Cats settle for third in own invite

Clovis High junior varsity golfer Tim Vernon hits a tee shot during Monday’s Clovis Invitational at Chaparral Country Club. Vernon shot a round of 96. (CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Clovis High’s boys are off to a slower start this season than coach George Simmons had hoped.

The Wildcats finished third among five full teams in their own invitational tournament Monday at Chaparral Country Club. Led by individual medalist Austin Helton’s 80, Artesia took the team title with a score of 343, followed by Portales (346) and Clovis (350).

Hobbs took the girls team title at 379, with Clovis second at 414.

On a damp, blustery morning, Yucca eighth-grader Kyler Hill led the Cats with a score of 39-42 — 81, good for second place individually behind Helton.

“Kyler had a good round,” Simmons said. “You never know what can happen out there. When things are going your way, they’re going your way.”

Hill said it was the second-best round he’s shot in competition, behind an 80 he scored last summer in a Junior Golf tournament.

“I thought it was going to be a terrible day,” Hill said, referring to the weather, “but my short game was on today. I was chipping and putting pretty good.”

Asked when his outlook changed, he grinned: “When I birdied the first hole.”

Hill said he was all right until he started his back nine, where he went 7-over on the first six holes. “I thought I’d do better,” he said.

The Cats’ top player, senior Jordan Moore, put together a solid first nine but staggered through an 8 on the par-3 11th hole. He finished at 38-56 — 94.

“That was definitely unexpected,” Simmons said. “The back nine today ate a lot of people’s lunch. It was pretty tough conditions.”

Junior Brad Props (85) had Clovis’ only other score under 90. Simmons said that with two weeks now before the team’s next outing, the Cats will try to hone in on earning legs to qualify for state competition.

Portales’ top two golfers, freshmen Donavin Sanchez (87) and Will Archibeque (89), struggled at times on Monday. But another freshman, Rick Bergman, picked up the slack for the Rams by shooting 42-41 — 83.

“You really had to compensate for the wind,” Bergman said. “My short game was very good today, and that’s what kept me in it.

“I was pleased with the way I was hitting it.”

Coach Patrick Crowley said Bergman and sophomore Zach Smith (87), Portales’ No. 4 and 5 players, handled the tough conditions well.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster for those two,” said Portales boys coach Patrick Crowley, whose squad numbers only six. “Rick Bergman and Zach Smith played very well. It’s definitely going to be a tight race every time we qualify (five of the six) for tournaments.”

Hobbs’ Brandi Goodwin (91) and Sharilya Pack (92) posted the top two scores in girls competition and led the Lady Eagles to a comfortable victory.

Clovis Christian finished fourth at 474. Senior Mollie Peterson shot 44-52 — 96 for the Lady Eagles, tying Hobbs’ Allie Milles for third medalist.

Junior Tiffany Reid led the Lady Wildcats, finishing 50-49 — 99.

“I’m pleased; I was proud of the girls for gutting it out,” CHS girls coach Jeff Fontanilla said. “It was a tough day out there.
“We didn’t get a leg (toward state), but we still have six more tournaments. Hopefully, by the next tournament the weather will be nicer.”