By Arnie Leshin
The St. Michael’s girl’s golf team is short one more official player and will fall short of a third-straight state championship, but junior Clarisa Padilla is favored to claim her second-straight individual title when the girl’s state 1A-3A tournament is played May 10-11 in Hobbs.
As a two-year starter on the basketball team, Padilla has been the back-to-back leading scorer for the Lady Horsemen.
Now she hopes to add a second state title alongside the one she won while an 8th-grader in 2017. In her other appearance at state, she placed fourth, and winning this time would bring the program coached by her mom, Robin, a second state champion, the other being the former Alyssa Otero in 2003 and 2005.
But as a team seeking its fifth state title, it probably won’t qualify in the team scoring. Four players are required by the New Mexico Activities Association or a team can qualify by winning district while also putting together a team qualifying score of the course rating, plus 130 strokes.
But without a fourth player, that won’t work either. So it figures to be Padilla, senior Miquela Martinez and junior Alyssa Torres. Miquela is Robin’s youngest daughter, and the older one, Jonelle, won state in 2006 when her mother was first coaching at St. Michael’s.
Meanwhile, Padilla has consistently posted the lowest scores all season, and that includes the only sub-par round of anyone in the small-school ranks.
The Horsemen and Lady Horsemen have won 13 individual championshipa, the first by boy’s head coach Lee Sanchez in 1976 and followed with another one the next season. He coached four state championship teams, and in 2008, won 33 matches, the second-best overall by one triumph.
The second St. Michael’s individual winner was Jay Shanez in 1979. Then came the Horsemen’s Brandon Putnam in 2005, followed by Paul Otte III of Santa Fe Prep in 2007, Colin Pratt of Desert Academy in 2008, Lee’s son, Marty, in 2010, and his teammate, Zach Berhost in 2012.