South Charlotte

Preston leads Chargers to N.C. title in 1st try

From 1995 to 1998, Dean Preston played on the Providence Day golf team during his high school days.

After a standout career at Lenoir-Rhyne and a short stint in the mini professional golf tours in Florida, Preston returned to his alma mater to coach the team on which he once starred.

Preston didn't waste any time this season, as the first-year Charger coach led Providence to a NCISAA 3A state championship in his inaugural campaign.

"I inherited a talented group of players here, so I knew we had the potential to be good," said Preston, whose day job is with Craig and Preston Insurance in Charlotte. "We really started to come together towards the end of the year at the conference and state tournaments. We definitely peaked at the right time."

Preston and the Chargers dominated the CISAA conference and NCISAA 3A state titles, beating the field by 16 strokes in each.

The Chargers have a wealth of talent and were led by different players at different times.

Sophomore Davis Bateman led the way at states, scoring a two-day, 6-under-par 138 to earn co-medalist honors with Wesleyan Christian's Davis Womble. Sophomore Christian Cichan and senior Harry Murrell both shot an even-par 144 for the tournament. The Chargers carded an even-par 576 as a team.

Murrell won the CISAA tournament at Charlotte Country Club earlier this month with a even-par 72.

"I don't know if I would have believed that we could be this good at the beginning of the year," said Davis Bateman. "But I did know we had it in us. It's amazing how it all came together in the end. I don't think it's quite sunk in what we accomplished."

The Chargers' tight-knit group also includes Davis' older brother, senior Kenan Bateman; Ryan Nole; Guille Henegar; and Paul Fitzgerald.

All seven contributed to what turned out to be the first state title for the Chargers since 2000. "We are all very close and great friends," said Davis Bateman. "I think that made this even more special. I think it really means a lot to us and the school."

Preston was encouraged to return to his alma mater by several people in Providence Day's administration, and he plans to return next year to help his team make another run at a state title. But Preston won't put his players under any undue pressure.

"I am a very laid-back guy, and that is how I treat my players," said Preston, whose team also finished fourth overall at the Palmetto tournament in Myrtle Beach. "We are all very competitive and we all want to win, but I don't change my personality to do that. I hope that rubs off when these guys are in pressure situations."