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Hornet golf looks to repeat

SALISBURY – The Salisbury girls golf team has survived everything thrown its way the last two seasons, including the unfamiliar.
State championship matches are familiar for the Hornets as is the case for the 1A/2A state championship match, which begins today.
The setting, Firefox golf club in Pinehurst, is new to a Hornet squad that dominated the rest of the field at nearby Longleaf Golf Club last year to win a title.
The elements will cloud Salisbury’s attempt to win back-to-back state crowns, something it did in 2005-2006. Coach Dale Snyder is leery of the “Frankenstorm” scheduled that the sandhills could feel the effects of. Tuesday’s weather called for a 60 percent chance of rain and blustery winds of up to 20 miles per hour according to weather.com. The high temperature was 55 degrees.
“We may be cold and wet but we’ll play,” Salisbury coach Dale Snyder said. “After coming off a gorgeous week like this, that’s really not what we’re looking forward to. Everybody has to play the same course so it shouldn’t factor in. It’ll just make it a longer day.”
The Hornets have handled the unknown before. In the Central region final at Pilot Knob Park, they battled the hilly terrain and unforgiving greens to win by 15 strokes.
Sophomore Isabella Rusher back showed the state her capabilities last year when she was the medalist as a freshman. Rusher had the lowest score at the county championship earlier this month at Corbin Hills and was second at the regional.
“I have more to lose than I did last year,” Rusher said. “A lot of people expect me to do well.”
Last season, Salisbury carried a 20-shot lead into the second round and won by 33 strokes. The Hornets lost Lily Yatawara from last year, but her sister Grace, a freshman, has softened the blow with a 39 average this year and playing at No. 2. Grace and Rusher were teammates at Salisbury Academy and the younger Yatawara was on hand last year to see her big sister help win a title. This year, she hopes to provide Lily the same joy.
“I was hoping that I could almost replace her,” Grace said. “It was easy coming in because I already knew these girls.”
Grace is the only Hornet who’s played at Firefox where the teams played a practice round Sunday.
Madeline Hoskins, who was part of the golf and tennis title teams last year, is attempting to pull off both in one week again. Hoskins has a 42 average this year and was all-county. Senior Brooke Smith qualified for the state match last week as well, giving the Hornets a chance to put four solid scores up both days.
“Broke qualifying helps us a lot because if something happens with one of the top three girls, we’ve got a score,” Snyder said.
Elkin’s Mary Francis Hall was the medalist at the 1A/2A Central Regional and Elkin should be a formidable foe. From the east, Pittsboro Northwood is bringing five golfers as is Croatan.
It would be nice for Snyder, who’s son Alex turns five Tuesday, to eat some birthday cake in the bask of a championship plaque.
“We’re going to bundle up and we’re going to go and do the best we can,” Snyder said.

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