Volleyball Caps Off Memorable Season With Trip to Seattle for NCAA Elite Eight Appearance

Staff Writer: Caroline Backus and Cody Kelley

The No. 25-ranked Wingate volleyball team traveled across the country
this week to Seattle, making its sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament
national quarterfinals in program history. The Bulldogs, who led the
nation in winning percentage and ranked second in total wins at 32-3,
took on third-seeded West Texas A&M Thursday (Dec. 1) in search of
their first national title, losing a thrilling five-set match to the Buffaloes.


The Bulldogs began postseason play by overpowering six opponents
over the last two weeks. They started their playoff run with the South
Atlantic Conference Tournament, starting at Cuddy Arena with a 3-0
sweep against Limestone. Wingate capped the SAC Tournament off on
the road at the Rock Hill Sports and Event Center in Rock Hill, S.C.,
capturing a 3-1 revenge win over Anderson and dominating Carson-
Newman 3-0 to seize its 13th SAC Tournament title in 17 years.


Wingate then received the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Southeast Regional
Tournament at Cuddy Arena. The Bulldogs defeated USC Aiken 3-1 in
the first round, followed it up with a 3-1 win over Lander in the
semifinals and swept Flagler 3-0 in the championship match, winning by
scores of 25-14, 25-13 and 25-23.


While claiming the SAC Tournament title as well as the NCAA
Southeast Regional title, several Wingate players received individual
awards. The team had five players placed on All-SAC teams. Graduate
student setter Shannon Kasprak received the SAC Player of the Year
Award, while head coach Shelton Collier was nominated as SAC Coach
of the Year.

Kasprak, along with graduate student outside hitter Molly
Lambillotte and freshman middle blocker Emily Johnson, earned first-
team All-SAC honors. Senior outside hitter Maggie Young earned
second-team All-SAC honors and senior libero Maggie Mullen collected third-team accolades. Johnson also earned a spot on the All-Freshman
Team.


Three Bulldogs received All-Region honors as well. Kasprak added
another big honor to her arsenal by being named the Division II
Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) Southeast Region
Player of the Year. Kasprak was also a first-team All-Region selection,
joined by Johnson. Lambillotte picked up second-team All-Region
accolades as well.


Wingate lit up the stat sheet throughout the season, ranking high
nationally in several categories. As of Nov. 19, the team ranked first in
winning percentage (.939), second in opponents’ hitting percentage
(.095), fourth in blocks per set (2.56), fifth in hitting percentage (.283)
and ninth in total blocks (276.5).

Wingate Football set for First-Ever NCAA Quarterfinal Matchup at West Florida

Staff Writer: Samuel Rodriguez

For the first time in program history, Wingate’s football team is three wins
away from a national championship.


The Bulldogs play on the road for the third straight time in the postseason
this Saturday (Dec. 3, 2 p.m.) at West Florida in Pensacola after having
already won a school-record 11 games. They beat Virginia Union and
previously undefeated Benedict in their first two NCAA Tournament games
and have not lost away from home all season.


“It’s exciting and I think the team we have is special,” redshirt senior
fullback Trevor Hausmann said. “We’ll go as far as we let ourselves when it
matters.”


Wingate (11-2) opened the Division II playoffs with a 32-7 victory over
Virginia Union (9-2) in Richmond. Graduate student quarterback Shaw
Crocker completed 14 of 21 passes for 155 yards against the Panthers.
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Myles Dillon caught three passes for 19
yards and a touchdown against VUU. Redshirt sophomore wide receiver
Kamal Desor secured three catches for 79 yards and a score. Redshirt junior
running back Kalen Clark rushed for 74 yards on 11 carries. 


Linebacker Davon Gilmore racked up a team-best four tackles for loss
including two sacks and forced the safety. Thomas returned an interception
for a touchdown and recovered a fumble. Graduate student linebacker
Jaquan Edwards recorded Wingate’s other pick-six.


“We did well this season even with the [home] losses against Emory &
Henry and Newberry,” senior punter Ethan Evans said.


The Bulldogs came back the next Saturday (Nov. 26) to beat the region’s
top-seeded team, Benedict, in Columbia, S.C., using their stifling defense to
suffocate the Tigers’ running game. Wingate held the Southern
Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) champs to 38 rushing yards on
37 carries in a 23-6 rout.

Wingate closed out its regular season with a dominant 45-7 victory at home
over UVA Wise (2-9). It marked the sixth straight season with eight wins
for the Bulldogs. Wingate is 56-16 overall in the last five seasons and 37-10
in league play, leading the South Atlantic Conference in wins during that
time. 


“Defense came out here and set the tone,” redshirt sophomore linebacker
Gilmore said. “The offense stayed true to the game plan and executed it
perfectly.”


Senior wide receiver Trevor Grant had himself a day against the Cavaliers.
Grant hauled in six passes for a career-high 144 yards and two touchdowns.
Grant has compiled 284 receiving yards and four touchdowns throughout
the regular season.


The receiving group is led by redshirt junior wide receiver Myles Dillon
with 31 catches for 381 yards and five touchdowns. Senior wide receiver
Ra’Quan Simmons has 22 receptions for 338 yards and two scores. 
“The guys did what they needed to do today,” defensive coordinator
Rashaan Jordan said. “They went about executing and playing on a high
level throughout the game. It is not perfect, but the plays we made were
solid and, if we get to play next week, we can get better.”


Redshirt senior defensive tackle Sirod Cook has 11 tackles for loss and six
sacks on the year while notching 11 QB hurries. Redshirt sophomore
defensive tackle Justin Rhodes has 10.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.
Redshirt freshman defensive back Jordan Thomas has 10 pass breakups on
the season, adding 30 tackles and one interception.


WU leads the nation in tackles for loss and third-down defense. The
Bulldogs are second in total defense and sacks, ranking fifth in scoring
defense. Wingate is fifth nationally in rush defense and sixth in pass
defense. 


The Bulldogs’ are now 4-4 all-time in the postseason. This is WU’s second
10-win season in program history.

Major Donation Transforms Wingate’s Honors Program Into an Honors College

Features Writer: Savannah Phillips

Wingate University’s Honors Program has transitioned into a Honors College in the past year.


Dr. Allison Kellar, the founding dean, has directed the program for eight years and says that it is growing thanks to a generous donation.


Former Wingate Board of Trustee member, Evelyn Taylor, passed away and left a donation to the university. “A part of the funding went towards honors,” said Kellar, “to strengthen what the program can offer.”


Kellar says that it is important for students to have a memorable experience and have the opportunities to widen their horizons through honors. This includes securing culture events, offering experiential learning and travel, research presentation opportunities and more.


“The Honors Program has helped me to excel in college by expanding my confidence in what I’m capable of achieving,” said senior accounting major Trevor Grant.

“Yes, there is more work on the plate of an honors student. But this little push of extra, meaningful work has motivated me to apply the same type of work in other areas of my life. Just like success in the classroom, nothing worth having or achieving in life comes easy,” said Grant.


With 100 students currently enrolled in the Honors College, class sizes are smaller and more intense, guaranteeing class discussions to be highly engaging.


“I was amazed at the professionalism of my classmates and the depth of the discussion that took place,” said biology and history major Ethan Hancock.


“As I progressed through the Honors Program, I was able to conduct research in my major that helped set my pharmacy application apart from others,” said the senior.


The small community of honors students at Wingate will not grow exponentially in the coming years, predicts Kellar. In three years from now, she anticipates having 130-140 members enrolled.


The Honors College is now offering an incoming freshmen experience as well, so that students can immerse themselves in the program before they arrive on campus. The application was launched last week and Kellar says it has created a “buzz”.


Current students must be nominated by a faculty member or nominate themselves at the end of the semester. The suggested GPA is 3.4 because “college is hard and students are adjusting,” Kellar says. There is still room for Wingate students to join the Honors College, but Kellar is focusing the space on incoming freshmen.

“We’re really working on the process and procedures right now,” said Kellar, “and I’m excited to see where it goes, the adventure and the journey of moving forward.”


“I’m interested in how things grow, not in numbers, but in what kind of experiences we can bring to students and what students can bring to the Honors College and university,” she said.


Kellar opened up about her inner struggles when it comes to balancing being a professor and the Dean of the Honors College. She had only been at Wingate for two years when she was asked by the prior Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Don Merrill, to take over.


As a new faculty member, Kellar wanted to show her co-workers that she was a solid choice for the position. “I really wanted to do a good job,” she said, “and it was important to me that I made sure I worked hard. Though honored and excited, I experienced imposter syndrome.”


Though Kellar cannot teach as much as she used to, she expressed how crucial it is that she continue no matter what. By working with honors students in the classroom, Kellar says that she gets to know them better.


The honor course offerings, primarily taught by full-time faculty, are built from the needs of the students. Various options, such as honors contracts and upper level research, are available to help tailor to each individual student’s needs as best as possible.


“I have been exposed to new topics outside of my major, more discussion-based classes led by students and a lot of stimulation in classes,” said senior criminal justice major Heather Morse.


“I never would have conducted research by myself if it wasn’t for the honors program. I’m so grateful to have worked closely with one of my favorite professors on a topic I feel so passionately about,” said Morse regarding Dr. Geneice Monde, assistant dean of the Honors College. “She has been so helpful and supportive throughout my entire time at Wingate.”


Departments on campus usually rotate who teaches honors courses each semester, but the speciality of each professor must be relevant and impactful. They should have a “my door is always open” attitude and a caring mindset, says Kellar.
“Honors students are life-long learners and are intellectually curious individuals,” she said. “It is meaningful to teach. I will do the best I can and the rest will take care of itself. Not teaching is a lost connection with students.”


Kellar looks forward to seeing the places these honor students will go in the future and what kind of scholars they will become.

Flu, not COVID, Spreads Across Campus as Semester Draws to a Close

Staff Writer: Darius Johnson

As the fall semester comes to a conclusion, Wingate University’s campus has experienced a rise in serious flu-like illnesses. The Holbrook Health Center experienced a wave of students contracting illnesses similar to the flu beginning in late October, as well as symptoms that caused officials to worry about a potential return of COVID-19 cases. According to the CDC, North Carolina has a high influenza level, and the state has experienced a rise of reports of the flu much earlier than usual this year. High flu levels were also reported in the highly populated areas of South Carolina, New York, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia and Mississippi. 

This wave of the flu came with slightly more serious symptoms this year, as the nation is still recovering from pandemic conditions earlier this year. 

“I got migraines out of nowhere, and then I began getting fevers rapidly and they would come and go,” said local resident Tilman Davis. “I also experienced body aches, chills, mucus, fatigue, coughing and coughing up phlegm after a week, and I was down for about a week and a half.” 

The extent of these symptoms convinced Davis’ nurses that he was likely dealing with more than just the flu, but a potential virus as well. 

One of Wingate’s nurse practitioners, Serena Ridenhour, said she has been seeing a sudden wave of students experiencing similar symptoms. Holbrook Health Center had appointments filled during the first couple weeks of November, and students had to wait for openings or go to nearby clinics unless they were under more serious conditions. 

Wingate student Dionna Taylor described her symptoms like this: “Day one, my throat was very dry and I just knew I was coming down with something. Then throughout the day the cough came and picked up but I assumed it was the weather. The following day, I started dealing with mucus and sneezing a lot, and chills were heavy during the whole four days. Afterwards, I had a lingering cough and headache on and off for about three days.” 

Notably, the public should be advised that the flu is much more common in winter months due to the fact that indoors, where people spend more time, the air is less humid than outside. As a result, the influenza virus is alive much longer and when close contact with others occurs, it is much more likely to be spread. The virus, similar to COVID-19, is airborne and can be contracted through close contact with bodily fluids or coughing and sneezing from someone who is infected. Typical symptoms of influenza include fevers, chills, difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat and headache, with them usually lasting no more than a week. More recently, students have been experiencing these symptoms slightly longer than a week, along with some minor additional symptoms. These signs have officials closely working with the public to ensure no new strands of either influenza or COVID-19 is spreading. 

The one key difference between the coronavirus and influenza is the illness duration, as COVID symptoms typically last longer than the flu, and the period in which it’s contagious lasts longer as well. Unfortunately, all symptoms for both illnesses have been experienced with the other and CDC advises the public to get tested when symptoms occur. According to the CDC, a person infected with the influenza virus will likely experience symptoms from one to four days after infection. A person infected with COVID-19 could experience symptoms from two to 14 days after infection. Due to the recent wave of the flu-like symptoms seen on campus, students were experiencing symptoms for around a week. Moreover, after they were tested for COVID-19, cases had not been reported to have returned to the campus. Additionally, loss of taste has been seen more commonly in coronavirus cases, although it also occurs in cases of influenza as well.

To assist students who may experience similar situations in the future, the Holbrook Health faculty are advising students to treat each symptom as they may come and to get a lot of rest. Contrary to common assumptions, the Health Center does not give out antibiotics for viral illnesses such as the flu. However, Holbrook provides students remedies for coughs and mucus, along with ibuprofen and acetaminophen for those experiencing pains, headaches or fevers. The Health faculty and the CDC are also advising everyone to receive updated COVID-19 vaccines and the flu vaccine if they had not previously. The majority of students reportedly having the flu on campus did not have the vaccine, according to Holbrook Health officials. Both vaccines are administered to students free of charge at Holbrook with a student ID and no appointments are needed.

To prevent contracting the flu, students should wash hands often with warm water and soap or an alcohol-based rub. Also frequently clean surfaces, especially frequently touched surfaces as well as staying away from people who are sick. Similar to COVID-19, flu viruses are also airborne, so wearing masks in social environments will also decrease one’s chances of catching the flu. Officials are also informing the public to limit contact with others if you are sick and not to eat in public places like a cafeteria. Additionally, refrain from normal activities until 24 hours after your last symptom without fever-reducing medicine.

Wingate Fall Sports Find Unprecedented Success Across the Board in Absence of COVID Threat

Staff Writer: RJ Rennie

Wingate’s fall sports teams have each had successful seasons in 2022 in
the first semester, the first campaign not impacted by COVID-19 since
January of 2020. From cross country to football, volleyball to soccer,
almost every sport that Wingate has participated in this fall has either
been crowned conference champions or qualified for the NCAA
Tournament.


Every sport was affected by the pandemic beginning in the spring of 2020. The fall sports that year were forced to play abridged schedules,
and volleyball played a spring season rather than its usual fall campaign.
The effects of the pandemic continued to spill over into fall of 2021, as
university mask mandates and social distancing remained in effect with
no timeline as to when the restrictions would be lifted. Student-athletes
were affected just as much, if not more so, as regular students.


Fall 2022, however, marked the first full semester in almost three years
that was uninhibited by the pandemic or any outside factors, and the
success as a result has been on full display. Wingate University’s
president, Dr. Rhett Brown, has high praise for the programs and, most
importantly, the university as a whole.


“Wingate’s athletic teams and our administrative staff kept our programs
active and productive during the height of the pandemic,” Brown said.
“And due to the successful foundation we’ve built over the last couple of
decades, the fall teams are continuing the University’s run of great
results. And I can’t say enough good things about our Sports Medicine
and Student Health Center teams. There’s no way we’re as safe and
successful without their extraordinary efforts.”


One of the big success stories is the football team. After a late loss to
Newberry, costing it a chance at the South Atlantic Conference championship, the team still finished the regular season 9-2 and ranked
fifth in the regional rankings, good enough to make the 28-team NCAA
Playoffs bracket, where the Bulldogs won their first two games on the
road in the South Regional, beating fourth-seeded Virginia Union 32-7
and top-seeded Benedict 23-7. Wingate, which is now 11-2 overall and
undefeated away from home this year, now heads to Pensacola, Fla., to
play 11-1 West Florida Dec. 3 in the national quarterfinals.
After a shortened 2020 season and a disappointing end to the 2021
campaign, head coach Joe Reich is pleased with his team’s progress now
in the absence of the virus.


“The overall mental well being of our guys [is better],” said Reich,
whose team travels to Columbia, S.C., Nov. 26 to take on the region’s
top seed, Benedict, in the second round. “ We are back to semi-normal
now and things are operating as they should and the guys just seem
happier for it. Our training was drastically affected by COVID, so to
have no restrictions and to be able to be in groups and work out together
obviously has been fantastic and has helped us get better as a team.”


Volleyball is another sport that has had a remarkable season after the
pandemic’s departure. After losing to Lenoir-Rhyne in the second round
of the NCAA Tournament a year ago, the Bulldogs responded by
winning the regular-season conference title, hosting a regional and
winning all three games in that tournament to qualify for the NCAA’s
Elite Eight to be held in Seattle Dec. 1-3. Wingate, which is 32-2
heading into its NCAA quarterfinals matchup with West Texas A&M
Dec. 1 at 3 p.m., took home both of the league’s top individual honors
for Player of the Year (Shannon Kasprak) and Coach of the Year
(Shelton Collier). Collier praises his team, which has been ranked in the
Top 25 all season, for its success during the COVID campaigns, but also
attributes the team’s success this year to the struggles faced during that
time.


“Our team managed the COVID crisis in impressive fashion,” Collier
said. “[The players] worked hard physically, stayed in touch via Zoom and we still won another championship in the COVID season, [which
was] really rewarding. The fact that we stayed strong together as a team,
and made significant progress both individually and as a team during a
challenging period, set us up for the success we are now having. I am so
proud of our team for adapting during and after COVID, really showing
a special maturity and determination.”


These two teams are not the only sports to achieve success this fall. Both
the men’s and women’s cross country teams won their conference and
regional championships (hosting that event at Wingate Nov. 19) and are
on their way to the NCAA Championships at Chambers Creek Regional
Park in University Place, Wash., Dec. 2.


Men’s soccer claimed its regular-season conference title and women’s
soccer reached the SAC Tournament finals before falling to Limestone.
Both teams received bids to the NCAA Tournament as seventh seeds in
the Southeast Region. While the women, who finished 11-5-4, lost in the
first round at Catawba, the men (10-5-7) won their first two NCAA
games in overtime on penalty kicks before finally succumbing on the
road to No. 23-ranked Barry, 2-1, in the round of 16.


So, almost every sport at the university has postseason aspirations and
has had some form of regular-season success, the only exception being
field hockey which is in its inaugural season. Assistant Athletic Director
Molick Scott believes the success of the university’s sports can be
viewed as a demonstration of recovery for not only the school as a
whole, but the town and the county in general.


“I think you can see the results of recovery through the performance of
our sports programs.” Scott said. “This is one of the best fall seasons
success-wise that this school has experienced in a few years, with
multiple programs earning postseason bids into the NCAA Tournament.
Our athletes have been eager to get back out there in front of the fans,
community and their family members and they are thriving from that
support.”

Others around the university agree with Scott.
“We’ve been successful in bouncing back from the pandemic because of
cooperation and collaboration on and off campus.” Dr. Brown said.
“Whether it’s the school system, business/industry, local government or
community agencies, the story is the same — working together makes us
all better and more resilient in challenging times.”
Reich said: “As far as Union County is concerned, I do think that is a
microcosm of what is happening here. [Whether that be] improving
mental health, [or] improving quality of life.”

“At Wingate, we are all so proud of the amazingly successful athletic
program we have established in every sport here on campus,” Collier
said. “And we enjoy the great community support of all the programs.”
The school’s sports success this fall, the first semester unimpaired by
COVID in more than two years, represents the recovery from the
pandemic for Union County as a whole. The university has rallied
around its athletic success, and hopes that others will be able to follow
the example set by the school this year in terms of recovery.

Wingate XC Teams Defend South Atlantic Conference Title

Staff Writers: Michael Wayne O’Neill and Bode Arigbon

The Wingate cross-country teams took care of business Saturday morning by sweeping the South Atlantic Conference meet and taking home conference title hardware for both genders at Salisbury Community Park.

The men’s team finished with a score of 23 points and placed first overall. The Bulldogs had five runners in the top seven finishers and nine in the top 18 while finishing 31 points ahead of Catawba (54), Anderson (67), Lenoir-Rhyne (131) and Carson-Newman (142) to earn their second consecutive SAC title.

Wingate’s consistent training was a factor in their sweep, and the program benefitted from it. Head coach Pol Domenech, who was named the SAC men’s and women’s cross-country Coach of the Year, said outcomes are different from their process to prepare for races.


“We are big believers that outcomes should never be the reason why we work,” Domenech said. “Outcomes are byproducts of the process. This being said, it’s always good to retain those titles and start the last four weeks of the season with a positive experience.”


Junior Soheil Boufrizi, who won the conference meet individual title with a time of 25 minutes and 22 seconds in the 8,000-kilometer race, led the way for the Wingate men’s team. Seniors Saul Valdez, Brent Surratt, junior Jakob Rettschlag, senior Henning Kunze and sophomore Leo Freeland finished in a pattern of 4-5-6-7-8, respectively.


The No. 10-ranked Wingate women’s team also finished first place at the SAC Conference Meet with 34 points. The Bulldogs, who collected its sixth SAC title, outscored second-place Anderson (53), third-place Catawba (78), Lenoir-Rhyne (81) and Lincoln Memorial (133).


Sophomore Grace Burrell led the way for the women’s team by placing third in the 6,000- kilometer race with a time of 22 minutes and 20 seconds. Juniors Mollie Scott and Brooklyn Pierce finished fourth and fifth respectively, behind Burrell 12 seconds apart from each other.


While Wingate slowly left this meet behind them, more is in sight for the program. The Bulldogs will host the NCAA Division 2 Southeast Regional Meet Saturday, Nov. 19, with the men’s 10K race beginning at 10 a.m. and the women’s 6K race beginning at 11:15 a.m.


Wingate plans to dominate the meet on its pathway, but Domenech knows punching the ticket to compete in the D2 Nationals Meet in Seattle will not be easy.


“Making it to Seattle is the goal,” Domenech said. “We have never been on that course, but both teams did make it to nationals last year (at Saint Leo, Fla.), so we are experienced in regards to what needs to be done. Our men and women are more mature than last year, and we feel
confident that we will be ready.”

CAMPUS NOTEBOOK: Residence Life Encouraging Students to ‘Pull in’ Roommate of Their Choice to Replace December Graduates

Staff Writer: Jordyn Gaither

With December graduation quickly approaching, Wingate
students with roommates who are final-semester seniors are
being reminded by Residence Life that they have the option to
“pull in” a roommate of their choice to fill any vacancies in a room
or suite.


Pull-in roommates can only be acquired if you directly share
a room with a graduating senior or if there is a graduating senior
in your suite. Freshmen, however, are not allowed to be pulled
into an upperclassman living area.


If a student occupies a space in South Village with four
rooms, the pull-in is granted to the individual sharing a bathroom
with the opening. If you are a student who shares a room,
bathroom or apartment with an upcoming graduate, you will have
the chance to choose a roommate of your choice by the deadline,
which is Nov. 28 at 9 a.m. Students not responding by the
deadline will have random replacements assigned by Residence
Life.


Any questions regarding the process should be directed to
the Residence Life office by email at res.life@wingate.edu or
phone (704-233-8245). Students can also visit the Help Desk on
the first floor of Alumni Hall located in the Quad between the
library and Burris.


Tuition balance minimum lowered, preventing some
students from registering for spring classes

With spring registration in full swing, the university
announced on Oct. 30 via a Bulldog Central email to students that
it has lowered the minimum tuition balance required to register
for classes by $1,000.


Previously, the minimum balance on an account could be
$1,500, but now students can owe no more than $500 in order to
be authorized for registration.


Many students were surprised by the timing of the
announcement, which at the least delayed their registration and
perhaps caused them to be unable to get classes in high demand
for their major.


Zoi Lucas, a sophomore Biology major from Morrisville,
N.C.,, said that the move comes at a time when “it is already hard
to pay for college” and that the late notice kept her from
registering because she was under the assumption that the $1,500
minimum was still intact.

—Kaila Vaughn

Delta Sigma Phi raises $400 with Haunted House


The Delta Sigma Phi fraternity held its annual Haunted
House on Oct. 28 from 7:30 to 11 p.m. at Alumni Hall, raising
about $400 during the evening. Featuring a cast dressed as horror
movie characters like Michael Myers from “Halloween,” Freddy
Krueger of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and Jason from
“Halloween,” the event drew around 100 Wingate students who
paid $4 per ticket at the door.

—Ethan Kilby

Jaquan Edwards: Barely Recruited to Wingate Football Star

Staff Writer: RJ Rennie

Redshirt senior middle linebacker Jaquan Edwards is leading a
Wingate defense that has been nothing short of dominant during
the 2022 campaign. While the star defender has been a ferocious
tackler this season, off the field he is a soft-spoken family man
with a soft spot for home.


Born in Johnston, S.C., to John and Betty Edwards, Jaquan has
no shortage of athletes in his family. Both of his parents were
athletes in their day, and his brother, Tay Edwards, played football
in high school before exploring a different path after graduation.
Jaquan is a graduate of Strom Thurmond High School in
Edgefield County, where Johnston is located.


Edwards has a particular affection for his hometown. “A lot of
people don’t know us, but I try to represent [the town] hard,” he
said. “It’s the peace capital of the world located in the Lowcountry
of South Carolina.”


The town of about 2,500 residents is located about 100 miles
away from Wingate’s campus, but in Edwards’ four years at the
university, the distance has not kept him from making it home to
see his parents, siblings and family dog. He says that they are a
“dog family,” and they still have one of the two dogs he grew up
with.


“I try to make it home every chance I get,” he said. “I’m a really
family-oriented guy, so after being away from home I like to get
back to my city.”


Being from such a small town, it seemed like a perfect fit for
Edwards to end up at a place like Wingate, but his eyes were not
always fixed on the school. He had several schools recruit him out of high school, but they all dropped him right before the time
came to enroll.

Then former Wingate assistant coach Dillon
Tucker, the Bulldogs’ recruiting coordinator for his area at that
time, reached out to him, and Edwards was able make a quick trip
north to meet head coach Joe Reich.


Edwards says he is indebted to Reich for giving him his chance to
play college football.


“Coach Reich blessed me with an opportunity.” Edwards said.
“They showed me much love, and I told them I was coming on the
spot with no hesitation.”


After arriving on campus, Edwards graduated with a bachelor’s
degree in psychology, and he is currently enrolled in the MAT
(Master’s of Art and Teaching) program at the university.
Edwards was a three-sport athlete in high school, playing football,
basketball and baseball. He was primarily a forward in basketball
due to his 5-11, 228-pound stature, and in baseball he was a
catcher.

After a knee injury his sophomore year, he decided to
quit basketball and focus his attention on baseball and football.
In football, he was not always a linebacker. He played running
back for Strom Thurmond High, compiling 2,523 yards rushing
and 28 rushing touchdowns in his four years with the Rebels. That
offensive focus meant all of his high school tape was as a running
back, not at the position for which he currently excels. That switch
came after he arrived on campus and joined the team.


“Coach Reich asked me what I wanted to play, and I said
whatever helps the team,” Edwards said. “Coach told me that they
wanted me to be comfortable, and whatever position I wanted to
play I could play. We had some great guys in the backfield, so I
felt like I had a better opportunity to get on the field quicker at
linebacker. I went with that, and it’s turning out all right.”

It has been more than all right for Edwards and the Bulldogs’
defense this season. The group has led the nation in scoring
defense for most of the campaign, allowing 9.9 points per game,
and Edwards is among the conference leaders in tackles with
65.0.

He was a preseason first-team All-South Atlantic
Conference selection and picked as a team captain for the
Bulldogs. He has embraced the leadership role this season,
providing direction to help the defense thrive.


“It’s easy to lead those guys, because everyone has their team
agenda, and they are going to push each other and make each
other better.” Edwards said. “Sirod [Cook] pusing Justin Rhodes,
[sophomore defensive tackle] Justin Rhodes pushing DJ Horne,
[senior defensive end] DJ Horne pushing my guy [sophomore
defensive end Marquise] Fleming. It’s like iron sharpening iron out
there, and as a captain it’s very easy to lead those guys.”


Edwards’ teammates share the same respect for his leadership.
“Jaquan Edwards has always been a great leader,” Rhodes said.
“He always gets us in the right position, and if things go wrong we
look to him as a guy to help everybody step their game up. He is
a really important piece to our defense.”


As a diehard Baltimore Ravens fan, Edwards admires the talent of
NFL Hall of Fame middle linebacker Ray Lewis. Currently, he
models his linebacker play after the likes of Tampa Bay’s Devin
White and Pittsburgh’s Devin Bush Jr. As an All-America
candidate who’s leading arguably the best defense in all of
Division II, Edwards has been busy showing the teams that didn’t
recruit him what they are missing.

Wingate Football Wins Fifth Straight at L-R, Plays for Division Title Saturday at Home Against Newberry

Cover Photo: Wingate defensive tackle Justin Rhodes stands over Lenoir-Rhyne quarterback Sean White after a sack in last Saturday’s 24-21 win over the Bears

Staff Writers: Samuel Rodriguez and RJ Rennie

The Wingate football team, winners of five consecutive games and six
straight on the road, takes on Newberry at Irwin Belk Stadium Nov. 5 in a
showdown for the Piedmont Division title of the South Atlantic Conference.
Coming on the heels of their 24-21 road win over top SAC rival Lenoir-
Rhyne last Saturday, the 8-1 Bulldogs (6-1 SAC) now have the inside track
to winning the league crown. A victory over the Indians Saturday will give
Wingate the right to host the first-ever SAC Championship Game on Nov.
12.


Over the last three weeks, the Bulldogs have gelled as a team and shown
great resilience, coming back from 21 points down to win in overtime at
Limestone Oct. 15 and then drilling Barton 28-3 at home Oct. 22 before the
big win over L-R, which snapped a five-game losing streak to the Bears.
Last year, Wingate lost 31-6 at home to its top rival. The team moved to 7-1
overall and 5-1 in the South Atlantic Conference.


After struggling early in the season, the offense for the Bulldogs has been
much improved in recent games. Graduate student quarterback Shaw
Crocker has thrown for 1,560 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine
interceptions so far this season, while adding 197 yards and three scores on
the ground.


“With the comeback at Limestone, I think that it was us really showing
what we’re capable of and it was definitely great to be a part of,” redshirt
senior tight end Luke Ferrell said. “I thought that we as a team were
clicking against Barton. Everything worked like a well-oiled machine.” 

The passing game for the Bulldogs has been stellar during this stretch.
Junior wide receiver Myles Dillon leads the team with 27 receptions, 334
receiving yards and four touchdown catches. He’s been given strong
support from fellow wideouts Ra’Quan Simmons (18 catches), Kamal Desor
(15) and Trevor Bryan (10).

Junior Kalen Clark leads the team in rushing with 452 yards, but
sophomore Alexander Wilson has come on of late, rushing for 53 yards on
11 carries against L-R. For the season, Wilson leads the team in rushing
touchdowns (four) and rushing average at 5.0 yards per carry.


“Against Barton, we started off hot, but we’ve got to do better in the second
half,” senior backup quarterback Dylan Elkins said. “I think our entire
running back group really stood out and stepped up this week. Players like
[running back] Kalen Clark made some big plays happen for us.” 


However, it’s a defense led by All-America linebacker candidate Jaquan
Edwards that has been the Bulldogs’ calling card. Wingate leads the nation
in total defense, third-down defense and tackles for loss. The Bulldogs, who
are one of only two teams in the country holding opponents to less than 10
points per game (9.9 ppg), rank among the top five defensively in sacks
(second), red-zone defense (fifth) and first downs allowed (third).


Senior defensive end DJ Horne leads conference in sacks with 7.5, while
sophomore linebacker Davon Gilmore and Edwards share the team lead in
total tackles with 65. Gilmore earned his first SAC Defensive Player of the
Week of his career after the Bulldogs’ victory against Barton. Sophomore
defensive end Marquise Fleming leads the SAC in tackles for loss with
15.0, just ahead of Gilmore and Horne, who have 12.0 each.

Wingate ranked third in Region 2 of the four Division 2 regional rankings
released this week.

Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift Review: The Best Out of The Big Three Fast and Furious Films

Guest Writer and Wayfind Scholar: Cristopher Puente

The Fast and Furious franchise is one of the biggest franchises in the world, grossing over six billion dollars at the worldwide box office. What started out as common street-racing films have evolved to include heists, spies, emphasis on family, and expensive cars.  When even looking into the latest Fast Saga film released last year, audiences can clearly see the departure from the original three films. 

Notably known for being the lowest-grossing film in the franchise, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift still stands the test of time as one of the better Fast and Furious films mainly due to the cinematography and storytelling by Justin Lin.

 Tokyo Drift focuses on the main character Shawn, a high school car enthusiast that constantly stays in trouble. We find out Shawn makes his family move around consistently, so Shawn gets moved to Tokyo, Japan. Shawn meets new characters who would become friends, but also others who feel Shawn isn’t welcome on their turf. Shawn begins to learn how to drift, build trust, and correct mistakes that he created. 

Tokyo Drift always shines in the technical aspect, as the cinematography of the film is great, illustrating Tokyo, Japan with wonderful shots of the skyline and tightly confined spaces that make the viewer become encapsulated with the city. This great showcase of the city adds to the action scenes, allowing pacing and tense scenes to flow well. The shots shown in the film are not confusing or overwhelming for the audience, making it mirror the simple plot.

Featured in the film were cars having great diversity, ranging from American muscle going in straight lines to Japanese cars drifting around narrow tight corners. The car Shawn uses in the climax of the film is a 67 Ford Mustang, swapped with a Nissan RB engine, this car is very controversial however since it’s an American car on Japanese streets, with a Japanese engine in it. Originally, it was supposed to have an American V8 which in technicality may not work. The car causes spark, which is not common in Mustangs, making this type of car extremely special for the film.

A confusing narrative aspect of Tokyo Drift is the timeline of the film. This is not easy to understand since the film was produced in 2006, with the technology of that year, yet the film’s setting takes place in 2016. You can see the problem where the technology does not match the time of the film’s setting. Tokyo Drift is the 3rd installment in the franchise but in the Fast world, it takes place 6th or 7th, creating issues with the other films that have been released. 

While Lucas Black does his best to play Shawn in the film, the uncanniness of his “high-school attitude” is off-putting. You can also see this when Lucas Black’s character goes to Japan, and we can view the difference between Shawn’s character and everyone else who looks like they’re supposed to be in High School.  

When Tokyo Drift was released on June 16, 2006, it was considered a commercial failure compared to the other Fast and Furious Films. At the time it had a lot of mixed reviews where it got praise for its driving sequences and some criticism for the screenplay and performances by the actors.  It had no Paul Walker or Vin Diesel who became drawing factors for audiences to return. This film didn’t make much money at launch but what came after the film has had a lasting impact. Director Justin Lin who directed Tokyo Drift would come back and direct more Fast and Furious films that have projected it to what it is today.

Justin Lin has also directed Better Luck Tomorrow, almost all Fast & Furious films, and Star Trek Beyond. For the upcoming Fast franchise film, Justin Lin has left so his signature style and action sequences may change in the next installment.    

Even with its flaws, Tokyo Drift is a great action experience. No matter what is happening or being done in the film, it all feels correct in the fictional world. The simplicity of the film’s plot is another reason I find Tokyo Drift so special. The whole conflict of Shawn’s character against himself and others is great to see in modern cinema, and no audience member would ever root against the underdog. Mirroring that of the franchise itself, Tokyo Drift is the unsung underdog of the Fast and Furious franchise.