By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
The Portales Ram golf team has played the state tournament course in Socorro several times this season. Today, they’ll play it one more time — with a historic state championship on the line.
Sophomore Donavin Sanchez and senior Jefferson Powers led the Rams to a tie with district rival Lovington for first with a team score of 319 in the first round of the Class 3A state golf tournament Monday.
“We didn’t finish the round the way we needed to,” Ram coach Pat Crowley said. “Lovington played well. We knew that they were going to be there, and we figured that they were the competition.”
If Portales bests Lovington and the other four teams in Classes 1A-3A, it will take its first team golf title in school history. Kevin Welch was the individual medalist for Portales in 2004.
Sanchez shot a tournament second best score of 76, behind Santa Fe Prep’s Paul Otte III’s 75. Powers tied for fifth, firing a first-round score of 79.
Crowley liked his squad’s play on and around the green, especially from his senior.
“Jeff did well, he did really well,” Crowley said. “Jefferson did a great job of holding it together … his putter was working today. He did extremely well on the greens and around the greens.”
Portales’ William Archibeque shot an 81, followed by fellow sophomore Rick Bergman’s 83, and senior Garrett Hatch’s 107.
Despite some missteps during Monday’s round, Crowley is optimistic about today’s final round.
“We made some dumb shot selections that cost us. There’s nothing you can do about it except regroup and hit the next one,” Crowley said. “We’re very comfortable (heading into today’s round). It doesn’t change anything weather we’re down by 10 or up by 20 or tied, it doesn’t change our game plan for the golf course.”
Hatch tees off first for the Rams today at 9:10 a.m. Followed by Sanchez, Archibeque, Powers and Bergman.
“Nobody’s going to hand you a state tournament,” Crowley said. “You’ve got to fight and claw for it and I feel very comfortable putting my five guys up against anybody.”
On the girls side, senior Tori Teague was the Lady Rams lone representative, playing the state tournament course for the first time. Teague shot a 103, 11th out of 29 golfers.
“She played well, she played really well for her first time at the state tournament and I think tomorrow will be even better,” Portales coach Brenda Gomez said. “She’s never seen the course, and the state tournament is pretty intimidating if you’ve never been here before.”