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Eagles soar to Class 5A state golf championship

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On year ago, the Hobbs boys’ golf team missed out on a chance to play the state tournament on their home course, Rock-wind Community Links. Monday, with the 2021 state golf tournament shortened to one day because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eagles took care of business as claimed the Class 5A state championship at Arroyo Del Oso in Albuquerque.

“It was and is such an emotional experience for me, coach (Mike) Mills and the boys, the state championship is a goal every year for us,” Rotunno said. “We were unable to even play last year, at our home course, and to come away with it this year makes it even more special.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic pushing sports late into June, the Eagles golf team was forced to play the state tournament on Rotunno’s 24th anniversary. After the Eagles secured the title, Rotunno found his wife, Tammy, and youngest daughter, Madison, on the course.

“When I knew we had won it, I found (Tammy) and Maddie on the course and just hugged and cried together,” the Eagles’ coach said.

The championship is the second for the Eagles during Victor Rotunno’s tenure as head coach. Hobbs also won the state title in 2012. Overall, it is the seventh state championship for the Eagles. Hobbs previously won the state title in 1957, 1961, 1970, 1987, 1988, and 2012.

“You know you just never know if you are going to get to that mountain top again, and we did, and it’s just so special,” Rotunno said.

Playing against eight other Class 5A teams, the Eagles had the lowest round of the day, turning in a team score of 290 to easily win the state title.

“They came out focused, and ready from the start,” Rotunno said. “They kept their focus on the shot that was in front of them and they were determined to get the job done. These boys are hard workers and very self driven.”

Piedra Vista, the second place team was 11 strokes back of the Eagles, carding a 301. La Cueva was third with a 308 while Deming was fourth, turning in a 313. Cibola placed fifth after shooting a 331.

Rio Rancho, Roswell, Alamogordo, and Los Lunas rounded out the rest of the schools, Rio Rancho finished with a 347 while Roswell was two strokes back with a 349. Alamogordo was two strokes behind the Coyotes with a 351 and Los Lunas was a distant ninth place, finishing 101 strokes behind Hobbs with a 391.

Piedra Vista’s Quinn Yost took individual first place, carding a five-under par 67.

Jacksen Raines also finished under par to lead the Eagles. The Hobbs sophomore shot a 70 to finish second overall. Kelen Owens-by and Seth Lackey each finished with an even-par 72 to tie for fifth. Owensby, a freshman, took fifth while Lackey, a junior, got sixth.

“Jacksen had a couple bad breaks and he was able to shake it off and finish his strong performance,” Rotunno said. “He grew up a lot today, and I told him that. He played so steady and in control today I can’t say how proud of him I am.”

Raines, Owensby, and Lackey all finished the season with All-State honors.

Tripten Roberts finished with a 76 for the Eagles, tying for 10th place while Jake Raines carded a 77, tying for 12th place.

“I am so happy for Jake to finish his senior year with a state championship,” the Eagles’ coach said. “Can’t tell you how much he has gone through this year being injured and always keeping the boys focused on the prize. He reinjured himself a bit today, but he wasn’t going to withdraw from this tournament.”

As for the Lady Eagles, they finished fifth overall with a 379. Piedra Vista won the girls state title with a 328 while La Cueva was second with a 337. Centennial shot a 346 to take third and Las Cruces was fourth, turning in a 352.

“This was all their first state tournament appearance,” Rotunno said. “They really surprised coach Mills and I with how well they performed overall. The experience is invaluable. Now they know what to expect and what needs to be done to get to the next level (trophying) at state.”

The rest of the girls’ state tournament team results were Volcano Vista (383), Clovis (417), Rio Rancho (426), Los Lunas (433), and Santa Fe (460).

Centennial Alex Armendariz finished first overall with a one-under par 71. Shandiin Harper of Piedra Vista and Eleanna Carris of La Cueva were tied for second with a 73 while Brittlynn O’Dell finished fourth, carding a 75, to lead the Lady Eagles.

“She played very steady all day,” Rotunno said of O’Dell. “A few more putts drop for her and she could have been the individual medalist. We were very pleased by her performance. She works extremely hard to be in the position she is in. The future is definitely bright for her.”

O’Dell’s fourth place finish was the best by a Lady Eagle since Madison Rotunno finished fourth in 2019. The By finishing in the top six golfers, O’Dell earned All-State honors.

Hannah Cupples shot a 93 and finished 22nd for Hobbs while Delilah Castillo’s 101 placed her 36th. Sadie Sayre turned in a 110 to place 42nd.

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