ALBUQUERQUE – It’s a cliché, but seriously. What a difference a day makes.
After a team score of 434 placed them in fifth place on the first day of the Class 4A/1A State tournament at the Canyon Club, Ruidoso’s girls golf team shaved off a whopping 34 strokes on day two, May 8, to leapfrog Texico and Socorro to secure the third place trophy with a two-day score of 834.
Ruidoso was just four strokes better than Socorro in fourth place.
“It was nerves. The girls didn’t have as many nerves,” said Ruidoso coach Melissa Nanz. “They just played better and really, this is how I figured they would play yesterday.”
Pacing the Warriors was Alexandra Michelena, who shot a red-hot two-day score of 158 to easily outdistance the field for the individual State championship.
It was a particularly long week for Michelena, who spent May 2 playing in a noncompetitive pro-am round of golf with a professional at the the Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas, as part of the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout LPGA tournament.
She also watched some of the competitive tournament before the family loaded up and drove to Albuquerque in time for the practice round at the Canyon Club on Sunday.
It seems to all have been worth it.
“I had it in my head that I wanted to win, and when I saw the scores after the first day, I felt really good,” Michelena said. “I was a little shaky on that last hole, a little nervous, but I was able to get out of the bunker and to the green. Not as close as I wanted, but I was there.”
After getting onto the green on the last hole at nine, Michelena was able to nail a 15-foot putt for the par.
Michelena shot two strokes better than she did the day before, and was 13 strokes ahead of St. Michael’s Carisa Padilla in second place.
She wasn’t the only one that improved on day two. Every Warrior did.
That included a 10-stroke improvement by Hope Misquez and a huge 17-stroke difference for Regan Jameson.
“The girls played their best and never gave up, which is what I always want them to do,” Nanz said. “We got better scores, which is what is important.”
Log jam at the top
Jake Butkiewicz was the only Ruidoso boy to make the trip to Albuquerque for the State tournament, and he had to make his way through a crowded field at the top of the standings after day 1.
Josh Fambro, Taos, Jacob Lucero of Hope Christian and Cottonwood Classical’s Alexander Moores were all tied at 78 for a three-way tie for first, while Butkiewicz was in third just two shots back at 80.
The next day, Butkiewicz shot a stroke better and was still in third place, but only Fambro and Lucero were ahead of him.
“Both days he played really well,” said Ruidoso coach Jason Kampsky of Butkiewicz’s play. “Both days, he hit 14 out of 18 fairways, but what got him and everyone was how fast these greens are.”
Butkiewicz benefitted from seeing the course outside of tournament play last summer.
“I saw some of the doglegs pretty well, shot some of the trees with my range finder,” Butkiewicz said. “I did a little math and got to see where I had to hit it off the tee. That helped.
“I could have played a lot better, but knowing those guys were ahead of me was a challenge, and I like that,” he concluded.
“No matter how he finished in the standings, he played two really good rounds of golf,” Kampsky said.