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(Courtesy Photo)

It’s official – the Bulldog golf team is headed to state.

The Artesia boys finally nailed down their elusive third and final Class 5A State Tournament leg Friday at the NMMI Golf Course in Roswell, overcoming the windy conditions to shoot a team 325, three under the necessary mark.

“None of us really started well,” head coach Dusty Bean said of the Bulldog golfers. “We were just having some bad holes, but then probably about the fifth hole, everybody started calming down and getting used to the wind – because the wind was blowing like crazy on Friday.

“NMMI isn’t a tough course, but at the same time, when you know you need your third leg and everybody is pressing to get that, the wind doesn’t make it any easier.”

The ‘Dogs saw a rally from Wesley Davis in the tournament, who overcame a slow start to finish with an individual qualifying round of 75. Parker Sanders also qualified a leg individually with a 78, followed by Canon Carter and Clay Houghtaling (86), and Hector Flores (94).

“Wesley Davis played amazing,” Bean said. “In his last couple of holes, he eagled one and birdied two to get back even, so he was the anchor for us Friday. Then Parker shoots a 78, and Canon was able to bring it back from a bad start to shoot an 86. Clay stayed pretty steady all day, and Hector struggled, but that happens, and we know he’s still solid and will be ready when we need him.”

The Bulldogs, who finished fourth overall in the tournament behind Clovis, Hobbs and Portales, had the top round among 5A teams at NMMI and an identical team score to the Lady Bulldogs.

The Artesia girls’ 325 was a qualifying score by 77 strokes, as the Lady Bulldogs won the tournament by 37 shots over second-place Clovis.

Brehnan Davis stepped up to lead the squad with a round of 75 Friday, followed by Josey Jackson (77), Taysea Powell (83), Brile Ybarra (90) and Christa Bratcher (98). The top four also posted qualifying individual rounds.

“Brehnan Davis is just back with a vengeance,” Bean said. “She’s got all the rust off. I honestly don’t believe that 325 was the best round those girls could have shot, even with the wind. I think they have a 310 in them, somewhere around that, and hopefully they’ll save it for state.”

The golfers will get another taste of the host course of this year’s 5A state event – Rockwind Community Links in Hobbs – Monday, and Bean says his athletes are excited to test themselves against some qualify 5A competition.

“They’re calling this the 5A preview,” said the coach. “Los Lunas will be there, Los Alamos. Last time we played it, we didn’t have our full team, so we’re looking forward to a better showing.

“We still haven’t hit the mark yet, boys or girls, but we’re getting there. And again – when we want to be playing our best golf is in two weeks.”