Bears beat Siegel

Aspen Lewis Photography
Mt. Juliet Christian infielder Megan Blackwell tags out a Trousdale County runner.

MURFREESBORO — Mt. Juliet’s offense came alive in the middle innings Friday night as the Golden Bears won for the fourth time in the season’s opening week 5-3 at Siegel.

The Bears broke a 1-1 tie with two runs in the top of the fourth inning, one of those scores coming on Nelson Buckland’s RBI double. They tacked on two more in the top of the fifth, one of which came on Cade Hoppe’s RBI single, which brought in John Dyer.

Those insurance scores paid off when Siegel got them back in the bottom half off starter Aidan Raines.

Raines pitched the first five innings to win his first decision. The senior allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and no walks while striking out seven.

Warren Lee pitched an uneventful sixth before Brayden Osborne got his third save with two strikeouts in the seventh.

The teams traded scores in the first inning. Dalton Earheart doubled in Mt. Juliet’s run.

Hoppe and Dyer doubled as each had three of Mt. Juliet’s 11 hits.

Mt. Juliet’s opener of a District 9-AAA series with with visiting Portland for Tuesday was postponed. A makeup date will be announced later. The teams were also set to meet at 7 p.m Wednesday at Portland.

Goodpasture tallies late to outscore Saints 11-6

MADISON — Goodpasture built a big lead in the early innings and broke a tie in the bottom of the sixth as the Cougars dealt the Saints a Middle Region District 2-A 11-6 loss Friday.

Mt. Juliet Christian fell behind 4-0 before a five-run fourth put the Saints in front. Goodpasture went back in front with two in the bottom of the fourth before MJCA tied the game in the sixth.

But Goodpasture, coached by former Mt. Juliet coach Jim Carter, scored five times in the bottom of the sixth to hand the loss to Caylor Bates, the second of three pitchers. He, starter Cole Alsup and Camden Burgess, who recorded the final two outs, gave up nine hits while the Saints committed three errors as the slipped to 1-2 in the week-old season.

Mt. Juliet Christian collected six hits, including two singles and a run batted in by Dawson Perry. Dylan Boehm made the most of his production with a sacrifice fly and a two-run single. Tyler Blais delivered a two-run double and Alsup and Bates a single each.

The Saints were coming off a 12-11 loss at Middle Tennessee Christian in Murfreesboro on Thursday.

MTCS led 9-2 as the Saints committed seven errors.

Perry drove in three Saints scores on four hits while Burgess went 3-for-5. Noah Michael doubled and singled.

Mt. Juliet Christian will play host to district rival Nashville Christian at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Staff Reports

Bears go down swinging to Bearden

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet senior center Isaac Stephens drives down the side of the lane for a fourth-quarter basket.

MURFREESBORO — Mt. Juliet used the toughness and tenaciousness which have been trademarks throughout coach Troy Allen’s tenure to stay close to Bearden for three quarters in the Golden Bears’ first-ever state tournament game Wednesday afternoon at Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center.

But the Bulldogs’ talent took over in the fourth as the Knoxvillians advanced to the semifinals with a 61-43 win in a game which was closer than the final score.

Bearden scored the game’s first seven points as the Bulldogs’ fullcourt man defense kept the guards from getting open.

But the Bears battled back by giving the ball to big man Isaac Stephens in the high post. The 6-foot-7 senior drove to the basket for 14 points before fouling out.

“We wanted to touch (Stephens),” Allen said. “He’s obviously become a great player. We try to touch him and space out. They did a really nice job guarding Isaac one on one and staying home. There wasn’t a lot of looks. He had to score because they were staying home on our shooters. Kudos to them. They did a nice job of that.”

But Bearden guards Trent Stephney (19 points) and Jacques Glover (10) proved too much for the Bears. Big man Drew Pember (6-8) finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, many down the stretch as the Bulldogs advanced to Friday’s semis with a 38-1 record where they lost to Memphis East.

Mt. Juliet’s season ended at 27-8.

But the Bears didn’t go quietly as they battled to within 9-7 at the first-quarter break and 25-21 at halftime despite an 11-1 deficit in fouls called at one point of the first half.“We want to be physical. I’ll be the last one to ever complain about officials,” Allen said. “I’ll never use anything as an excuse. They did fine. The guys adjusted. We did a nice job the first half hanging in there in foul trouble. Our coaches did a good job getting guys in and out when they had two fouls. We didn’t have anybody with three fouls. They played smart with two fouls. It’s not the time to sit people with two fouls and get through the half. You can lose the game right there and we weren’t going to lose the game that way.”

Mt. Juliet finally took the lead midway through the third quarter when guard Will Pruitt passed up a rare open three-pointer to drive to the basket and eventually score on a tip-in for a 26-25 Bear edge.

“I wanted (Pruitt) to shoot it and he went ahead and made the two and Jordan (Lockridge) hit some threes late,” Allen said. “We struggled getting open from three. They were really focused on certain people, (Gavin) Wilson and Jordan and Will, not letting them get open from three. They were not getting any easy looks, and we usually get a few with a couple of things we run.”

The lead didn’t last long as Glover scored on the other side.

Pruitt came back with a driving layup for a 28-27 Mt. Juliet edge at the midway mark of the period.

Pember sank a three-pointer from the top of the key to put Bearden back in front to stay as the Bulldogs embarked on a 10-0 run despite Stephens blocking a Pember dunk attempt at the third-quarter buzzer.

With the game getting out of hand, senior guard Lockridge took some deep threes and hit three on his way to 13 points.

Pruitt added eight points while Bryan Aiken and Isaac Thompson each threw in three and Riggs Abner two on a putback.

Lockridge, Stephens and reserve forward Bailey Bryant donned the Bears jersey for the final time after setting new program standards with four straight sectionals, a first-ever district championship and first trip to state. Their leadership was key to Mt. Juliet getting off the deck after falling behind early, Allen said.

“I’ve been watching them play since they were little kids at camp,” Allen said. “Just the way they’ve grown up and become men. It’s not an easy thing to go through what we do and they’d be the first to tell you it’s not for everybody. Their leadership and the way they’ve grown into men right in front of my eyes, that’s why we were able to hang in.

“Our other senior who’s not in (the interview room) should be in here because he means just as much as these guys. We’ve got three pretty good men playing for us.”

“It is a big accomplishment,” Lockridge said. “Me and Isaac, we’ve been working since freshman year, we’ve been in the weight room, been in the gym working hard all the time. We just tried to get our game better and finally got over that hump.”

Stephens’ growth spurt has made him as big a force in the post as anyone around.

“I haven’t always been strong,” said Stephens, who added he’s received interest from Martin Methodist and some junior colleges. “I’ve gotten hurt a couple of times. Coming back from that, getting into the gym, working, getting stronger has helped me.”

Allen has built a no-frills, blue-collar built on physicality and defense. It’s not always pretty, but the Bears have become consistent winners under the Nashville native, who’s most likely the program’s winningest coach.

“The future is bright,” Allen said. “We have a system we believe in, especially defensively. Offensively, we’ll tweak it and do what we need to do. To play for Mt. Juliet, you have to be dedicated and you got to be pretty smart because we’re not going to do the same thing every game. We had four defenses we could have used tonight, and they’re man-to-man-based. We tweak it.

“It’s not an easy place to play, and I don’t want it to be.”

Allen, in his 13th season, came to Mt. Juliet from a successful run at Hillsboro. Tim Bell, an MJHS graduate who enjoyed a run of success during a long tenure as Golden Bear coach, said people advised him when he took the boys’ position it was a dead-end job next to the ultra-successful girls’ program.

“I got a couple of calls like that when I took it, from coaches wondering why I was leaving,” Allen said. “First of all, I knew who the principal was there (Mel Brown). He called me and I trust that man with everything. I knew if he wanted me there I needed to look at it and take a serious look at it.

“It’s the best decision I’ve made in my life. We were having success at Hillsboro. We had built a program there. But for my family and living in Mt. Juliet, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.”

By Andy Reed

Hoops4Hope donates funds

Xavier Smith • Mt. Juliet News
The MJ4Hope foundation presented a check Thursday at the Mt. Juliet branch of Bank of Tennessee to the beneficiaries of the organization’s fourth annual Hoops4Hope event. Bank of Tennessee market president Jason Loggins and MJ4Hope executive director Amy Breedlove presented the check to Justin West and his family.

The MJ4Hope foundation presented a check Thursday to the beneficiary of this year’s Hoops for Hope event held earlier this month.

Bank of Tennessee market president Jason Loggins and MJ4Hope executive director Amy Breedlove presented the check to Justin West and his family.

More than 150 people attended the event, which raised $8,000. Team Zaden beat Team Savannah in a very close game, according to Breedlove.

The event’s coaches were Jackie Stanton and Bobby Pennington, past MJ4Hope recipients.

“I was overwhelmed by the turnout and support we had for this year’s Hoops for Hope event,” Breedlove said.

The next event is the MJ4Hope Golf Tournament on Aug. 11, and MJ4Hope Halloween 5K on Oct. 27 at Charlie Daniels Park.

For more information, visit

By Xavier Smith

County OKs school budget

The Wilson County Commission approved a Wilson County Schools budget amendment Monday, as well as several other items of business during its monthly meeting.

The group approved $335,000 to repair two sections of roofing at the school district’s new central office on Harding Drive after district leaders originally hoped to delay the project for three to five years.

Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall said the district needed to expedite the roofing project due to leaks caused by recent rain and sections of the roof being out of warranty.

The roofing areas cover the Wilson County Adult High School section and board of education room.

The funds will come from the district’s general purpose school fund.

The group also approved $140,000 for the county’s PEG channel, which will broadcast on YouTube and television channels. The channel will feature educational videos about government, county events and information and more, according to Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto.

Commissioners also honored retiring Mt. Juliet High School principal Mel Brown and the Wilson County Ag Extension office.

Brown announced his retirement earlier this year after 14 years as the school’s leader and 45 years in education.

Brown started his education career at Two Rivers High School in 1966. In 1972, he moved to McGavock High School, where he also served as assistant football coach and head baseball coach after several Metro Nashville schools closed.

As head baseball coach, he amassed 582 wins, three Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association state championships, three TSSAA state runner-ups, seven “coach of the year” honors and averaged 29 wins per season. The McGavock High School baseball field is named “Mel Brown Field” in his honor.

Brown served as assistant principal at Hillsboro High School from 1992-96 and Lebanon High School during the 2003-2004 school year before he was appointed principal at Mt. Juliet High School.

March is Extension Month in Tennessee, which recognizes the national educational program supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wilson County 4-H, a program of the agriculture extension, has 2,124 members, including 75 participants on judging and competitive teams, and 209 in special project groups.

Wilson County’s 4-H program includes archery, cooking club, sewing club, livestock group, horse group, honor club, after-school groups, home-school groups and more.

Commissioners also voted to retain current Wilson County attorney Mike Jennings in the same role. Jennings’ compensation will be just less than $87,000.

By Xavier Smith

Bears blank Central Magnet 1-0 behind Hoppe

MURFREESBORO — Cade Hoppe pitched six shutout innings and received only a sixth-inning run in Mt. Juliet’s 1-0 season-opening win over Murfreesboro Central Magnet at Starplex on Monday night.

Hoppe scattered four hits and two walks while striking out 11. Brayden Osborne struck out the side in the seventh for the save.

Dalton Earheart doubled in the Mt. Juliet sixth inning and scored on John Dyer’s single.

Mt. Juliet will play host to Science Hill on Wednesday night with a start time of 6 p.m. But due to the basketball team’s 2:45 p.m. game against Bearden in the state tournament in Murfreesboro, coach Mark Purvis said he might move the start of the game to 7, but is concerned about the cold weather.

Staff Reports

Young racer Chase star on track, TV commercial

BA Imagery
Mt. Juliet racer Chase Johnson, who last year at 11 became the youngest winner in the 60-year history of Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway, will be chasing more wins this season.

The record-breaking accomplishments of young Mt. Juliet racer Chase Johnson – combined with his off-track poise and personality – landed him a role in a TV commercial and could lead to even bigger things down the road.

Chase currently appears in a Kia commercial that airs in Middle Tennessee markets, and there are plans for him to make another commercial once the racing season starts that will include some race-action footage.

“Chase is a fine young man and we’re happy and proud to be associated with him,” says Kia executive Chris Bostick, who operates dealerships at Hickory Hollow, Rivergate and Franklin.

In addition to making Chase the star of its commercials, Kia will also sponsor his race car this season as he chases a championship at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway.

“Was it fun? Absolutely,” says Chase, a sixth-grader at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy who just turned 12.

“People have been coming up to me and saying, ‘Was that you on TV …?’ ”

Chase last season became the youngest winner in the Speedway’s 60-year history, capturing two victories in the Pro Modified division. He won Rookie of the Year and finished a close second in the championship standings after a blown engine in the season finale dashed his title hopes.

“It was a devastating note to end the season on,” Chase says. “Maybe we can make up for it this year. Our goal is to win the championship.”

“It makes me so happy to see things going his way like this,” says Chase’s dad Andy, a former Fairgrounds track champion. “It’s what he’s wanted to do all his life, and he’s worked hard to make it happen. Having the Kia sponsorship will be a big help this season.”

It all began with a day at the lake.

Andy and Chase were boating on Percy Priest Lake one afternoon when they ran into Bostick and struck up a conversation.

Bostick was impressed by Chase, and when he learned about his racing exploits decided to feature him in a TV commercial.

“Chase is years beyond his age in terms of his professionalism and commitment to his goal,” Bostick says. “He’s very polite and respectful and makes good grades in school. He’s a great representative for us.”

The commercial was shot at the Kia Rivergate dealership. It runs less than one minute, but took about two hours to shoot.

“It was fun to do,” Chase says. “I didn’t feel nervous at all.”

In addition to thanking his new sponsor Kia, Chase ticks off the names of several others he says have played major roles in his racing success, starting with his dad, stepmom Allison and grandparents Peggy and Richard Johnson. Then he adds crew members Randy Weaver, Bubba Reed, Jason Brewer and Tommy Miller.

He also includes track operator Tony Formosa on the list. Formosa stepped up and saved the track a few years ago when it was on the verge of demolition as part of a Fairgrounds “revitalization” push.

“I’ve had a lot of help from a lot of people,” Chase says. “I wouldn’t be in this position without them.”

“He had a good season last year, learned a lot, and I’m proud of him,” says Andy, who won the Late Model title in 2009 and retired from driving in order to devote more time to his son’s racing efforts.

“We look forward to this year, and to the years to come.”

Last spring, as he prepared for his first season of racing full-bodied stock cars, Chase said he knew what some veteran drivers were thinking:

“They think I’m a kid in a driver’s suit.”

Now they know that the kid’s not kidding around.

By Larry Woody 


State loss has Lady Bears looking ahead

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet center Emma Palmer (45) goes up for a fourth-quarter offensive rebound against a pair of Houston defenders.

MURFREESBORO — Mt. Juliet’s journey through the 2017-18 season came to an end with last week’s 70-54 loss to Houston in the girls’ state tournament at Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center.

But the experience gained over the last few weeks will be invaluable as the senior-free Lady Bears move forward.

Mt. Juliet jumped to a 7-0 lead and the Lady Bears led the entire first quarter until a steal by Madison Griggs led to a layup by Destinee Wells to put Houston ahead 18-16 at the buzzer.

That was part of a 10-0 Lady Mustang run, which was a subset of Houston’s 22-2 spurt which saw the Germantown visitors go up 33-18 during the second quarter.

Mt. Juliet trimmed the margin to 37-27 by halftime and later climbed to within 12 on two occasions after falling behind by 22.

“They were hot in the first half,” Mt. Juliet coach Chris Fryer said. “We scored 27 points before the half, which is usually a pretty good night. But they had 37 and they had really shot the ball well. I hadn’t seen them shoot from the perimeter like that in any of the films that I had watched… They didn’t hit early. But once they got hot, everybody got hot.

“That was discouraging to play that well in the first half and be behind by 10.”

Houston’s quickness led to 15 Lady Bears turnovers, which led to nine more shots and seven more baskets for the Lady Mustangs, who were led by Jayla Hemingway’s 26 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Wells scored 17 and passed for four assists as HHS returned to Friday’s semifinal with a 27-5 record.

“It’s something I got to learn from,” Mt. Juliet sophomore point guard Nevaeh Majors said. “I got a lot of mine (passes) deflected, so I’m going to grow over the summer and improve for next season because we’re going to face it again and I want to make sure I can handle it next time.”

“We knew coming over here we’d be playing against some really good athletes,” Fryer said. “They’ve got some quickness and some super-quick hands. Hemingway is tough to guard, tough to handle and very physical. They’re a very physical basketball team. It may not look like it sometimes on film, but their physicality is pretty good.

“Our kids did a good job of hanging in there. But right now, we need to grow and mature to be able to handle a team like that.”

Houston didn’t have a consistent answer for sophomore center Emma Palmer, who led all scorers with 27 points. Tondrianna Davis took down 10 rebounds as she, Shelby Jane Petty and Nevaeh Majors each scored seven. Ryleigh Osborne opened the game with a 3-pointer and Aaliyah Frazier got the bounce on a second-half triple as Mt. Juliet finished a 24-9 season.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster for next year,” Palmer said. “Our team has a better chance now that we’ve been here of getting back here next year.”

“We’re hoping we’ve planted a seed in their heads of wanting to get back to the state tournament,” Fryer said following the conclusion of his 20th season and ninth state tourney. “Everybody’s going to be returning next year. We’ve had this incident happen in the past with our teams. In ’05 we won a championship after being beat in ’03. We’re hoping our kids are hungry and know how important our offseason conditioning program is going to be and how important it’s going to be to come over here and be more physical and to be able to handle some of the situations we didn’t handle so well tonight.”

Fryer indicated playing in the state with an underclass roster is key to future success.

“What you don’t want to do is ending up getting over here with a bunch of seniors who’ve never been,” Fryer said. “It’s good that our girls are young and they’re going to have more opportunities and more chances. I’ve seen teams battle and they finally get over here with a senior group. Daniel Boone’s a good example (a 56-27 loser to unbeaten Bradley Central). They’re a good basketball team and they’re senior-dominated. Well, it gets too late when you’re seniors. You need to come over here and experience it so it doesn’t overwhelm you. I didn’t think our girls were overwhelmed by the environment. They played their basketball game, just tonight it wasn’t good enough to win.”

By Andy Reed

Board eyes testing athletes

The Wilson County Board of Education took the first step last week in establishing a random drug test program for high school student athletes and participants in extracurricular activities.

The group approved a policy change on first reading that would establish a committee to develop random drug test procedures for high school athletes and participants in extracurricular activities, which would be reviewed by the district’s attorney before final approval from the board.

Chuck Whitlock, Wilson County Schools health services supervisor, said the district has discussed a random drug test policy for about two years and was born from concerns from high school administrators.

“We’ve not seen a significant uptick in drug use or possession on campus, but there is concern for the safety of our kids outside of school,” Whitlock said. “The national opioid crisis is highlighted in the news almost daily, and the sad truth is that Tennessee is one of the worst states in the nation regarding opioid use.”

Whitlock noted opioid deaths in Tennessee have more than doubled in the last five years, but said the policy is not strictly about opioids.

“Beyond opioids, the other usual suspects in the world of illicit drugs can still be found in our communities,” he said.

Whitlock said the district and high school administrators are determined to help three kinds of students: students that don’t use or would never use illicit drugs; students that may be on the fence regarding illicit drug use; and students who have initiated illicit drug use.

No student who tests positive under the random drug test program would be suspended or expelled from school solely as the result of a positive test.

The district would like to have random drug testing policy and procedures in place prior to the 2018-2019 school year, but there remains a chance it would not be in place, according to Whitlock.

“The policy must pass the second reading and then the committee has the supporting procedures to develop. Once the procedures are developed, our attorney needs to time to review and then the board needs to approve,” Whitlock said. “There’s a lot to do and a small window.”

By Xavier Smith

Lady Bears battle Houston in state quarterfinals

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
A jubilent Mt. Juliet team heads off the floor following a state tournament-clinching win over Brentwood.

Mt. Juliet drew Houston for the final game of the Class AAA state quarterfinal round to be played at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday at Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center in Murfreesboro.

A blind draw was held Sunday afternoon to place the eight sectional winners from Saturday night.

Mt. Juliet, in the state for the 16th time since 1977 and ninth under 20-year coach Chris Fryer, will bring a 24-8 record to Murphy Center while Houston, from the Memphis suburb of Germantown, is 26-5.

The winner will face either Daniel Boone (30-4) or Bradley Central (32-0) at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The championship game is set for 1 p.m. Saturday with Riverdale (33-1), Ravenwood (21-11), Arlington (27-7) and Bearden (28-7) in the other bracket.

MJ’s young team uses old formula to return to state

MT. JULIET — With a young group of girls, Mt. Juliet used a tried-and-true formula to beat Brentwood 63-55 in Saturday night’s sectional to advance to the Lady Bears’ 16th state tournament.

Most of the Lady Bears’ state tournament teams, especially the eight previous trips under coach Chris Fryer, have revolved around dominant post players, and this was no exception as Emma Palmer poured in 34 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Mt. Juliet punched its ticket to state with a 23-8 record.

“(Palmer) dominated tonight,” Fryer said. “One of her better outings. She cane to play. She finished around the basket and our kids did a good job getting her the ball.”

The Lady Bears led 14-10 following the first quarter, 30-20 at halftime and 64-33 through three periods. Brentwood outscored Mt. Juliet 22-17 in the fourth as the home team hit just half of its 32 free throws for the game. But it was enough to send the Lady Bruins home for the season at 23-10.

“In the first half, they played us man and we were able to get the ball to (Palmer),” Fryer said. “Then they went to a 2-3 zone and we hit a few threes…and they went back man.”

Shelby Petty popped in a pair of three-pointers on her way to 10 points while Ryleigh Osborne had the other en route to five. Nevaeh Majors supplied six points and seven assists while Tondrianna Davis and Aaliyah Frazier each finished with four.

A draw will be held Sunday afternoon to determine the pairings for the state, which will tip off Wednesday at Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center.

“We’re excited for the kids to get to experience it because they’re so young,” Fryer said.

Lady Bears take Region 5-AAA crown

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet’s girls hold their newly-won Region 5-AAA championship plaque after defeating Lebanon last week.

MT. JULIET — With no seniors, Mt. Juliet claimed a trophy many of its predecessors also captured – the Region 5-AAA championship.

The Lady Bears kept Lebanon at bay 41-33 before a bi-partisan crowd Wednesday night.

“Region championships are awful hard to come by, so we’re real proud of this,” Mt. Juliet coach Chris Fryer said. “Our kids did a real good job. You got to tip your hat to Lebanon. They played really well. Both of know the most important game is going to be on Saturday.”

The first quarter was back-and-forth, though Lebanon’s only lead was 8-6 on an inside basket by Lindsey Freeman.

Point guard Nevaeh Majors, who rarely shoots three-pointers, drained a triple as the first quarter expired to lift the Lady Bears to an 11-8 lead. Her steal and layup gave Mt. Juliet a five-point lead early in the second period and Lebanon was in catch-up mode the rest of the night. Majors, who earned tournament most valuable player honors, knocked down another triple late in the half.

By Andy Reed

At long last! Bears barge into state

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
A smiling Mt. Juliet girls’ coach Chris Fryer hugs boys’ coach Troy Allen as Golden Bear assistant Michael Berardi celebrates after MJHS punches its first-ever ticket to the state tournament, joining Fryer’s Lady Bears.

FRANKLIN — In 1986, Mt. Juliet’s girls made one of their 16 trips to the state tournament while the boys went 0-for-the season.

Thirty-two years and seven fruitless sectional trips later, the Golden Bears finally joined their girls among the final eight, punching their ticket to Murfreesboro by punching out Franklin 58-46 before a packed house in a TSSAA sectional Monday night.

“Our theme for the last three or four days is it’s time to knock the door down,” said Troy Allen, in his 13th season as Mt. Juliet coach. “Not many people have done what we’ve done the last four years (four straight sectionals). Getting to this game is special, special to be a part of. It’s something they’ll remember the rest of their lives. I was fortunate enough to play in three (with David Lipscomb in the ‘80s) and I’ll never forget them. This one was epic.”

Of the four previous sectionals under Allen, all on the road, this one was by far the loudest and most jam-packed.

“They have great crowds and I thought our crowd got behind us tonight,” Allen said.

The Bears established their inside game early on as big man Isaac Stephens cleared the glass and scored eight of his 17 points during the first quarter, which ended with an 11-7 Golden Bear lead.

“We wanted to get paint points,” Allen said. “We talked to my buddy, Coach (Jeremy) Moore at LaVergne, and he said to tell your bigs every shot is a set play to them. I tried to get that ingrained in their mind. Every time we threw it up there, it was a set play for the big guys. Second half especially, we really started going inside.”

Franklin stayed in the game with the long ball as a triple by Reese Glover drew the Rebels within a point before Reed Kemp scored from underneath to put the home team in front 12-11.

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet guard Gavin Wilson fires one of his six three-pointers, this one during the second half, from the corner.

But Gavin Wilson caught fire with the first of his six three-pointers, mostly from the corner, to put Mt. Juliet in front 14-12. He made it back-to-back for a five-point lead and Franklin never led again.

“(Wilson’s) a special shooter,” Allen said. “He’s got a lot of confidence. He’s not afraid to miss a shot and take the next one. He hit some huge ones.”

After two free throws by Glover tied the score, Wilson swished the go-ahead three from the top of the circle for a 20-17 lead and the Bears led the rest of the way.

Mt. Juliet, playing some four-corner offense to utilize the entire front court, milked the final minute of the first half before freshman post Riggs Abner, tipped in a miss for a 25-20 halftime lead.

“Riggs is fearless,” Allen said. “He’s a freshman. He’s going to be a great player. It’s why we brought him up this year. He’s played varsity all year long. He’s had some games where he’s barely played, but we’re not afraid to play him.”

The Bears continued to patiently execute its offense in the third quarter to keep the lead. Another Wilson three-pointer made it 37-30 going into the fourth quarter.

Mt. Juliet re-established Stephens down low after spreading the floor as the big man scored six down the stretch as the Bears improved to 27-7 for the season.

Wilson scored 18 points while point guard Jordan Lockridge drained a pair of threes and all four free throws in the fourth quarter for his 10. Abner, Will Pruitt and big man Bryan Aiken each finished with four.

Golver scored 16 points while Evan Sigler sank five triples of his own for 15 as Franklin, coached by longtime Beech coach Darrin Joines, finished a 28-6 season, one win short of its first state trip since winning it all in 1989.

“I pulled out my old play cards (against Joines’ Beech teams), I watched three of four old Beech games,” Allen said. “We’re good friends. We compete hard against each other. It’s one thing knowing how you want to attack, but it’s another thing for your players to understand how it is because it’s something different. We practiced for three days and sort of practiced this morning, and we got better and better at it.”

The state meeting for coaches was held Tuesday in Murfreesboro to finalize the brackets for the state tournament, which will tip off March 14 at Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center.

“I could care less who we play,” Allen said. “We’re going to enjoy this. It’s a 10-day celebration to me. We get 10 extra days of practice. We’re going to have a good time. We’re going to work hard like we do. We’re going to do a lot of fun things. We’re going to practice at colleges. We’re going to have dinners.

“We’re going to enjoy this.”

By Andy Reed

Golden Bears make history with first district title

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
For the first time ever, Mt. Juliet’s boys pose with a district championship plaque after defeating Lebanon for the crown.

HENDERSONVILLE — Mt. Juliet’s boys made history last week by defeating defending District 9-AAA champion Lebanon 63-50 for the Golden Bears’ first-ever district crown, completing an MJ sweep after the Lady Bears won the night before.

“It was a great night for the guys and all the guys who played before,” said Troy Allen, whose 13th year at Mt. Juliet was interrupted by a mid-season hernia operation, costing him several games on the bench. “We had a great week of practice, a great week of the tournament. We were locked in.”

The first half was a battle with Lebanon leading 14-12 at the first-quarter break. Mt. Juliet was up 30-26 going into halftime before outscoring the Blue Devils 15-9 in the third period for a 45-35 margin. The fourth quarter went no better for LHS, which trailed as much as 56-37.

“Third quarter, we had some turnovers, had some illegals screens, things of that nature that changed the complexion of the game,” Lebanon coach Jim McDowell said. “Mt. Juliet did a good job of taking away some of the things we wanted to do.

“In the first half, we had some momentum and (Gavin) Wilson hit some big shots when we didn’t do a god job of guarding him. They did a good job of getting the lead, and when they did, they do a good job of setting the tempo.”

Both teams will be at home for first-round Region 5-AAA action at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Golden Bears will welcome Kenwood while the Blue Devils entertain Rossview at Campbell Brandon Gym/Hester Gibbs Court. Winners will advance to semifinal action next Tuesday at Northeast.

Noah Mulaski’s steal and layup to Lebanon in front 14-12 with over a minute left in the first quarter, a margin which lasted into the second.

Two Jordan Lockridge free throws brought the Golden Bears into a 14-14 tie and two from the line by Isaac Stephens put Mt. Juliet in front.

Mulaski’s three-point play drew the Devils into a 20-20 tie. Zion Logue’s putback put Lebanon back in front and a long two-pointer by Mulaski opened a four-point spread.

But Mt. Juliet closed the first half with an 8-2 run. A Gavin Wilson three-pointer put the Bears in front 26-24 and his two free throws made it a four-point spread. Mulaski’s driving layup sliced the difference to two going into the break.

Another Logue layup brought the Blue Devils within 36-34 before Mt. Juliet closed the quarter with 9-1 run to take control. Lockridge hit his first eight free throws of the fourth period to give the Golden Bears breathing room.

Wilson led Mt. Juliet with 22 points from the backcourt, including two threes. Lockridge knocked down 9 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter on his way to 16 while Stephens finished with 15. Tournament most valuable player Will Pruitt put in four and J.C. Crawford, Bryan Aiken and Riggs Abner two each.

Mulaski led Lebanon with 24 points while Gaven Reasonover added eight, including a pair of threes. Logue scored six, Jeremiah Hastings five, Malcolm Logue two and Eddie Jackson a free throw.

“Isaac Stephens did a pretty good job on (Jackson), beat him to his spots and trying to limit his touches,” Allen said.

Top-seed Mt. Juliet rolls to region win

MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet enjoyed the fruit of being a No. 1 seed by taking out Kenwood with some ease 58-38 in the opening round of the Region 5-AAA tournament Saturday night.

The Golden Bears, who have twice knocked off a No. 1 as a No. 4 during coach Troy Allen’s 13 seasons, led 16-7 following the first quarter, 29-18 at halftime and 43-28 through three periods as they moved into Tuesday’s semifinal against West Creek, which knocked out Gallatin 54-42, at Northeast.

“I never felt bad about (tonight’s game), but I was wanting to put them away and we never could until late,” Allen said.

Big man Isaac Stephens scored 22 points to lead Mt. Juliet while Jordan Lockridge notched nine, Gavin Wilson seven, Bryan Aiken six, Will Pruitt five, Reggie Grimes four and Gage Wells two.

Kenwood’s season ended at 13-12.

Wildcats knocked off by Northeast

CLARKSVILLE — Wilson Central hung within striking distance of District 10-AAA champion Northeast until the defending Region 5-AAA champion Eagles pulled away in the fourth quarter of a 55-39 win over Wilson Central in the opening round of the regional Saturday night.

Starting some 20 minutes late due to a tardy official, Northeast led 12-10 following the first quarter, 27-19 at halftime and 35-27 going into the fourth before Alec Kegler connected on eight fourth-quarter free throws and 12 points in all down the stretch as the Eagles advanced with a 26-5 record to Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal with Lebanon on their floor.

Kegler totaled 28  points while Jaleel Fletcher finished with 19, including two first-half three-pointers and eight during the second quarter.

Gavin Johnson, possibly the only Wildcat to play for all three of Wilson Central’s three head coaches – Troy Bond, Tyler Brown and current coach Chris Carney – scored 11 points in his WCHS finale. Kyzick Schweppe sank three first-half three-pointers while Kito Aruh added eight, twin Kene Aruh six in the second half, Daniel Jackson four in the fourth and Naz Czeskleba a first-period free throw as Central ended a 13-18 season.

Staff Reports

A thriller in the Cave

A determined Beech team got in the first shots against a Lady Bear team struggling to his its shots as the Lady Buccaneers built a 20-12 lead during the second quarter.

But the Lady Bears battled back with a three-pointer by Shelby Petty putting them ahead for the first time 25-23 2:11 before halftime. After Mia Dean’s 16-footer tied the score, Tondrianna Davis dropped in a three-point bomb to put Mt. Juliet up 28-25 at halftime.

The Lady Bears led 40-29 late in the third quarter before Beech reeled off seven straight to get back in the game. A putback by the quick Shiya Hoosier put the Lady Bucs back in the lead 45-44 with 2;40 to play.

A triple by Petty swung the lead back to Mt. Juliet 47-45 with just over a minute left. Dean drained a trey at :42 to put Beech back up 48-47.

Mt. Juliet missed a pair of front ends of one-and-ones. But Petty found Palmer on a 2-on-1 with seven seconds left for the Lady Bear lead. Beech didn’t take a timeout, electing to continue play with Kennedy Powell missing a runner at the buzzer to send MJ to two more games.

“We were fortunate,” Mt. Juliet coach Chris Fryer said. “There were some times we played pretty well, too.

“We shot too many threes early on in the game. We were rushing our shots, and that happens at tournament time. Once we settled in and evened the score back up and even had a little lead at halftime, not playing some of our best basketball…

When you get in tournament play, it’s survive and advance and there are people who are desperate to get a win. Petty’s three was a big bucket there late and Emma’s shot to finish off. Two good plays (by Petty) that led to us getting a win.”

The Lady Bears, who normally win in more methodical fashion, will face Lebanon with a 22-8 record while the gritty Lady Bucs went down swinging at 24-9.

Palmer led the Lady Bears with 17 points and 12 rebounds while point guard Nevaeh Majors had 12 on short pullup jumpers in the lane to go with five assists. Petty poured in three triples for her nine points while Davis drained two threes for her six and Ryleigh Osborne five.

J.C. Swafford led the Lady Buccaneers with 14 points while Powell and Hoosier each adding 11. Lebanon and Central battled to a low-scoring 15-15 halftime draw before the Devilettes scored the first 13 points of the second half to take command and advance to the championship game with a 22-12 record.

For Lebanon, on a night of defense, former Lady Wildcat Lindsey Freeman did the most offensive damage with 16 points, including six during the third period. Maleigha Oldham and Allissa Mulaski each scored six, Christaney Brookshire five, Addie Grace Porter four and Aaryn Grace Lester three.

Nicole Brill led the Lady Wildcats with seven points while Sydnee Richetto and senior Taylor Tucker each finished with five, senior Julia Maki four and Jasmin Angel and senior Kenadhi Killebrew three apiece as Central slipped to a final 20-12 mark.

Brill’s putback broke a 2-2 tie and ultimately lifted the Lady Wildcats to a 4-2 first-quarter lead.

Freeman drove the lane in the final minute of a back-and-forth second quarter for the halftime tie.

By Andy Reed

Lady Bears jump into region final

George Page • Mt.. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet’s players jump for joy following a dramatic win over Beech in the Region 5-AAA semifinals Monday put the Lady Bears back into the sectional.

MT. JULIET — If the sectional isn’t the best night in high school basketball, the region semifinal is.

Emma Palmer’s basket in the final seconds lifted host Mt. Juliet to a thrilling 49-48 win over Beech before Lebanon knocked Wilson Central out of the Region 5-AAA tournament with a 40-27 triumph Monday night.

The results leave a Wilson County final at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Mt. Juliet as Lebanon visits in the first-ever meeting between the local rivals in the region championship. The winner will play host to a sectional while the loser travels to Williamson County at 7 p.m. Saturday. Ravenwood and Brentwood (which upset former Central coach John Wild’s Franklin team Monday night) will decide the Region 10 title Wednesday and provide Saturday’s opposition.

“Mt. Juliet’s been there a lot over the last 20 years while Lebanon hasn’t been there much, if at all,” third-year Lebanon coach Cory Barrett said. “We continue to write our own chapter about what this team is doing. We want to be in charge of that and not let somebody else finish our story.”

By Andy Reed

Wilson Central, Mt. Juliet reach 9-AAA final

George Page • Mt.. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet center Isaac Stephens (40) goes up for a fourth-quarter dunk over Wilson Central’s Kito Aruh during the Golden Bears’ 48-45 win over Wilson Central in the District 9-AAA semifinals last Saturday night at Hendersonville.
The 23-6 Golden Bears played for their first-ever district championship Tuesday night against defending champion Lebanon while the 13-16 Wildcats took on Gallatin for third place.
Mt. Juliet will host a Region 5-AAA game Saturday while Central goes on the road.

HENDERSONVILLE — A decade ago when Wilson Central and Mt. Juliet were two of the top programs in the state, a meeting for the District 9-AAA championship was common and expected.

Not so in 2017, but the No. 3-seed Lady Bears and No. 4 Lady Wildcats moved into Monday’s final as Mt. Juliet turned back No. 2 Lebanon 57-51 and, in a bizarre game in which neither team could get going offensively most of the night, Wilson Central stunned top-seeded Beech 29-25.

The Mt. Juliet/Lebanon game followed the regular-season script in which the Lady Bears built an early lead only to watch the Devilettes battle back. Only instead of Lebanon winning in overtime, Mt. Juliet rewrote the end of the script after Lindsey Freeman’s putback drew the Devilettes within 53-51. Emma Palmer scored a layup and a free throw as MJ advanced with an 18-8 record while LHS slipped to 20-10.

The Lady Bears led 17-10 following the first quarter, 30-20 at halftime and 40-37 through three periods. Lebanon never caught Mt. Juliet despite six points apiece by Freeman and Christaney Brookshire and five by Maleigha Oldham during the third quarter.

Shelby Petty pumped in a pair of fourth-quarter three-pointers as she knocked down nine points and Palmer eight to keep Mt. Juliet in front.

Palmer led the Lady Bears with 20 points while Petty’s 17 included four threes. Tondrianna Davis dropped in a pair of treys as she added eight. Ryleigh Osborne also sank two from downtown as she and Nevaeh Majors each scored six. Palmer also pulled down seven rebounds while Petty passed for seven assists.

Freeman fired in 15 points for Lebanon while Brookshire scored 10 of her 13 in the second half and Oldham hit a pair of threes on her way to 10. Jakeshia James added a late first-half spark as the Devilettes scored the last six points of the second period. She finished with five points while Anne Marie Heidebreicht and Alissa Mulaski each threw in a three and Aaryn Grace Lester two.

Wilson Central and Beech were in a 2-2 battle midway through the second quarter before the Lady Buccaneers, behind Mia Dean’s 10 points, opened a 12-5 halftime lead.

But Nicole Brill found the basket for eight points during the third quarter, putting Wilson Central in front on a pullup jumper from the baseline for a 17-16 edge with 45 seconds left Two free throws by Jana Claire Swafford swung the lead back to Beech 18-17 going into the fourth.

But what the game lacked in offensive execution was offset by the fourth-quarter drama as the Lady Wildcats may have reminded people they are the two-time defending district tournament champions. A drive and dish by Sydnee Richetto led to a Jasmin Angel basket for a 19-18 Lady ‘Cat edge 16 seconds into the fourth.

It took another five minutes-plus before Shyia Hoosier’s runner off the glass put Beech back in front, Brill’s putback gave Central the lead to stay 21-20. The Lady Wildcats extended the margin as Brill scored another six to finish with a game-high 14 points.

Angel added six, including a first-quarter basket, while Julia Maki made four free throws including two with 36.5 seconds left. Richetto threw in three and Taylor Tucker two late foul shots as Central improved to 19-10.

Hoosier had 11 to lead the Lady Bucs, who fell to 22-8.

9-AAA championship belongs to Lady Bears

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet’s players, coaches and managers hold up their figures signifying 12, the number of District 9-AAA championships won by the Lady Bears in coach Chris Fryer’s (right) 20 seasons, all since 2000. The program won countless more during the 20th Century with longtime assistant John Simms (middle back) part of most of those. Anna Sharpe (left) has been on staff for Fryer’s championships after playing for his predecessor, Tommy Martin.

HENDERSONVILLE — Mt. Juliet claimed another District 9-AAA championship Monday night, dethroning two-time champ Wilson Central 54-44.

The Lady Bears, who finished third during the regular season with no seniors, will bring a 19-8 record into a 7 p.m. home game against Kenwood on Friday night. Wilson Central will play host to Clarksville at the same time in the Region 5-AAA first round. The winners will advance to next Monday’s semifinals at Northeast.

Shelby Petty poured in a pair of three-pointers for Mt. Juliet during a first quarter which ended in a 9-9 tie. Center Emma Palmer came alive during the second as the Lady Bears built a 21-14 halftime lead. MJ was up 32-27 going into the fourth and survived the loss of Palmer, who fouled out with 2:48 to play, but not before leading all scorers with 23 points and rebounders with 11 to secure tournament most valuable player honors.

Petty poured in four triples and sank 7 of 10 free throws for 19 while Tondrianna Davis scored six. Nevaeh Majors finished with four points and five assists while Ryleigh Osborne added two free throws.

Point guard Kenadhi Killebrew led the Lady Wildcats with 13 points, including three triples, and six rebounds while former Lady Bear Julia Maki’s 13 points included a pair of treys. Nicole Brill added eight points while Sydnee Richetto scored six and Taylor Tucker five.

In addition to Palmer, teammates Petty and Majors; Central’s Tucker and Brill and Lebanon’s Lindsey Freeman were named to the all-tournament team.

Staff Reports

Borders, Kramer strike gold at state

FRANKLIN — Hunter Borders and Michael Kramer added more banners to the roof of Wilson Central’s auxiliary gym by winning the TSSAA state brackets for 113 and 285 pounds, respectively, last Saturday at Williamson County Expo Center.

Borders, a freshman, overtook Bartlett’s Gabe O’Callaghan 6-5 after trailing 5-2 with 10 seconds left and in the down position. But Borders was able to gain some position and reverse O’Callaghan on his back as time expired. Borders gained two back points and two points for the reversal.

In the second-to-last match of the night, Kramer squared off against Tullahoma’s Luke Champion. Like most of his matches during a dominant junior season, Kramer got the pin in the second period at 2:19 for the championship after finishing fourth and second his first two seasons.

In addition to a third-place finish in the state duals two weeks earlier, the Wildcats captured third place in the individual tournament with 148.5 points. Mt. Juliet was 13th with 64 points. Duals champion Cleveland took this title as well with 189.

Borders and Kramer were among five Wildcats who placed in the top six of their classes, joining Alex Pergande, third at 138 pounds; Grant Fetters, fourth at 106; and Cole Fort, sixth at 126.

Mt. Juliet’s Dylan Quinn was third at 160 and Nathan Walling fifth at 195.

Two Blue Devils placed for the first time ever. Lebanon’s Eli Clemmons was third at 106 and brother Evan was sixth at 195.

In Division II, Friendship Christian’s Hayden Alexander and Ryan Jackson, evoking memories of G.L. Waynick a decade ago before the program disbanded for a few years, finished fourth at 160 and 195, respectively.

In the girls’ tournament, Mt. Juliet’s Kaitlyn Lee was third at 125 while Wilson Central’s Bailey Hansen finished sixth at 215.

Staff Reports

Short-handed Central girls end Mt. Juliet’s 5-game win streak

MT. JULIET — With leading scorer Sydnee Richetto sidelined by the flu, other Lady Wildcats stepped up as Wilson Central put an abrupt end to Mt. Juliet’s five-game winning streak 54-42 in Friday night’s regular-season finale.

Former Lady Bear Julia Maki hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter to get Central off the mat. But Mt. Juliet center Emma Palmer kept the Lady Bears even with six in each of the first two periods. Maki’s third triple evened the count 11-11 at first-quarter’s end.

“(Maki) played really well and did a lot of nice things for us besides scoring,” said first-year Lady Wildcat coach Jeff Keller after registering his first win over the rival Lady Bears. “I was happy for her. I was happy for the team overall. Sometimes, you get unsung heroes like Kenadhi Killebrew and Taylor Tucker… Taylor is like a coach on the floor for us. She does a lot of things like that, stabilizes things. We are fortunate to have that type of leadership.”

Tucker took over in the second with a pair of threes for Central. But Shelby Petty ended the first half with a three to pull Mt. Juliet into a 22-22 tie.

The third quarter belonged to sophomore Nicole Brill, who had 10 of her 16 during the quarter as Central blew the game open to lead 42-29 late in the period.

“Nicole has steadily gotten better and better as the year’s gone on and she’s become a force for us and she’s very conscientious about her work ethic and trying to do things the right way.”

Tondrianna Davis drained back-to-back threes to end the third and begin the fourth to bring the Lady Bears within 42-35. But Brill converted a pass into a weakside layup and Central salted the win at the free-throw line, from where Brill sank 6 of 7 for the night.

Also helping the Lady Wildcat cause was point guard Kenadhi Killebrew, who kept a Central possession alive by coming from out of nowhere to grab offensive rebounds several times down the stretch as the visitors were trying to drain the clock. She finished with 11 boards.

Maki fired in four triples to lead the Lady Wildcats with 19 points while Tucker Added eight, Kellebrew seven and Sydney Dalton and Jasmin Angel two each as Central clinched the No. 4 seed in next week’s District 9-AAA tournament with an 8-6 league record, 17-10 for the regular season.

“Our girls lately have been playing well,” Keller said. “They showed a lot of poise tonight. It was an opportunity for them to have to set forward and step up, so it was a great win for us.”

Palmer finished with 16 points and six rebounds while Petty popped in a pair of threes on her way to 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. Davis drained three triples for her nine while Nevaeh Majors supplied six points and four assists.

Mt. Juliet had already clinched the No. 3 seed and finished at 9-5, 17-8 for the year. Both teams will play Thursday night in the district tournament at Hendersonville. The Lady Bears will face the host Lady Commandos at 6:30 p.m., followed by WilsonCentral against Station Camp at 8.

A Mt. Juliet win would mean a 4 p.m. semifinal game Saturday against either Gallatin or Lebanon. A Central victory would advance the Lady Wildcats to a 7 p.m. semifinal against either Portland or top-seed Beech.

First-round winners will also advance to the Region 5-AAA tournament.

By Andy Reed

Golden Bears work overtime for 9-AAA top seed


George Page • The Lebanon Democrat
Mt. Juliet coach Troy Allen grins as he looks at freshman Riggs Abner while the Golden Bears wrap up an overtime win over Wilson Central, clinching the District 9-AAA regular-season championship.

MT. JULIET — Wilson Central dominated the opening moments of Mt. Juliet’s senior night game Friday.

But it was the Golden Bears smiling by the end of the night as they overtook the Wildcats 52-45 in overtime to clinch the top seed in District 9-AAA.

Mt. Juliet concluded a 21-6 regular season and 11-3 in the district. Even if Gallatin maintained pace, the Golden Bears own the tiebreaker based on a season sweep of No. 3 Lebanon, which split with the Green Wave. MJ will take on No. 8 Portland at 7 p.m. Friday in the district tournament at Hendersonville.

Wilson Central slipped to a final 11-15, 6-8 mark and a No. 5 seed. Central’s loss clinched No. 4 for Hendersonville, setting up a first-round matchup between the Wildcats and host Commandos at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

The Wildcats led 14-9 following the first quarter and 21-19 at halftime before Mt. Juliet moved in front 35-32 going into the fourth. Regulation ended at 44-44.

Gavin Wilson sank three 3-pointers as he and big man Isaac Stephens each led Mt. Juliet with 15 points while senior Jordan Lockridge, a four-year varsity player, threw in 13. Will Pruitt put in five in the fourth quarter and overtime while Bryan Aiken finished with four.

Gavin Johnson’s 14 led Central while Kyzick Schweppe got the Wildcats going with half of his four three-pointers in the first quarter, finishing with 12 points. Kito Aruh tossed in 10 while Naz Czeskleba finished with five and Kene Aruh four.

Mt. Juliet and Wilson Central are in the same tournament bracket, meaning with first-round wins, they would meet again at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals as well as advance to the Region 5-AAA tournament.

Staff Reports

Wildcats are kings of Region 6-AAA

Wilson County sends 21 to state championships

Christopher Fetters • Submitted to The Democrat
The Region 6-AAA champion Wilson Central Wildcats

CLARKSVILLE — Wilson Central won the Region 6-AAA championship and Wilson County qualified 21 for the state meet during tournament action last weekend at Kenwood.

The Wildcats collected 240 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Beech’s 176. Mt. Juliet was fourth with 129 points and Lebanon seventh with 65.

Six Wildcats won their weight classes and qualified 11 for state. Mt. Juliet had one champion and will send seven to state while three Blue Devils will compete at the Williamson County Expo Center this coming weekend in Franklin.

Central heavyweight Michael Kramer pinned all three of his opponents to win outstanding upper weight wrestler and outstanding regional wrestler. His father, Wildcat coach John Kramer, was named region coach of the year.

A look at how Wilson County’s state qualifiers fared by weight class: The top four in each class advances.

106: 2. Eli Clemmons, Lebanon; 4. Grant Fetters, Wilson Central

113: 1. Hunter Borders, Wilson Central; 4. Dejaun Williamson, Lebanon

120: 3. T.H. Oakley, Wilson Central

126: 3. Cole Fort, Wilson Central

132: 4. Cullen Belcher, Wilson Central

138: 1. Alex Pergande, Wilson Central; 3. Donovan Perry, Mt. Juliet

152: 2. Levi Stone, Wilson Central; 3. Logan Dunphy, Mt. Juliet

160: 1. Dylan Quinn, Mt. Juliet

170: 1. Parker Bennett, Wilson Central; 3. Zack Garringer, Mt. Juliet

182: 1. Sinjin Noga, Wilson Central; 3. Chris Humphrey, Mt. Juliet

195: 2. Nathan Walling, Mt. Juliet; 3. Evan Clemmons, Lebanon

220: 1. Kolin Miller, Wilson Central; 3. Ryan Hirsh, Mt. Juliet

Heavyweight: 1. Michael Kramer, Wilson Central

Wilson Central dance team wins three national titles

Unprecedented accomplishment for talented team

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
The Wilson Central High School dance team won an unprecedented three national titles at the JAMFest Dance Super Nationals in St. Louis last weekend. The team includes seniors Anita Baluch, Emily Buckner, Logan Carter, Carly Ebersberger, Marissa Hawks, Aubrie King, Kylie Michael, Emily Molino, Zoe Rahmani, Maddie Spradley, juniors Erika Cervantes, Taylor Powers, Francesca Rodriquez, sophomores Kathleen Ammenheuser, Ella Burgess, Ashton Hamblen, Madison Hill Madison Treutel, and freshmen Kayla Cox, Riley Gilstrap, Bailey Rollins, Lillia Roning and Mia Stover.

The Wilson Central High School dance team won an unprecedented three national titles at the JAMFest Dance Super Nationals in St. Louis last weekend.

The Wildcats placed first in jazz, hip-hop and lyrical in the senior high school division of the competition.

“I cannot express how proud I am of these amazing 23 girls,” said coach Katie Stricklin. “They have continued to exceed my expectations all season long and this weekend they made history.”

Wilson Central won the national title in hip-hop in 2016, but this was the first time the team won the trifecta.

The three national titles are the latest, but most significant, titles for the dance team. Previously, the Wildcats won the Smoky Mountain Christmas Championships in Gatlinburg in December and the JAMfest in Nashville earlier this month.

The team includes seniors Anita Baluch, Emily Buckner, Logan Carter, Carly Ebersberger, Marissa Hawks, Aubrie King, Kylie Michael, Emily Molino, Zoe Rahmani, Maddie Spradley, juniors Erika Cervantes, Taylor Powers, Francesca Rodriquez, sophomores Kathleen Ammenheuser, Ella Burgess, Ashton Hamblen, Madison Hill Madison Treutel, and freshmen Kayla Cox, Riley Gilstrap, Bailey Rollins, Lillia Roning and Mia Stover.

The seniors competed in the lyrical category, while the entire team competed in the hip-hop and jazz competitions.

Stricklin coaches the team with Nicole Belsante and Courtney Weeks.

Tryouts for the 2018-19 team will be April 25-27 at Wilson Central High School. Student-athletes who wish to try out may email Weeks at for a tryout packet.

Staff Reports