Success during a high school golf season usually comes down to who plays their best at the right time.
In her fourth season as Kamiakin’s top dog, senior Alexa Clark seems to have figured out how to peak at the right time.
Clark — who finished third at the past two Class 3A state tournaments — has claimed two runaway victories in nonconference tournaments in the past week, winning by four strokes with a 2-over 74 at the Canyon Lakes Invite on Monday, and claiming a nine-shot win with a 4-under 67 on Friday at the Eleen Northcutt Invite at Wandermere in Spokane.
Despite blowing out the competition in tournaments comprising some of the region’s top golfers, Clark said she still has another gear she’s hoping to find for the postseason.
“I’m playing pretty good,” she said. “I mean, not as good as I want to, but good enough to shoot good scores and win some tournaments, so I’m pretty happy with how I’m playing right now.”
She hopes her play will be good enough to capture a regular season Mid-Columbia Conference title, a feat she has yet to accomplish despite winning the past two district tournaments. Clark will have to rally to catch Southridge junior Samantha Hui in the final two MCC pods of the season, as Hui holds a 16-point lead through the first four pods.
“Definitely that’s my goal is to win the next two pods,” said Clark, who won the season-opener at Tri-City Country Club and hasn’t finished outside the top three at an MCC event this year. “I haven’t won a league title in these four years, so that’s been a goal of mine. That’d be cool, so I’m really gonna work hard and stay focused over the next two pods.”
Kamiakin girls golf coach Eric Gough said the outlook for Clark’s season continues to improve as the postseason approaches.
“As the season’s gone on, she’s gotten more confident in her game, and I think winning a tournament or two like she has and playing well is nothing but good for her,” Gough said.
While winning the MCC for the first time and earning a three-peat as the district champ are her immediate goals, Clark said her top priority is to finish the season with a win at the state championships, which will be held May 23-24 at Canyon Lakes.
She’ll have to be at the top of her game to make that dream a reality, as the 3A classification has been brutally tough the past four years. The 2015 champion, Ingraham’s Sarah Rhee, is now a major contributor in her sophomore season at the University of Washington, and the reigning champ, Central Kitsap’s Brittany Kwon, won last year’s tournament as a freshman.
If Clark is able to outlast the top contenders from the west side of the state, her toughest competition might come from Hui; a potential shootout looming on the home course of both players. Their next showdown will be Thursday in the fifth MCC pod at Columbia Point.
Clark has signed to play for Eastern Washington University next season.
TEAM RACE TIGHTENING
Paced by Clark’s spectacular performances, the Braves have logged runner-up finishes in the team standings at the past two state tournaments, and looked to be well on their way to an MCC title this year when they swept the first two events. But the plot thickened when Walla Walla took the last two pods, at Walla Walla Country Club and Horn Rapids, to even the season standings heading into the final two league dates.
Further illustrating the depth of competition in the MCC, third-place Richland has yet to finish more than 14 strokes off the pace at a pod this season.
“We put that out there with the girls at the beginning of the season that that’s our goal (to win a league title). We knew competition would be tough because Walla Walla and Richland are right there as well,” Gough said. “It takes four good rounds on any given day, and if one of them isn’t up to par, it hurts you ... we’re fortunate with Alexa to have a top-end score every week.”
After Thursday’s pod at Columbia Point, the regular season will conclude May 4 at Sun Willows.