Adding talent is necessary to stay competitive in college athletics, so it’s no surprise to see SIU’s womens golf team actively recruiting prospective talent.
This fall will highlight incoming players Kris Grimes, Brooke Cusumano and Kristie Yang.
Grimes is the first African- American golfer in SIU history, but she said she is no stranger to breaking racial barriers.
“It kind of shocked me at first,” Grimes said. “Then again I was the first one at my community college as well. It’s an honor to be the first. I hope I can do it some justice.”
Grimes was a two-time All- American at College of the Canyons. She had a career 75.8 scoring average in her junior college career and won the California Junior State Championship as a freshman.
“I think she is going to be very successful,” coach Alexis Mihelich said. “She hits a long-way off the tee and hits it hard. She is really strong, cuts it underneath the wind on her tees. And she loves to putt. Combine the length and putting and she is going to be a player who can score really well.”
Yang is a four-time All-American
from Diamond Bar High School, where she was the captain for two of her four high school years.
Coach Mihelich has been successful in recruiting from the sunshine state, as Grimes, Yang, and current SIU freshman Amy Lee are all recruits from the state.
“California is the strongest state with junior golf,” coach Mihelich said. “Geographically they get to play all year round. They have a little more experience than the Midwestern players because (midwest players) have to take three or four months off, so the level of development is more refined. So it only makes sense for me to recruit out of California.”
Cusumano, the third golf team fall recruit, won two consecutive state titles in her final years of high school. She also was named an All- Metro Girls Player of the Year.
“I’m really excited. I feel like we have a chance to win conference,” junior golfer Cassie Rushing said. “I really think we are getting some
great transfers coming in who will transfer their skills from their high school play.”
SIU is no stranger to recruiting strong high school talent. Twin sisters Cassie and Ashleigh Rushing are highly awarded local talent out of Marion High School. Cassie was All-conference and named MVP for all four years in high school and continued her success at SIU as she led the Salukis in scoring average for back-to-back seasons.
Ashleigh holds the Marion High School record for 9 holes, scoring a 30 on a par 36. She also has National Golf Coaches Association. Academic All-American awards for 08-09 and 10-11 seasons. Both sisters made the deans list in fall 2011.
The Salukis resume play Mar. 11 at the Jackrabbit Invitational in Primm, Nevada.