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...]

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...]

UT, ORNL, NASA, TVA help robotic ‘football’ kick off this week

FIRST Robotics' Aerial Assist

This image shows what a game of FIRST Robotics’ Aerial Assist, a football-like game played by robots, might look like. (Photo courtesy University of Tennessee)

KNOXVILLE—Football season is still months away, but those needing a quick fix before fall can get a chance to see a version of the game played by competitors functioning like well-oiled machines.

The FIRST Robotics Competition Smoky Mountain Regional returns to the Knoxville Convention Center March 26-29, and is centered around a game featuring strong elements from football and soccer called Aerial Assist.

The idea behind Aerial Assist is that the 50 teams at the competition—from as far away as St. Louis and as close as the L&N STEM Academy across World’s Fair Park—will each build a robot capable of throwing, kicking, or running with a round ball with the goal of scoring a goal at each end of a field, or one capable of playing defense.

The University of Tennessee’s College of Engineering in Knoxville helps sponsor the event along with various technology and industry organizations such as NASA, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. [Read more...]

Blankenship bleacher project could cost $550,000; funding not clear

The Oak Ridge Board of Education on Monday will consider whether to demolish the visitor bleachers at Blankenship Field.

Demolition work has started at the visitor bleachers at Blankenship Field, which are pictured above in January. Replacing them could cost $375,00 with another $175,000 requested for related projects.

It could cost a total of $550,000 to replace the visitor bleachers at Blankenship Field and complete related projects ranging from repairing the Wildcat Crossing stairs on the home side of the field to replacing the retaining wall and removing trees behind the visitor bleachers.

Demolition work on the deteriorated bleachers has already started. The Oak Ridge Board of Education approved that project in January.

It could cost about $375,000 to replace just the bleachers, said Allen Thacker, maintenance and operations supervisor for Oak Ridge Schools. And the seating capacity would be reduced from 3,400 seats to 2,000.

But it’s not clear yet who will pay for the replacements or supply the extra $175,000 for related projects, which also include replacing stairs and sidewalks at the visitor restrooms. [Read more...]

School board approves demolition of visitor bleachers at Blankenship

The Oak Ridge Board of Education on Monday will consider whether to demolish the visitor bleachers at Blankenship Field.

The Oak Ridge Board of Education on Monday approved the demolition of the deteriorated visitor bleachers at Blankenship Field.

The city’s school board on Monday unanimously agreed to demolish the deteriorated visitor bleachers at Blankenship Field.

Inspections have determined that the bleachers are no longer safe for fans, would cost too much to repair, and should be demolished immediately, a school official said this month.

“There is a very, very significant issue that we need to get on with,” said Bob Eby, Oak Ridge Board of Education vice chair, before the 5-0 voice vote on Monday.

The board hasn’t approved a replacement plan yet, but Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers said the goal is to have new bleachers by the start of the next football season this fall. The school system is looking at all options in case the bleachers aren’t available by then, Borchers said. [Read more...]

Family, friends remember Cub Scout who wanted to be a police officer

Treí-Roan Vann and Football Trophy

Treí-Roan Vann is pictured above with a second-place football trophy in the Boys Club VFC Conference on Oct. 26. (Photo courtesy Crist Vann)

Like his older brother David, Treí-Roan Vann wanted to be a police officer when he grew up. He also wanted to play soccer this year. He never got the chance to do either.

Treí, a third-grade student at Linden Elementary School, was found unresponsive on his school bus at about 4:10 p.m. Tuesday near his home on Wilberforce Avenue. He was taken by ambulance to Methodist Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

His father Crist Vann said Treí, as he was called, was a very good eight-year-old.

“He didn’t get into too many problems,” Vann said Wednesday night. “He was always concerned about people. He was always willing to lend a helping hand. He was always the life of the room.”

It’s not clear what happened to Treí on Tuesday.

“He went to school,” Crist Vann said. “Everybody at school said he was fine. On the way home, he was unresponsive. They thought he was asleep. They couldn’t bring him back.” [Read more...]

West eliminates Anderson County 32-19 on big plays in quarterfinals

Anderson County Mavericks and West Rebels

Mavericks quarterback Tyler Hicks, right, looks downfield for a receiver as linebacker Noah Hoxie of the West Rebels rushes in during a 32-19 quarterfinals loss for Anderson County on Friday night.

CLINTON—Big plays made the difference on Friday night as Knoxville West eliminated Anderson County 32-19 in a Class 5A quarterfinals game.

Both coaches gave credit to the Mavericks (11-2, 7-1 in District 3) for playing well on offense and defense, and Coach Davey Gillum said Anderson County won most of the plays.

“But when they won a play, it was a big one,” Gillum said of the Rebels.

The Mavericks’ Matt Fox, who sprained an ankle last week against Cherokee, was still hurt and not playing at normal speed, and he had trouble cutting, Gillum said. The star running back was held to 25 yards on 12 carries. [Read more...]

Wildcats fall in first round of playoffs to East Hamilton 25-10

Oak Ridge Wildcats and East Hamilton Hurricanes

Hunter Parker, left, of East Hamilton knocks down a pass in front of Blake Goins, center, and Ted Mitchell of the Wildcats as the Hurricanes eliminate Oak Ridge from the Class 5A playoffs during a first-round game in Ooltewah on Friday. (Photos by Julio Culiat)

OOLTEWAH—The Oak Ridge Wildcats’ first season under returning Coach Joe Gaddis ended in a 25-10 loss to the East Hamilton Hurricanes on Friday.

The first-round playoff game on a cold night in Ooltewah was relatively close until the end of the third quarter, when the Hurricanes gained a 16-10 lead and started to pull away.

Oak Ridge struggled on offense throughout the game and had “no spark,” Gaddis said. The Wildcats finished the night with 183 total yards on offense, compared to 289 for the Hurricanes. [Read more...]

Roane rallies around injured student-athlete

Information from WYSH Radio

Classmates of a Kingston High School sophomore football player who broke his neck on the first play of last week’s game against Sequoyah showed their support and rallied the community’s support for him on Tuesday.

Seth Haynes shattered the third vertebrae in his neck in the game and underwent surgery at the University of Tennessee Medical Center over the weekend. He could be released from the hospital as early as today and has expressed interest in attending the Yellow Jackets game this Friday night. [Read more...]

Wildcats prevail over Powell in 21-14 comeback

Isiah Jones Touchdown Catch

Sophomore running back Isiah Jones catches the second touchdown for the Oak Ridge Wildcats at Powell on Friday night.

POWELL—The Oak Ridge Wildcats beat the Powell Panthers in a thrilling 21-14 come-from-behind win on Friday night in Powell.

The Wildcats were down two touchdowns at halftime, but a fired-up football team returned in the second half, scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and prevented Powell from scoring again.

“I’m so proud of this football team right now,” Wildcats Coach Joe Gaddis said. “You find out a lot about yourself when you stare adversity in the face.”

In some ways, it resembled the season opener against Farragut, when Oak Ridge struggled to score in the first half but came alive in the second.

[Read more...]