By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
Portales senior golfer Jefferson Powers didn’t hesitate when asked how the Rams would do this season.
“We’re going to win state,” Powers said.
The Ram golfers nearly hit that mark last year, claiming runner-up status to Socorro.
According to Portales boys coach Patrick Crowley, the Rams course management cost them the state championship last season, something he says won’t happen again.
“Course management got us pretty good (in the state championship). But I feel secure in taking those kids back to Socorro, and we’ll manage that golf course a lot better,” Crowley said.
“We have a better chance this year because we have more experience,” Powers said. “We were kind of nervous last year and that kind of hurt us.”
In fact, the Rams revisited the site of last year’s state championship in a preseason scrimmage on March 5 — right around the same time that the unofficial state coaches poll tabbed the Portales boys as the No. 1 team in the state.
The Rams posted the best small school score of 336 at Socorro.
“We were an extremely young team last year, and the bulk of it returned,” Crowley said. “The kids are excited about being ranked number one,” Crowley said. “Our motto this year is, ‘They’re not going to hand it to us.’”
All but one of the Rams top five are returning. Senior Garrett Hatch didn’t play on last year’s squad, but Powers returns, along with sophomores William Archibeque, Rick Bergman and Donavin Sanchez.
As the only returning senior, Crowley says Powers is a good role model for his trio of sophomores.
“(Powers’) not real loud and vocal,” Crowley said. “If you look at the kid on the golf course, he’s determined and that’s starting to bleed into the younger guys.”
Crowley and Powers agree that the strength of the Portales Ram golf squad is their short game.
“From a hundred yards in, we’re going to be the best there is,” Crowley said. “The conditions, the weather, they don’t bother us near as much as they would other teams, but the short game is where we spend the majority of our practices.”
“(Our short game) has improved a lot,” Powers said. “He makes us chip and putt every day for about an hour (during practice).”
The Lady Ram golfers, led by seniors Tori Teague and Lindsay Woodward, are also trying to get up to speed. Portales girls coach Brenda Gomez is finally catching up with the team after the end of the basketball season.
The Rams travel to their first tournament in Clovis Monday, before heading to Artesia on April 2.
“We’ve been there, we’ve done that. We haven’t won it all, but we know what it takes to get there and what it takes to win it,” Crowley said. “They want a state championship more than anything.”