RUIDOSO – Coming into this year’s District 4-4A/1A golf tournament, May 1, the pressure was off for the Ruidoso boys and girls teams.
Both had already qualified for the State tournament – the boys just six days before at the New Mexico Military Institute Last Chance Qualifier – and they were playing this tournament on their home course at the Links at Sierra Blanca.
While the Ruidoso girls earned a district title – and Lexi Lucero took first individually – the day wasn’t as kind to the rest of the Warrior squad.
The boys were hard pressed to keep up with Portales, a team that looks likely to challenge for a State 4A/1A title at Farmington next week after posting a 309 score to win the championship.
But eighth grader Jake Butkiewicz shot an 82 to lead his team, and with most of the State tournament field represented on Monday, he thinks the Warriors just might turn some heads at Pinon Hills.
If they can stay calm, that is.
“I feel like there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the team,” Butkiewicz said. “Everyone will feel a little shaky, it’s just about how you execute the nerves. I’m expecting some low numbers and possibly some high numbers.”
Ruidoso coach Jason Kampsky feels the same way about his teams chances at State, believing they’ll bring home some sort of trophy.
“It was hard to figure out what the deal was with us today, with the slow start and getting going,” Kampsky said. “I know there was some pressure there because this is district, and three of the four teams that have already qualified for State are out of our district.
“We can play better than Hope Christian and sneak out a third place, if not second, at State,” he added. “There’s no reason we can’t bring home a trophy.”
For the girls, it’s a State title on their minds. The only team at Farmington that wasn’t in Ruidoso on Monday is Silver, and Lucero is confident in her team’s ability.
“We’ve worked hard on this all year as a team,” said Lucero, whose score of 80 was the only score in the 80s, and 13 strokes better than Hope Christian’s Brooke Sturtevant. “We built this team from the ground up and everyone has come a long ways.
“I think we’ll do good at State, we have a decent chance,” she added.
Coach Melissa Lucero pointed out that Silver might be a challenge, but she looks forward to seeing how her girls will do playing on the same greens as the Lady Colts of Silver.
“We’ll all be playing together, I hope,” said coach Lucero. “That way, we can all keep track of where we need to be while playing them. They all just need to bring their A game.”