Girls Warriors golf still at top of the game

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The Socorro High School Class 3A girls golf team has long been considered among the elite teams in the state in all classes.

Last year the team tied the state record by winning its 17th championship. Now, having won the last six state titles in a row, they seem likely to win again this year and break the state record for girls — and boys — with 18 championships. On Monday and Tuesday the boys and girls teams played in the Ruidoso Invitational.

The Socorro Warriors will host this year's state tournament.

"I think it's important for everybody to come out and support the A through AAA state tournament because it's here this year, May 12th, 13th and 14th," Socorro girls golf coach Margaret Stanley Gonzales said. "That falls on a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday".

Stanley Gonzales is in her 12th year coaching the girls team. As it turns out, Stanley Gonzales is hard wired to the genesis of the program as a player and as a coach.

"In the late '60s and early '70s when Carl and Georgia Seery started golf in Socorro, it became a super strong program and kids all over Socorro wanted to play golf," Stanley Gonzales said. "I was on the high school team back then when it was a four-year thing, My dad (Dr. Dennis Stanley, known as Doc Stanley) was the coach and he won four straight championships himself."

A few weeks back the Socorro girls won their own tournament, the Seery Invitational.

Stanley Gonzales also credits the city of Socorro for sponsoring a summer program for school children. She said she was especially proud that her team had won their home sponsored tournament, the Seery Tournament.

"This one means a lot to us because of Mrs. Seery," Stanley Gonzales said. "The Seerys started the golf programs in Socorro. She (Georgia Seery) was my coach as well. It means a lot to us. It means a lot to the girls. It means a lot to me."

In the Seery Tournament, Shania Berger shot 71, two under; Kristen Cline shot 77, 4 over; Mia Salome shot 84; Chynna Pearson shot 96 and Mirjana Gacanich rounded off the top five with a 116. Alamogordo, a 5A school, was closest to Socorro. The Socorro girls played against 4A and 5A schools and won by 88 shots.

"When I taught at Saracino Middle School I started pushing golf and getting it going," Stanley Gonzales said. "This is the first year, in fact, that we haven't had a middle school program. We've always had a good turnout of girls. We won 17 championships since back in '73. I had three (championships) as a player, and now as a coach I've had six in a row."

Stanley Gonzales went on to play or New Mexico State. She's had three girls who have gone on to play collegiate golf: Marlene Rosset, a French exchange student, played for New Mexico State for one year; Kayla Cline went on to play for Winthrop, a Division 1 college in South Carolina; and Kala Raymond presently plays for Western New Mexico College. Now Kristin Cline, Kayla's younger sister, has already signed with New Mexico State.

This year the Socorro girls have played in five tournaments and won every one of them. They played the Leroy Gooch Invitational two-day tournament in Ruidoso. They defeated Deming, a Class 4A school, by four shots. Stanley Gonzales said Deming is their closest competitor in the state. Fifteen teams competed, including classes 4A and 5A.

Socorro has the best in the state; Shania Berger and Kristin Cline are ranked the number one and two girls in the state in all classes.

"Right now I've got three very good players, actually four right now, that are vying for only two spots," Stanley Gonzales said. "My number one, two and three are pretty much set. The girls are chosen by stroke average."

The team has already beaten the better 4A and 5A teams in the state. They went to Roswell on Monday and Tuesday and played the same teams they played in Ruidoso and won the tournament there too.

Georgia Seery spoke of the tournament named for her and her husband after the Socorro girls won the Seery Tournament in Socorro.

"Way back in the '60s, Carl and some of his buddies in Albuquerque started the boys tournaments," Georgia Seery said. "Nancy Romero was a good golfer. She played in the summer and competed wherever she could, and she wanted a high school golf program for the girls so Carl finally talked his buddies into starting a girls team in Albuquerque. He was already coaching the boys team and he was told he couldn't coach two teams, and he wouldn't give up the boys team so I had to do it. He retired in '78. He passed away in '79. Nancy Romero got a scholarship to play golf at UNM.

"The reason we continued to win most of our state championships is because we had a good summer program, and that was conducted by the professionals at New Mexico Tech. When Jimmy Russell came they started a summer program for the students. They played within the Sun Country Golf Association and they finally had a state tournament for them. And the rest is, 'Come down and try to beat us,'"

On Monday, Socorro hosted its triple A invitational and the girls won it by 56 strokes over their closest competitor, Lovington. The Lady Warriors placed first through 10th consecutively. Shania Berger shot a 68, Klara Castillo's score was 71, Kristen Cline's score was 73, Mia Salome's score was 78, Lesley Avila shot 84, Kylee Cunningham shot 88, Theresa Chaves shot 92, Sara Whitehead and Lexi Lucero each shot 93, and Talyssa Valencia shot a 94.

The team will play in Deming on Thursday.