LA's teams open at home Monday

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By The Staff

For the fall 2011 season, the Los Alamos Hilltopper boys and girls golf teams are keeping their goals attainable.
With heavy losses to graduation off the 2010-11 teams, Los Alamos will be starting several players with little or no varsity experience.
Los Alamos’ teams start their season Monday when they host the Los Alamos Fall Invitational. Tee-off is set for 9 a.m.
Along with some new starters, the Los Alamos boys team will also be under the direction of a new coach. Mike Lippiatt, who led the Hilltopper girls team last year, also takes over the reins of the boys team.
Lippiatt guided the Hilltopper girls to a fifth-place finish at the 2011 championship. The Hilltoppers struggled with their putting during the tournament and were surpassed in day two for fourth place by the Albuquerque Academy Chargers.
Working with 20 golfers instead of eight or nine has presented its challenges for Lippiatt, but he’s put in a system with he and his two assistant coaches to rotate through the driving range, putting green and chipping green so that they can keep an eye on everyone’s progress.
For Monday’s tournament, Los Alamos will start Tanner Vaughn, Johnny Osden, Raul Roybal, Alexei Appert and Elliot Clay on the boys side. On the girls side, Aislinn McDonald, Emma Haines, Emily Stearns, Briana Sanderson and Faith Koh will get the starting nod.
McDonald is the lone starter returning from the 2011 state tournament squad — the Hilltopper boys only qualified one individual, Thomas Herrera, last year. McDonald had a team-best 94 after one round at state last season.
So far during the preseason, she’s been swinging well. In Los Alamos’ qualifying round this week, McDonald shot a 45 for nine holes, the best mark on either team. Qualifying was scheduled for two days, but Thursday’s round was rained out.
Vaughn had a 46 to lead the boys in qualifying.
With as many young players as Los Alamos has, it is hoping to see improvement over the course of the fall season — which currently includes four tournaments but might add a fifth.
“This tournament, we’re looking for these guys to shoot something respectable for themselves,” Lippiatt said. “For some this will be an introduction to high school competition and for others, they’ll be reintroduced.”
On the boys’ side, Osden is the only fall returner that had much varsity experience last season, although the boys are expecting another starter from the 2010-11 team, Jin Park, to return in the spring.