Prep Golf Signing: Salisbury’s Isabella Rusher to Richmond
SALISBURY — While Isabella Rusher’s time as a Salisbury golfer will be remembered for two under-pressure 71s, 192 is the number that will be the Richmond signee’s legacy.
That’s the number of strokes by which Salisbury won the last four 1A-2A state championships in girls golf. Rusher won the individual state championship in 2011 and 2012 and was runner-up in 2013 and 2104. She was a huge factor as the Hornets ran away from state-tournament competition in each of her four seasons.
Salisbury’s championship banners came by margins of 33, 60, 57 and 42 strokes over the silver-medal teams. That’s dominance. If there was a way for the NCHSAA to employ a running clock in golf, the Hornets would’ve mercy-ruled a lot of people.
“Isabella has been the standard-bearer for the program, and she’s the one that kind of catapulted us from good to great,” Salisbury golf coach Dale Snyder said. “She’s incredibly talented, an integral part of our success. She’s had one of the best high school careers that anyone’s ever had at Salisbury High.”
Rusher’s eight rounds on state-championship courses included seven under 80 and five of 75 or better. When she shot a 71 on a cold, windy day on Foxfire’s West Course as a sophomore, it was obvious she was going to be a Division I player. She shot another 71 on the final round of her career on the Red Fox Course at Foxfire, as she tried to catch junior teammate Grace Yatawara last month. She finished two shots back of Yatawara, but that 71 was the best round of the day.
“I had a goal of four individual state championships, but I’m very proud of my high school career,” Rusher said. “We did win four team state championships because I had some great teammates.”
Rusher is from a family of golfers and started playing early and taking lessons early. She loved basketball, but she started spending more of her time on the golf course after she won back-to-back individual middle school state championships when she was at Salisbury Academy.
“I really got into it,” Rusher said.
Rusher had ankle surgery last December but didn’t miss a beat. She was ranked 14th in the state — that’s for all classifications — after her senior season. A great student as well as golfer, she had plenty of college options, but she’s had her eye on Richmond for a while.
Rusher’s swing coach Paul McRae’s wife is the administrator for Richmond’s golf program and used to be the golf coach. McRae has been talking up Richmond for a while for strong academics as well as golf.
Ali Wright was named as Richmond’s new golf coach last summer. After meeting her and touring the school, Rusher gave a verbal commitment.
“She’s a coach that’s going to be your friend, but she’s also someone who’s going to help you get better,” Rusher said. “As far as the school, it just felt right. It’s like it’s a small college town, even though it’s in a big city. I even like the school colors. Navy blue and red are great colors.”
Rusher even likes Richmond’s unusual nickname — the Spiders.
Rusher, who plans to major in business, will know one of her new teammates well. Cannon School’s Annie Collum also signed with Richmond and is one of her best friends.
Rusher is taking a winter break from golf after being part of her last championship run, but when the weather warms up, she’ll be back doing what she does best.
“She’s a smart kid and she’ll do very well in school, and that’s the most important thing,” Snyder said. “Winning championships is great, but ultimately the goal is for athletics to lead to higher education.”