WENDELL — On March 17, 2009, the Wingate University women’s golf team won the Chick-fil-A Intercollegiate held at the Lake Hickory Country Club in Hickory.
The Lady Bulldogs pulled off a team win at the Pinehurst Challenge on March 19 this year – their first in over four years.
Wendell native and former Knightdale golfer Ashley Denton was a sophomore four years ago, finishing eighth overall in the Chick-fil-A tournament to help lead her team to the victory. Serving as an assistant coach for her first full season this year, Denton is once again invigorating Wingate women’s golf on the sidelines rather than on the links.
“Coaching this team has been very rewarding,” Denton said. “I kind of wanted to give back what I felt the team had been missing, and this seemed like the best way to do it. Throughout the year, the girls have been working hard and this was just the perfect time for us to get a big win.”
The tournament was considered a home tournament for the Bulldogs, who had not finished higher than fourth prior to the win. But what happened a week later showed individual excellence from another Wingate golfer and former Knight – Brian Denton, Ashley’s younger brother.
A senior on the men’s team, Brian Denton shot even par and led wire-to-wire to earn medalist honors in the J. Ralph Hargett Memorial Intercollegiate at Old Sycamore Golf Plantation in Charlotte on March 26 – exactly a week to the date of the women’s team claiming a win.
Though the younger brother has experienced success in the past, winning a title and earning All-SAC first team honors during his junior campaign, he admitted that the sibling rivalry may have helped him earn medalist honors for the second time in his career.
“We definitely want to beat each other at just about everything, especially golf,” Brian Denton said. “But for both of us to win awards in the same week is really special. There’s really nothing better than that.”
Following the Wingate women’s team victory, Ashley Denton had to fulfill a promise she made to her team prior to the tournament. She told her players that if they won, she would jump into the pond at Pinehurst to celebrate.
After high-fiving every member of the team and coaching staff, she leapt from the grass directly into the piercing pond. While his sister jumped in the week prior, Brian Denton declined the chance to match her as the temperature had dropped from a high of 68 degrees to 49 degrees.
Despite jokingly egging her brother on to follow her lead, Ashley Denton admitted that if the roles were reversed she would have stayed dry.
“We talked about that a little bit, but it was super, super cold,” she said with a laugh. “So, honestly if he would have jumped in he might have frozen over. But I’m sure if it would have been possible he would have taken that dive.”
With both siblings eyeing a chance to head to the NCAA Tournament and continue their respective seasons, Brian Denton is hopeful that he can have another chance to trump his sister with a dive of his own.
“I think we can have a good showing to finish off the season,” he said of his team. “We always joke around at practice that if we win, we’re all jumping into the pond – coaches and everybody.”