Dragon Boat racers prepare for inaugural festival in May

Penny Behling Emerald Youth Dragon Boat Racing

Penny Behling teaches youth and mentors of Emerald Youth’s Just Lead program the fundamentals of dragon boat racing on Monday at Melton Lake Park. (Photos by Sara Wise)

On Monday, Dynamic Dragon Boats came to Oak Ridge to prepare locals for the city’s Inaugural Dragon Boat Race scheduled for May 31.

Monday’s event served as a beginner’s guide to the city’s first event, but also hosted young adults in Emerald Youth Foundation’s JustLead group.

Penny Behling and her husband, Chris, own the Dragon Boat company, a Knoxville firm that participates in dragon boat events around the country. The pair said the sport is really gaining interest in the Knoxville area, with inaugural events in Oak Ridge and Blount County scheduled this spring and summer, as well as Knoxville’s Dragon Boat race June 21.

Dragon boats are long canoe-like boats adorned with the faces of Chinese dragons. They hold teams of 20 with participants arranged by size.

Behling said dragon boat festivals are gaining steam in the area simply because dragon boating is easy to do. This year, she has five scheduled events in Tennessee, and more nationwide.

“It’s very popular,” she said. “People realize they can do it and that it doesn’t take a super fit human being. This is something anybody can do.” [Read more...]

Annual Sportsman’s Showcase to feature call-maker Preston Pittman

May 3 event in Oneida to serve as fundraiser for CASA of the Tennessee Heartland

ONEIDA—Hunters and anglers are invited to the Boys and Girls Club of Scott County for good food, good fellowship, and support of a great cause as CASA of the Tennessee Heartland hosts its second annual Scott Sportsman Showcase on May 3.

The event, slated to begin at 5 p.m., will be highlighted by Preston Pittman as the featured speaker.

The 60-year-old Pittman is called by many the world’s best turkey caller, and he has the trophies to back it up. Winning his first turkey calling championship at the age of 16, Pittman has gone on to become a seven-time national champion turkey caller, a nine-time National Champ of Champs, and has been crowned the U.S. Gobbling Champion, Grand National Gobbling Champion, and Grand National Champ of Champs. He is the only person to hold five different world titles. [Read more...]

Enjoy city parks as weather warms this spring

The Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department is working hard to prepare our award-winning parks and greenways for spring, officials said.

“After many days of cold weather and snow, sunshine and warmer temperatures will be drawing folks outside very soon,” a press release said. “This means more people will be utilizing our parks and greenway trails. To assure the safety of all of our visitors, it is especially important that everyone follow the posted rules.”

Please keep these rules in mind as you are out on our greenways and trails: [Read more...]

Football player McKamey, 19, dies after brain injury

Information from WYSH Radio

Late Tuesday night, the U.S. Naval Academy athletic department announced that 19-year-old freshman running back Will McKamey died on Tuesday, three days after collapsing during spring football practice. McKamey was flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center following the incident and underwent surgery to treat brain swelling and a blood clot over the weekend. He remained in a coma until he passed away Tuesday afternoon.

His parents, Kara and Randy McKamey, were very active on social media since Will went to the hospital, updating friends, family and complete strangers on the condition of their son. The online support drew attention from all over the country and the world as prayers were offered up for Will and his family, and his story was reported on by several national media outlets.

Randy McKamey was his son’s coach at Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville and also coached football at Clinton Middle School for several years.

Will McKamey won the state Mr. Football Back of the Year award in 2012, his senior season at Grace, and was majoring in oceanography at the Naval Academy. In his final high school game, he suffered a brain injury that ended his high school career and kept him in the hospital for several days but never needed surgery during his stay. [Read more...]

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...]

Boys and Girls Club has baseball sign-ups, evaluations this week

The Boys and Girls Club of Oak Ridge has baseball sign-ups through March 28.

It’s for boys and girls from five to 12 years old.The sign-ups are $25 for active club members and $40 for inactive or non-club members.

Baseball evaluations are at 6 p.m. Thursday for children who are seven and eight years old, and at 6 p.m. Friday for kids from 9-12.

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...]