By Arnie Leshin
There are many high school sports that have a limited roster, but get by with a junior varsity program and sometimes a freshmen team.
But St. Michael’s girls golf team is looking for a third consecutive state championship. From back-to-back 1A-4A titles, the Lady Horsemen were relocated into 1A-3A, but they also have a problem in their quest for another state title.
Under head coach Robin Martinez, who retired from the coaching ranks after winning a pair of state championships, welcomed her return to St. Michael’s by adding two more titles. But that’s not a problem, the dilemma can be found in the New Mexico Activities Association rule book regarding the state tournament.
It reads like so, “Each individual member of the team must complete three legs of a qualifying score — defined as the course rating plus 25 strokes on three different courses.’’
“We have three returning players,” said the coach, “and that includes last year’s state runner-up Carissa Padilla, who was the individual state champ in 2017 as an 8th grader. Then there’s my daughter, Miquela, a senior in her fifth year on the team, and junior Alyssa Torres.”
But it doesn’t add up to four, which are the requirements, and the Lady Horsemen came up short in failing to round up that elusive fourth player this season, and time is growing short.
“If we had that fourth, said Coach Martinez, “I think we would make a real good run at state.”
Last season the Lady Horsemen had Padilla’s older sister, Bella, but she graduated. The other member, senior Sydney Halford, also graduated, but despite her inexperience, she contributed to winning state, as did Bella Padilla.
At least they had five players, and a trio falls short of putting together a quintet.
The team has tournaments on the way this coming Monday, the 2-day Hobbs Invitational, six days later, there’s the Robertson Spring Invite, plus the district 2-3A tournament in early May. So a late-arriving Lady Horseman will lack the time needed to collect those legs.
Or, Coach Martinez said, the team can qualify by winning the district tournament while also putting together a team qualifying score of the course rating, plus 130 strokes.
That could be the team’s best shot at gaining entry to the state tournament as a squad, that is, if that fourth player can be found.
Padilla and Martinez have already qualified for state as individuals, and Torres is well on her way according to Coach Martinez.
“We have the ability to win district and have a qualifying score at district,” said the coach, “but we just need Tthat fourth player. We thought we were going to have other girls, others who said they were going to come out, but commitments, schoolwork, who knows.”
She added that they have some younger girls, 7thgraders, but they’re not eligible to play varsity until they’re in 8th grade,
But there’s good news for Padilla and Martinez. Carisa consistency shoots in the 70s, has become one of the state’s top golfers and is starting to draw some interest from colleges.
Miquela is generally in the 80s, but has a different future after signing up in volleyball with Felician University in Rutherford, N.J. She was instrumental in St. Michael’s run this year to the state 3A volleyball championship. And Torres has improved enough to get down to scoring in the 90s.
Miquela’s older sister, Jonelle, is a St. Michael’s graduate, and won the state individual title when her mother was previously the head coach. In fact, her mom won four championships than and now had a total of six. Jonelle was also a top-notch player at Division I University of Wyoming.
The coach with the most girls titles is Becky Robertson, who won state 13 times with Goddard. Next is Margaret Stanley, who coached Socorro to eight championships, but the school had a total of 18.
NOTES: The first girl to win state golf at St. Michael’s was Alyssa Otero in 2003 and 2005, and she later became its head coach. In 2006, it was Jonelle Martinez winning state, In 2009, Jamie Romero, who played under Otero for two seasons, was victorious. And in 2017, young Padilla took first place when a two-day rain storm ended the tournament after one day and St. Michael’s was declared the winner.
Otero had a score of 81-75 for 156 in 2003. In 2006, she totaled 69-74 for 143. Jonelle Martinez scored 78-80-158. Palermo shot 83-83-166. The Lady Horsemen won state the last two years, and won four straight from 2003-06, the last when Jonelle was a senior.