes, including finding the green from 145 yards out from the short left rough, sticking her shot about 15 feet from the flag on the fifth hole — Herrera started her day on No. 8.
Los Alamos’ No. 2 player, Shelby Fellows, had a solid finish Monday as well, cracking the top 10 with her round of 107.
Fellows said being at home was of little advantage to her or the Hilltoppers.
“I actually think this is harder,” Fellows said of playing on the home course. “I don’t tend to do as well on the home course. You know this course, so it kind of doesn’t make sense.”
Monday’s play was suspended about two-thirds of the way through due to a thunderstorm that swept through the area, but most of Los Alamos’ scores remained close to their pace following the delay.