Published: 1:00 pm, Tue. May. 3rd, 2016Updated: 3:43 pm
The Bulldog and Lady Bulldog golf teams hit the course Monday at the Lovington Country Club on a mission. And they let nothing – not even putts with minds of their own – stand in their way.
Artesia High School swept the 2016 District 4-AAAAA Tournament both as teams and individually, with Josey Jackson and Chaz Matthews earning top honors for their squads.
Both competitions were rife with their fair share of drama, as the Lady Bulldogs edged out Goddard in a one-hole playoff for the title, while Matthews came out on top of a playoff for the individual medal with teammate Jake Craft.
“We went up there, and everybody had the goal in mind of winning district,” boys’ coach Paul Kirkwood said today. “All the kids went out there and really competed well.”
The ‘Dogs shot a solid team 311 on the day, led by Matthews’ and Craft’s rounds of 74. Parker Sanders delivered an 81, Wesley Davis an 82, and Giovanni Huitron an 87.
“I was really proud of the way Chaz and Jake played yesterday,” said Kirkwood, “and Parker and Wesley had really good rounds that kind of sealed the deal for the district championship. Giovanni struggled on a couple of holes, but he played pretty steady for us.”
The Lady ‘Dogs, meanwhile, came out of their team round tied at 358 with the Lady Rockets on the legs of Jackson’s 74, Taysea Powell’s 90, which tied her for fifth individually, and rounds of 92, 102 and 103 respectively from Brehnan Davis, Sydni Salmon and Teagan Archer.
That tie didn’t come without a few gnawed fingernails, however.
“Josey Jackson is putting for par on one hole from two feet away,” girls’ coach Dusty Bean related. “The pin is on a very tough, fast part of the green. She hits the ball, it lips out on the low side, goes about a foot up the hill, and rolls back down into the hole.
“There were so many things yesterday that were like, ‘If this or that doesn’t happen, we wouldn’t be in the playoff.’”
But the playoff was attained, and it went forward with 10 girls – five from Artesia, five from Goddard – playing a single hole, with the high score dropped. The Lady Bulldogs finished with a 20, the Lady Rockets a 22.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” said Bean. “I don’t believe we played our best golf yesterday. Josey Jackson did a great job, but as a team, I don’t feel like we played our best. We struggled, and we didn’t get some things to go our way during regular play. But we played good enough to get in the playoff, and during the playoff hole, we played spectacular.
“They did everything we’ve been preaching – hitting fairways, hitting greens. There’s a lateral water hazard on the hole we played, and we had one water ball off the tee and Goddard had three. Everything we’ve been trying to get across paid off so much in the playoff, and the girls were just focused and ready to go.”
With their D4 hardware in hand, the Artesia teams are now turning their sights to the ultimate prize: the Class 5A State Tournament.
State action is set for May 9-10 at Pinon Hills in Farmington, and the AHS golfers will hold a sendoff prior to their 3 p.m. departure Friday from the Artesia Country Club. Between now and then, as well as during practice sessions Saturday and Sunday at Pinon Hills, they’ll work to put the finishing touches on two excellent regular seasons’ worth of competition.
“The next couple of days, we’re just going to focus on getting our short game in order, our 100-yard shots in order, and on hitting the fairways in practice,” said Kirkwood.
“District is over now, the regular season is over,” said Bean. “Now we can start looking at what we’re here to do. And that’s to bring home the blue.”