With 2016 Class 4A state champ Jalayne Martinez graduating from Pasco last year, this season was destined to be a two-horse race for the title of top girls player in the Mid-Columbia Conference.
For dominating the local competition all season, Hui is the Herald’s All-Area Girls Golfer of the Year.
Despite holding a pretty strong grip over the conference through the six-tournament season — three first-place, two second-place finishes — Hui’s path to defending the MCC crown was a tough one. Eastern Washington University-bound Clark was right on her heels the whole way, as the Kamiakin star actually had a — barely — lower scoring average than Hui during the conference season (75.2-75.3).
“It was definitely one of my goals to get (MCC Player of the Year) again this year, and having Alexa there really pushed me to practice harder to try to accomplish that,” Hui said.
Hui followed up her regular season success with rounds of 74 and 78 — a lot of wind on the second day — to finish third in the state tournament at Canyon Lakes, putting her back around her freshman postseason form when she took fourth at Horn Rapids.
She’s hoping for even bigger things to close out her high school career next year.
“I’m proud of it, for sure,” Hui said of the third-place finish. “I realized there actually was a chance for me to take second, or even first, somewhere in that second round, so I wish I would have pushed a little bit harder maybe for that. But I’m still really proud of getting third place, it’s a big accomplishment.”
If she does capture that elusive state title, she’ll have to overtake Central Kitstap sophomore Brittany Kwon — who has won the past two state tournaments.
For now, Hui is focused on what she hopes will be a productive summer, as colleges scout the area’s top underclassmen, trying to put together their teams for 2018 and beyond.
“This is a really important year for her, this junior year,” Southridge coach Spencer Reiboldt said. “All these colleges are wrapping up now, and they’re out on trail looking for the next golfers coming through.”
Hui’s biggest opportunities to improve her recruiting portfolio are coming up quick with the USGA Jr. Amateur Qualifier beginning Monday at Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent, and the IMG Academy Junior World Qualifier taking place June 23-24 at Tumwater Valley.
KAMIAKIN’S ROSE WINS COACH OF THE YEAR HONORS
With the Kamiakin’s girls team winning the MCC championship and placing at state, Eric Gough (girls) is the All-Area Girls Coach of the Year.
Although Clark (All-Area first team, sixth at state) was the clear No. 1 for the Braves girls squad, senior Ashley Fullmer (second team, tied for 30th), junior Grace Wilbur (second team, missed cut at state) and sophomore Torey Getz (honorable mention, missed cut) were key contributors for the team that finished sixth at the state tournament.
2017 TRI-CITY HERALD ALL-AREA GIRLS GOLF TEAM
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Samantha Hui, Southridge
COACH OF THE YEAR: Eric Gough, Kamiakin
FIRST TEAM: Samantha Hui, jr., Southridge; Alexa Clark, sr., Kamiakin; Macy Robertson, jr., Richland; Brooke Cramer, sr., Walla Walla; Breanna Watts, sr., Richland; Maylie Martinez, so., Pasco.
SECOND TEAM: Allison Wanichek, so., Walla Walla; Michaela Morris, jr., Walla Walla; Ashley Fullmer, sr., Kamiakin; Janae Martinez, fr., Pasco; Grace Wilbur, jr., Kamiakin; Kali Saueressig, jr., Chiawana.
HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Getz, so., Kamiakin; Amanda Brunson, sr., Southridge; Madison Darnold, so., Walla Walla; Allie Parnell, Richland; Hannah Oldson jr., Richland; Ally Moore, jr., Tri-Cities Prep.