Oak Ridge loses first Battle of Solway Bridge, but coach vows victory next year

Hardin Valley High Jump

Hardin Valley won the trophy in the Battle of the Solway Bridge with Oak Ridge on Tuesday, but Oak Ridge Coach Allen Etheridge is already planning a victory next year.

Oak Ridge coach vows victory next year; Tuesday’s results posted below

Hardin Valley Academy won the trophy at the first Battle of the Solway Bridge track meet in Oak Ridge on Tuesday, but Wildcats Coach Allen Etheridge is already planning a victory at the second annual event.

“We’re planning two victory laps at HVA next year!” Etheridge joked in a Wednesday morning e-mail.

The Battle of the Solway Bridge at Ben Martin Track on Tuesday pitted two track powers against each other one-on-one.

“We will line up our best people in our best events against theirs,” Etheridge said before the meet. On Tuesday, Etheridge said dual meets like the Battle of the Solway Bridge are unusual. Most track meets feature five to 25 teams and sometimes more. [Read more...]

Battle of the Solway Bridge track meet in Oak Ridge on Tuesday

Ben Martin Track

The Ben Martin Track at Oak Ridge High School is pictured above.

Oak Ridge will host the first annual Battle of the Solway Bridge at the Ben Martin Track on Tuesday.

“This dual meet against Hardin Valley Academy pits two track powers against each other 1-1,” Oak Ridge Coach Allen Etheridge said. “We will line up our best people in our best events against theirs.

“There’s a gaudy 36-inch trophy for the winner.”

The field events start at 5 p.m., and track events begin at 6 p.m.

Several hundred compete in Ben Martin Middle School track meet

Ben Martin Invitational

Several hundred students from five regional middle schools, including Jefferson and Robertsville, competed in the Ben Martin Middle School Invitational track meet in Oak Ridge on Thursday.

Several hundred students from five middle schools competed in the first-ever Ben Martin Middle School Invitational track meet in Oak Ridge on Thursday.

The meet was named after Ben Martin, a legendary Sports Hall of Fame coach who won seven state championships as track coach at Oak Ridge High School. Thursday’s meet was at Ben Martin Track at the high school.

Martin was the first ORHS track and football coach, and he won championships in both sports and began the entire athletic program at the high school, ORHS Cross Country Coach Allen Etheridge said.

“I talked with longtime Oak Ridge coach Winston Russell today, who told me that he remembered coach Martin as the guy who was always there, the guy who would coach anyone at any time,” Etheridge said Monday. “(Martin) was an assistant football coach and was head basketball coach.”

Athletes from Cherokee, Jefferson, Karns, Rhea County, and Robertsville middle schools competed in Thursday’s meet, which included events ranging from relays and hurdles to long jumps and high jumps. [Read more...]

ORHS cross country hosts middle school track meets named for legendary coaches

On Thursday, the Oak Ridge High School cross country teams will host the first ever Ben Martin Middle School Invitational track meet at the Ben Martin Track at ORHS. The meet will include eight teams. Each event will contain two heats, and a new FinishLynx fully automatic timing system will be used to time them. Field events start at 4:30 p.m., and the meet begins at about 5:45 p.m.

“This is a great step for ORHS middle school track,” Coach Allen Etheridge said.

The teams will do the same on Thursday, April 10, at the Jim McNamee Middle School Invitational.

“We named these meets after two legendary Sports Hall of Fame coaches because they are important to the history of athletics at Oak Ridge High School,” Etheridge said. “Coach Martin was the first ORHS track and football coach who won championships in both sports and began the entire athletic program at ORHS. Coach Mac won eight state titles in cross country and one in girls track before retiring in 2004. We aim to do both coaches proud by hosting a top-quality track and field meet.”

School board approves Blankenship bleacher replacement

Blankenship Field Visitors Bleachers

Deemed to be unsafe, the visitors bleachers at Blankenship Field have been de, and replacing them could cost more than $500,000.

Note: This story was updated at 9:15 a.m. March 25.

The Oak Ridge Board of Education on Monday unanimously approved a $455,000 project to replace the visitor bleachers at Blankenship Field. The bleachers had been deemed unsafe, and they have already been demolished.

School officials are hoping to replace them before the first home football game on Aug. 29. In a unanimous voice vote Monday, the school board agreed to use the school system’s fund balance to pay for the replacement bleachers.

Board members plan to ask city officials for additional help to finish part of the project, including a $69,000 handicapped ramp with switchbacks from the city-owned parking lot below the field up to the city-owned field, which is at Jack Armstrong Stadium in central Oak Ridge. The ramp could be built when the city renovates the parking lot. [Read more...]

Low bid on Blankenship bleachers: $524,000

Blankenship Field Visitors Bleachers

Deemed to be unsafe, the visitors bleachers at Blankenship Field have been removed, and replacing them could cost more than $500,000.

The low bid on the bleacher replacement project at Blankenship Field came in at $523,940, a school official said Friday.

The bid on the project to replace the demolished visitor bleachers includes grading work and a handicap sidewalk at Jack Armstrong Stadium. Proposals were accepted through Friday. The recommended proposal from Dant Clayton Corp. of Louisville, Ky., will be considered by the Oak Ridge Board of Education on Monday.

Allen Thacker, Oak Ridge Schools maintenance and operations supervisor, said the project could cost another $40,000 if the Wildcat Crossing stairs on the home side of the field are reconditioned. That would make the total cost $563,940. It was the lowest of two qualified bids.

Thacker said funding for the project has not yet been identified. It’s been discussed at several recent meetings of the Oak Ridge City Council and Board of Education. Municipal and education officials have said options include city funding, school funding, a mix of the two, and donations. Earlier this month, School Board Chair Keys Fillauer told City Council that a funding decision could be made Monday. [Read more...]

CHS Lady Dragons’ hoops coach resigns

Information from WYSH Radio

Clinton High School girls’ basketball coach Tonya Lively-Snyder has resigned after 15 years on the bench.

The Lady Dragons are coming off a 4-20 season that saw them bow out of the first round of the District 3-AAA tournament. Since the 2001-02 season—the last for which reliable records are available—Clinton’s girls went 134-221.

Lively-Snyder’s best season at Clinton was the 2008-09 campaign, when her team led by future NAIA standouts Cody Houck and Amber Taylor went 22-9 and advanced to the regional tournament. [Read more...]

Wildcats’ lead slips away in fourth quarter of state championship

Oak Ridge Wildcats 2014 State Runner Up

The Oak Ridge Wildcats were named Class AAA State Runner-Up after a 60-58 loss to the Blackman Blaze in Murfreesboro on Saturday.

MURFREESBORO—The Oak Ridge Wildcats gave up an 11-point lead in a series of turnovers in the fourth quarter before losing to the Blackman Blaze 60-58 in a state championship game in Murfreesboro on Saturday.

Wildcats senior Jaylin Henderson had a game-high 24 points in the Class AAA final, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the combined scoring of four Blaze players who scored 10 or more each. The Wildcats were named 2014 State Runner-Up.

Oak Ridge (32-8) looked like it was headed to victory in the third quarter and early in the fourth, but the Blaze (28-6) stepped up the pressure and the Wildcats weren’t able to protect the ball.

Oak Ridge Coach Aaron Green said a series of five fourth-quarter turnovers, including back-to-back steals, shifted the momentum. Many of the Wildcats’ turnovers led to easy layups, and the Blaze went on a 14-0 scoring run at the Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. [Read more...]

Wildcats will play for state championship after beating Arlington 57-56

Oak Ridge Wildcats and Arlington Tigers

The Oak Ridge Wildcats found a scoring formula that worked well on Friday: get the ball inside to senior Isaac Merian (#33) and let him fake out a defender before shooting in double and triple coverage.

MURFREESBORO—The Oak Ridge boys’ basketball team will play for a state championship for the first time in 51 years after beating the Arlington Tigers 57-56 in a semifinal game in Murfreesboro on Friday. It was a victory decided by a tie-breaking free throw with only a few seconds remaining.

The Wildcats (32-7) will now battle the Blackman Blaze (27-6) in the Class AAA state tournament finals in Murfreesboro on Saturday afternoon.

Senior Isaac Merian overcame double and triple teams on Friday to lead all scorers with 21 points. He often faked a shot, let a defender go by, and then fired.

“I just kept playing my game, and my shots kept falling,” said Merian, a 6-foot-6 power forward who also had three blocks. “It’s probably one of the most memorable games. I’ll tell this one to my kids.” [Read more...]

Oak Ridge advances to state semifinals with 66-45 win over Jefferson County

Oak Ridge Wildcats and Jefferson County Quarterfinals

From left are seniors Isaac Merian and Jaylin Henderson and freshman Tee Higgins, and Wildcats basketball coach Aaron Green.

Note: This story was last updated at 11:02 p.m.

MURFREESBORO—Oak Ridge advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 1999 with a 66-45 win over Jefferson County in Murfreesboro on Wednesday.

The Wildcats (31-7) will play Arlington (29-4) in Murfreesboro at 11:30 a.m. CDT Friday (12:30 p.m. EDT) in a Class AAA state boys’ basketball semifinal game.

The Wildcats said teamwork was key to the Wednesday afternoon quarterfinal win at Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University. They cited steals—Oak Ridge had nine total—double-teaming on defense against the tall Patriots team, and improvements in rebounding compared to their performance during a Nov. 27 win over Jefferson County (30-6).

“We played more as a team,” said senior guard Jaylin Henderson, who scored 11 points and had four steals. “I think we were hot.” [Read more...]

Oak Ridge to play Jefferson County in state tournament Wednesday

Oak Ridge Wildcats 2014 District Champions

The Oak Ridge Wildcats are pictured above celebrating a district championship win over the Hall Red Devils in February.

The Oak Ridge Wildcats boys’ basketball team will play Jefferson County in the first round of the state tournament on Wednesday.

The Division I Class AAA quarterfinals game starts at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

The Oak Ridge Wildcats are 30-7, and the Jefferson County Patriots are 30-5. The Wildcats are Region 2-AAA runner-ups, and the Patriots are Region 1 runner-ups.

Oak Ridge beat the Dobyns-Bennett Indians 62-55 in a Class AAA sectional game on Tuesday to advance to the state tournament for the second year in a row. The Indians were Region 1 champions, beating Jefferson County 63-52 on Feb. 27. [Read more...]

Schools seek bids to replace demolished Blankenship bleachers

Blankenship Field Visitors Bleachers

Declared unsafe, the visitors bleachers at Blankenship Field have been removed, and the project to replace them has been put out for bids.

The visitors bleachers at Blankenship Field have been demolished, and the Oak Ridge Schools are scurrying to replace them by the start of the high school football season this fall.

Project bids are being accepted through March 21, although it’s not clear yet who will pay for the new bleachers and other improvements at Jack Armstrong Stadium. The bids could be considered by the Oak Ridge Board of Education on March 24.

The board could also make a funding decision then, School Board Chair Keys Fillauer told Oak Ridge City Council members during a Monday night meeting. There are a range of options that include city funding, school funding, and donations, among others. [Read more...]