While the Belen High School golfers were idle, the Los Lunas High School golf team was busy for two days in Ruidoso at one of the biggest high school tournaments in New Mexico, other than the state tourney.

Los Lunas played in the Leroy Gooch Invitational on Monday and Tuesday against some of the top 18 Class 4A and 5A teams in the state. The Tiger boys finished the tournament in 12th place with a team total of 673 β€” 343 on the first day and 330 on the second.

Tiger head coach Steve Clemenson was satisfied with his team’s showing.

“The team played really well, and there were a lot of tough teams out there,” he said. “They finally turned the corner and played to their potential.”

Los Lunas’ No. 1 golfer, A.J. Smith, qualified for the state tournament, completing his third qualifying leg. Smith shot an 80 on the first day of the tournament and a 78 the second day, despite windy conditions.

Also qualifying a leg was freshman Zach Gallegos. Gallegos shot an opening round 86 but, like Smith, shot better on the second day, finishing his second loop with a 79. With one leg down, Gallegos has just two tournaments left to qualify his second and third legs and qualify for the state tournament.

Clemenson also brought up eighth-grader J.D. Wright for the tourney. The youngster shot a first-round 97 and an 86 in the second day.

“In the second day, we climbed the leader board,” Clemenson said. “We are a young team, and people are finally starting to take notice.”

The boys weren’t the only ones who shot better in the winds of the second day. The Lady Tigers ended up in 18th place, but played well, Clemenson said.

“The girls shot their best round of the year on Monday, and then they came out and did even better on the second day,” the coach said. “Their numbers are definitely going down.”

On Monday, the Lady Tigers shot their lowest round of the season β€” 461. Isabel Archuleta led Los Lunas with a 95.

On Tuesday, Archuleta shot a 93, and her team followed, carding a 442.

Though this season is not yet over, Clemenson is looking to the future every day.

“The next three years are going to be good for both teams,” he said. “We are starting to get recognized.”

Eagle golf–The Belen High School golf teams have not played a tournament since April 10 in Truth or Consequences.

Up until now, Jamie Pacheco is the only Belen golfer to have made progress toward qualifying for state. Pacheco picked up her second qualifying leg on April 10 at the Hot Springs tournament. She is only one leg away from qualifying, with one tournament left.

“We still have the district tournament left, and we had a chance to see most of the district at the Hot Springs tournament,” Eagle head coach David Medina said. “I think we can compete with any team in the district.”

In his first year as the golf coach at Belen, Medina is pleased with the team’s overall performance.

“It’s been a good year,” he said. “We’ve been competitive, and we have some young players who should make us competitive in the future.”

The District 3-4A tournament will be held on Monday, April 29, in Deming.

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Tony McClary