SOUTHERN PINES – Isabella Rusher and Grace Yatawara are successful year-round players on the junior golf circuit and both are ranked in the top 20 in the N.C. Junior Girls Rankings. So it was no surprise that they were the leaders when Salisbury captured its third consecutive 2-A/1-A state title at Longleaf Golf and Country Club on Oct. 28.
But it takes three scores in girls golf and the Hornets’ number three, Madeline Hoskins, is no slouch either, despite the fact that she doesn’t play much tournament golf and instead focuses on tennis.
Hoskins posted a 78, her best score ever in six state tournament rounds, on opening day and it helped Salisbury fire 233 and open a 34-shot lead over Newport Croatan and Elkin. She followed with 83 and tied for sixth on the individual leaderboard, joining Rusher (75-79, tied for second) and Yatawara (80-79, fifth) in the top 10.
The Hornets added 241 on day two and cruised to a 57-shot margin.
“The key is Madeline,” veteran Salisbury coach Dale Snyder said. “No one in the state can match up with that number three score.”
And, oh by the way, Hoskins won the state 2-A doubles tennis championship the Saturday before the golf tournament started and followed up a few days later by winning her singles match as Salisbury upended previously-undefeated North Carolina Science and Math 5-1 for the state 2-A dual team tennis championship.
“For somebody to win a state championship and also be competing and winning multiple state championships in different sports in the same season is remarkable,” said Rick Strunk, an associate commissioner with the NCHSAA who handles the state record book.
Consider this scenario: On the same day of the Central Regional golf tournament at the Country Club of Salisbury, the Hornets tennis team was scheduled to visit Brevard in the state tennis playoffs. Snyder arranged for Hoskins to have the earliest tee time at the golf course so she could be in her normal position in the tennis line-up at 4 p.m. even though it was three hours away.
“She finished golf and her mom drove her to the tennis match. They caught up with the team bus in Hickory and she rode the rest of the way with the team,” Snyder said.
The win at Brevard was part of Salisbury’s march to its sixth straight dual team state tennis championship.
“She ends her high school career with eight rings,” Snyder said. “It’s unbelievable to even think of that.”
The latest golf title was pretty much a given with the way Salisbury has dominated 2-A/1-A competition over the last three years. The Hornets won states by 33 in 2011, 60 in 2012 and 57 this year.
“I’m really proud of Isabella and Gracie,” Snyder said. “I can’t say enough about how talented they are and how hard they work. This is probably the best tournament I’ve seen us play. We played flawlessly throughout.”
Rusher, who won the state individual title as a freshman and sophomore, settled for a second-place tie with Elkin’s Mary Frances Hall (80-74) this time as Elkin senior Annika Winebarger (74-77) prevailed by three shots.
Yatawara, only a sophomore, finished third last year and fifth this year. In the Central Regional, Yatawara was medalist with 72 and Rusher was runner-up with 76.
With those two players returning, the Hornets could be in the running for four in a row next fall. Shelby Holden, a sophomore, also gained state tournament experience and shot 100-106. She and fellow soph Caroline Parrot will be counted on to make bigger contributions next fall.
In addition to the Salisbury and Elkin contingent, who took five of the top six spots, three other players from Triad-area schools notched top-10 finishes. Madison Moore of East Surry was ninth with 82-83 and Megan Mabe of South Stokes (79-88) and Heather Hancock of Jordan-Matthews (85-82) shared 10th place.