Jacob Lucero’s four-foot putt for birdie on the par-4, 435-yard 18th appeared on line and set to drop.
But like so many other putts on the day for the Hope Christian sophomore, the ball lipped out and away.
It left the Huskies one stroke behind Portales for the Class 1A-4A boys state golf championship Tuesday at The Canyon Club in Albuquerque in what has developed into an eerie rivalry. A year ago the teams tied for the the state title after rain washed away the second round in Farmington.
This year, the teams were tied after Monday’s first round, and on Tuesday it came down to one putt going awry.
“We knew it was going to come down to one or two strokes,” said Hope coach Bill Huntsman.
Lucero, who finished with a 78-77—155, was the individual runner-up, three strokes behind Josh Fambro of Taos.
“The ball striking was better than (Monday), but where I kind of struggled, I definitely had a lot of birdie putts that could have dropped,” Lucero said. “It was frustrating, but during the round, you can’t let it get to you. You just have to keep the grind going throughout the day and hope you drop a few putts. I’m a little disappointed but Josh played two great days. You can’t do anything about that.”
Fambro went 78-74—152 but said he probably played better Monday.
“It was a grind (Tuesday),” he said. “I really didn’t have my best stuff but I still managed to put up a good score.”
- The St. Michael’s girls pulled off a repeat, coming from 10 strokes down Monday to finish with a 7-stroke victory over Hope Christian.
“It kind of justifies last year’s round because I think a lot of people doubted that we would come back on the second day and maintain that lead,” Horsemen coach Robin Martinez said.
The real difference, said Huskies coach Jon Lehman, was experience.
“St. Michael’s has seniors, and I have two sophomore and two juniors,” he said. “And this is only the second year we’ve run a girls program since 2007. Two of them had never picked up a club before two years ago. To get here in two years speaks volumes about their heart and desire. … St. Michael’s has been in this position and my girls never had. Now they have, they’ve tasted it and now they’re going to be hungry.”
Individually, Ruidoso’s Alexandra Michelena went 87-78—158, riding an 8-stroke first-round lead to a 13-stroke victory over Carissa Padilla of St. Michael’s.
“It’s crazy,” said Michelena, who finished sixth last year. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. At first it seemed crazy but now it’s like, you just have to work for it. I played pretty steady. I did start kind of shaky but then I pulled through and made some birdies. I was dropping putts and that helped a lot.”
Click here for 1A-4A individual and team scores.