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One of the main goals for the Los Alamos Hilltopper golf teams Monday was to take some of the pressure off the rest of their season.
Unfortunately for both, the pressure is still on.
With the 2009 spring season winding down, neither of the Hilltopper teams has clinched a spot at the state Class AAAA tournament next month. While the Los Alamos boys no longer have the opportunity to clinch prior to the District 2AAAA tournament, the Hilltopper girls could’ve punched their ticket at their home invitational.
But for the third time this year, Los Alamos’ girls missed a state qualifying leg by two strokes. Two of those times have come at Los Alamos Golf Course.
The Hilltopper girls finished second in team competition Monday with their score of 398 strokes. The Hilltopper boys, meanwhile, finished fourth with a combined score of 348.
Santa Fe won the girls team competition Monday with a 390, while Belen shot a 340 to win the boys team title. Individually, Ricco Tapia of Raton shot an even-par 72 to win the boys medal and Amanda Estrada of Belen shot an 88 to top the girls leaderboard.
Estrada’s teammate, Taylor Jaramillo, carded an 82 Monday, but two strokes were disputed by her playing partners Monday and she was disqualified for signing an inaccurate scorecard.
Both Estrada and Jaramillo finished in the top four individually at the 2008 state championship tournament.
Los Alamos’ girls were paced by Miranda Olinger, who finished tied for third overall with her 95, while the Hilltopper boys were led by Thomas Herrera’s 81.
Los Alamos’ boys were squaring off against their main district rival, Bernalillo, Monday, the team they will have to upset at the 2AAAA tournament May 4 to make it to the AAAA state title event. Bernalillo, however, got the better of Los Alamos by six shots.
With just one event remaining before the district tournament, which will be played in Taos, Los Alamos will have its work cut out for it.
“We each have to shave off two or three strokes,” Hilltopper Tim Branch said.
For the Hilltopper boys, Herrera had a 39 at the turn Monday. He started off his round with a pair of birdies but took a double-bogey on eight, despite a mid-fairway drive that left him only about 175 yards off the green, and a 1-over on nine.
Herrera, who is one of only two Hilltoppers to have earned an individual qualifying leg this season, thought his day could’ve gone a little better.
“I was playing pretty well…then I started hitting my irons really bad,” he said. “I had to rely on my short game and that wasn’t going that great.”
Many players said the greens were hard to read Monday, particularly on the back nine. Some greens were lightning fast and others were slow and bumpy.
Henry Stam, the other Hilltopper who has made a state qualifying leg this season, finished second among the Hilltoppers with his 88.
For Bernalillo, Lyle Tso (80) and Jeremy Naranjo (84) both cracked the top 10 individually.
On the girls side, Olinger parred two holes on the front side and two more on the backside to keep pace with partner Chanet Fiorina of Santa Fe, one of the top players in northern New Mexico.
Olinger had some good approaches and a good out from a bunker on the second hole, but like many players Monday, struggled to get her putts to fall.
Los Alamos is just one qualifying leg shy of securing a team spot in the AAAA tournament. The girls, who have just one tournament left — next week in Colorado — will go into the 2AAAA tournament as a solid favorite, but aren’t comfortable with having all their eggs in one basket at this point in the season.
“I thought we were confident to play this course well,” Hilltopper Julie Chung said. “But I underestimated it. I didn’t focus on every single shot.”
Chung, Alicia Herrera and Olinger have all earned legs this season. Olinger, who has already earned six legs, will represent Los Alamos at state regardless of what happens to the team and Chung and Herrera could still get in as well with good showings the next two weeks.
No one around the Hilltoppers is looking forward to doing anything piecemeal, however.
“It’s disappointing,” junior Alicia Herrera said. “I guess we all did our best…but we need one more leg and we were hoping to get it at home.”
Hilltopper girls head coach John McBride said next week’s tournament at the tough Cougar Canyon course in Trinidad, Colo., might actually be good for the Hilltoppers, who have generally played better on tougher courses this season.
Los Alamos’ boys, meanwhile, have been working on cultivating a young squad throughout the fall and spring seasons. Only Herrera, a sophomore, had spent any significant time with the varsity coming into the fall 2008 season.
Head coach John Stam said he’s not worried about what happens at the end of this season as Los Alamos wanted more than anything to build a good foundation beyond 2008-09.
“With our age and experience, we’re actually ahead of schedule,” Stam said. “We’re awfully young. For as young as the guys are, two spring qualifying legs is a surprise. I didn’t think we’d get those. It puts us a little ahead of where I thought we’d be.”
Here are the results from Monday’s Los Alamos Invitational. Golfers are from Los Alamos unless otherwise indicated.
1. Santa Fe, 390; 2. Los Alamos, 398; 3. Las Vegas Robertson, 407; 4. Aztec, 458; 5. St. Michael’s, 473.
1. Amanda Estrada, Belen, 88; 2. Jamie Palermo, St. Michael’s, 94; 3. Miranda Olinger, 95; (tie) Chanet Fiorina, Santa Fe, 95; (tie) Andrea Grijalva, Santa Fe, 95; 6. Jamie Allen, Robertson, 97; 7. Alicia Herrera, 98; (tie) Robyn West, Santa Fe, 98; 9. Jayme Quintana, Robertson, 99; 10. Julie Chung, 101; Morgan Vaughn, 104; Sarah McBride, 127.
Los Alamos individuals
Shelby Fellows, 117; Aislinn McDonald, 136.
1. Belen, 340; 2. Bernalillo, 342; 3. Raton, 345; 4. Los Alamos, 348; 5. Moriarty, 351; 6. Santa Fe, 353; 7. Aztec, 396; 8. Las Vegas Robertson, 412; 9. West Las Vegas, 458.
1. Ricco Tapia, Raton, 72; 2. Collin Pratt, Desert Academy, 74; 3. Ted Flores, Belen, 75; 4. Daniel Goldberg, Belen, 77; 5. Julian Burns, Santa Fe, 78; 6. Lyle Tso, Bernalillo, 80; 7. Thomas Herrera, 81; 8. Jeremy Naranjo, Bernalillo, 84; 9. Adrian Quintana, Aztec, 86; (tie) Dustin Haraden, Santa Fe, 86; Henry Stam, 88; Kory Nelson, 89; Tim Branch, 90; Jin Park, 97.
Los Alamos JV
Woody Moss, 87; Dillon Alexander, 104; Tanner Vaughn, 105; John Baca, 115; Adam Sayer, 125.