Teen out of hospital after deadly bites

Mt. Juliet High School football player bit by tick, brown-recluse spider

 

Mason Greenwood

A Mt. Juliet teen is out of the hospital and back on the football field after a rare run-in with some deadly pests sidelined him earlier this week. 

Mason Greenwood, 17, a senior on the Mt. Juliet High School football team, had to go to Monroe Caroll Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt after he was bitten by a tick and a brown-recluse spider.

“The brown recluse can actually have a painless bite, so I don’t know when that happened,” said Greenwood. “The tick bite could have happened up to 21 days ago, so, really bad timing with both of them happening at the same time.”

Greenwood said he had a headache one day after practice, followed by a fever and chills. He went to a doctor after the symptoms persisted for a few days, and the doctor found a brown recluse bite.

“I got antibiotics for the brown-recluse bite, and I got worse and ended up in the ER,” said Greenwood.

The reason the antibiotics didn’t work is because the symptoms weren’t caused by the brown-recluse bite, but a tick bite Greenwood didn’t even know he’d gotten.

While Greenwood was in the hospital, the Mt. Juliet High School football team sent out a tweet asking for prayers for their teammate.

“No matter what color uniform you wear, or what kind of field you play on, we need your prayers for one of ours,” said the tweet. “Mason Greenwood, an upcoming senior for us, is at Vandy Children’s Hospital, and he’s struggling right now. It’s a combo of a brown recluse bite and tick-borne illness. Please pray for him and family.”

The tweet received more than 1,000 likes, 371 retweets and 62 replies wishing Greenwood prayers for a speedy recovery. Greenwood left the hospital Wednesday, and even showed up to football practice Thursday.

“He showed up in a very limited role, but the fact that he was on campus was great,” said Mt. Juliet football coach Trey Perry. “It just reminds you, not only of the connection that sports brings you to others, but also the power of prayer.”

Greenwood said the road to recovery has just begun, and it’s already been a difficult one. When he arrived at the hospital, doctors found his kidneys weren’t functioning correctly, and he had pretty severe inflammation in his heart.

“I was dangerously close to a heart attack at one point,” said Greenwood. “So, that was pretty scary.”

On June 22, Greenwood will go back in for an MRI, where he will start to get a feel for how long the recovery will take.

“If there’s scarring on my heart, this sounds crazy but, I’m going to be out for six months,” said Greenwood. “That’s worst case scenario, though. It could be two months, it could be three months, one month; I don’t know yet.”

Greenwood, of course, hopes the recovery is as short as possible.

“My hope is a month at the longest,” said Greenwood. “I really want to get back to playing. I can’t imagine not playing football.”

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Use your noodle to catch cats

 

The neon-yellow foam float danced on the surface, plunged under, bobbed up, and raced off across the lake.

In the front of the boat Chuck Campbell stomped down on the trolling motor and gave chase.

Minutes later we caught up to the bouncing, zig-zagging float and Chuck scooped it up in a landing net. On the other end of a five-foot line splashed a three-pound channel cat.

Chuck unhooked the fish and deposited it the live-well with a half-dozen others. He re-baited and tossed the foam noodle overboard, where several others drifted in the breeze.

Chuck Campbell brings in a catfish at the end of a noodle.

It was late May and the catfish were biting on Old Hickory Lake.

Specifically they were biting on noodles – a float underneath which a baited hook dangles.

Originally the method was known as “jug fishing,” because the early floats generally were made from plastic milk or soda jugs. Then someone discovered that sections of foam swimming-pool toys called “noodles” work as well, or perhaps better, than jugs.

The noodle sections, usually about a foot long, float well, their bright neon colors make them visible at a distance, and they are easy to handle and store.

Noodles can be bought at most tackle venues, or they can be home-made easily and cheaply.

Chuck, of Mt. Juliet, learned the art of noodle fishing – or jug fishing — from Lebanon guide Jim Duckworth who made a how-to video about it.

Making the gear is simple. Cut a swimming-pool noodle into one-foot sections, and on one end attach a length of strong fishing line (from 4 to 8 feet long depending on where you’ll be fishing). Tie a single hook and small sinker on the other end.

For night fishing, wrap reflective tape around the noodle.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency limits the number of noodles or jugs to 50 per person, and each must be marked with the owner’s name and address or TWRA ID number.

Good noodle baits include nightcrawlers, chicken/turkey liver, minnows and commercial catfish baits, but I prefer skipjack chunks. Every spring I store several skipjack fillets in the freezer for later catfishing trips. The chunks stay on the hook well and emit an oily ooze that attracts prowling cats.

As each hook is baited, the noodle is tossed overboard in a cove or along the shoreline in fairly shallow water where catfish congregate during the spring and summer months.

The TWRA prohibits placing noodles, limb-lines or trotlines within 1,000 yards below any TVA or Corps of Engineers dam. Also, common sense should be used when placing noodles on crowded lakes used by recreational boaters and jet-skiers and water skiers. The more secluded sections of the lake, the better.

There are specific rules regarding the use of noodles or jugs on TWRA lakes. Detailed regulations are listed in the Tennessee Fishing Guide.

Noodling may not be for everybody – running the lines can turn into work, and some anglers prefer to fight in their fish on sporting tackle instead of hoisting them aboard by hand.

But it’s an effective way to bring home a mess of catfish for a fish fry, and watching a noodle suddenly bounce and go under is exciting. I’m ready to noodle some more.

By Larry Woody

TWRA’s Gudlin plays quiet, critical role

Mt. Juliet resident Mark Gudlin is a top TWRA official.

Mt. Juliet resident Mark Gudlin is one of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s unsung heroes.

Gudlin, the TWRA’s Chief of Wildlife & Forestry, oversees the Agency’s critical habitat management and protection program, along with its forestry division.

“It’s primarily a desk job,” says the personable Gudlin who joined the TWRA in 1981 as a wildlife officer after earning a Master’s degree at UT. “I miss being out in the field, but this job gets more important every year as we lose more and more wildlife habitat to a growing population.  All of the development we’re seeing right here in Mt. Juliet is a prime example.”

Larry Woody

Gudlin grew up in a Milwaukee suburb. He came to UT to work on a Master’s degree in biology and wildlife management. As soon as he graduated he joined the TWRA as a wildlife officer, assigned to Jefferson County.

From that entry-level job he was promoted a year later to manager of the Agency’s vast Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley Wildlife Management Area. He served there for three years before becoming the TWRA’s Small-Game Coordinator, then Assistant Chief of Wildlife, Habitat Management, and finally his current position.

Gudlin works out of the Agency’s Nashville office, commuting from Mt. Juliet where he and wife Denise live and raised their three children.

Gudlin devotes most of his time to overseeing the TWRA’s wildlife habitat programs and related initiatives, which include working with private land owners for habitat preservation.

“Ninety percent of the land in the state is privately owned,” he says. “It’s important for the Agency to work with land owners and farmers to develop and preserve as much natural wildlife habitat as possible.”

Another branch of the TWRA is involved in land acquisition. Gudlin does not work directly with the acquisition program, but once land is acquired he oversees its habitat management.

“Acquiring land is a vital, ongoing effort,” he says. “Once land is lost to development it’s lost forever. We want to acquire every acre possible for wildlife and public use, and preserve it for future generations.”

Gudlin says shrinking of public lands – and subsequent shrinkage of wildlife habitat – is one the most pressing challenges facing the Agency.

As more and more private land is lost to hunters and other outdoorsmen, they are increasingly forced to resort to Wildlife Management Areas. That results in over-crowding on some WMAs. It’s nobody fault, but such over-crowding spoils the natural ambiance.

The solution is to secure the use of more private land and develop its wildlife habitat. The same applies to the forestry program, which is not only economically beneficial for the TWRA but in many cases is part of a savannah-development effort to aid small-game and native bird populations.

Gudlin admits his desk job keeps him from getting out in the field more often to enjoy the outdoors he treasures — the very thing that led him into a career in wildlife management.

But without the behind-the-scenes work of him and the TWRA, there would be less outdoors opportunities for the rest of us to enjoy. They deserve every outdoorsman’s appreciation.

Hunter Wright hunting more championships

Lebanon racer Hunter Wright is chasing more championships this season to add to the three he won last year.

Lebanon racer Hunter Wright left himself a tough act to follow last season.

The rising Wilson Central High senior won a total of three championships in the Legends Division — capturing the crown at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway and Highland Rim Speedway and winning the points championship in the Tennessee State Legends Series.

Hunter finished 41st in the National Legends Series among 400 registered drivers across the country.

So far, this season’s encore hasn’t been quite what he envisioned.

“It’s been OK, but I haven’t won yet and that’s kinda disappointing,” says Hunter, who won Rookie of the Year in 2016 and posted 13 victories during last season’s flurry of checkered flags.

“My cars have been fast – I’ve won some poles – but I haven’t been out front at the end,” he says. “I’m not getting the results I want, but I’m not frustrated. It’s still early in the season with a lot of racing to go.”

Hunter says he had no illusions about transforming the triumphs of last season into automatic repeats this year.

“Every year is a new year,” he says. “We hear a lot about ‘momentum’ in this sport, and I guess it can be important from a confidence standpoint. But when it comes down to performing on the track, what you did or didn’t do last season really is not a big factor. You have to go out and perform every race.”

Hunter also believes luck – or fortune – can play a role in racing. Things sometimes happen that are out of a driver’s control, such as a cut tire, broken car part or getting caught up in someone else’s crash.

“They say that racing luck runs in cycles, and last season I had a good-luck cycle,” he says.

In addition to racing in the Legends Division at Highland Rim and Fairgrounds Speedway, Hunter is also running in the Late Model series at the Rim.

“It’s been a big adjustment, because the Late Model cars are about twice the size of the Legends cars,” he says. “On a little (quarter-mile) track like Highland Rim, there’s not a lot of room for full-bodied cars. It gets pretty crowded out there and it’s something I’m having to get used to.”

Hunter credits his dad Dwayne for much of his success. Dwayne, a retired racer, helps prepare his son’s cars and provides trackside coaching.

“My dad is a great coach,” Hunter says. “He has taught me a lot about driving and setting up cars. We do all the work on our cars ourselves.”

Hunter says his mother Julie also is an enthusiastic supporter of his racing efforts. The family owns and operates Premier Sign & Trophy in Gladeville, where their race shop is located.

“Without the support of my mom and dad I couldn’t have accomplished anything,” he says.

Hunter also gives an appreciative nod to his sponsors, starting with Sanders Lawn Care which is also providing him a summer job. Others include Tennessee 811 Call Before You Dig, Springfield Plumbing, Ace Fence & Supply, Al’s Tire Repair and G&S Farms and Trucking.

“My sponsors make it possible for me to race,” Hunter says. “I couldn’t it without them, and I really appreciate their support.”

Mt. Juliet’s Roger Cunningham, Highland Rim Speedway’s co-owner, says bright young drivers like Hunter are the future of the sport.

“They attract fans and that’s what keeps us going,” he says. “We need more like them.”

+++

Superspeedway update: Owners of Memphis Speedway recently announced plans to pursue NASCAR Xfinity and truck series races, stirring speculation that idle Nashville Superspeedway might eventually follow suit.

The Memphis track was formerly owned by Dover Motorsports, which also owns Nashville Superspeedway. Dover officials say they have no plans to re-open the Gladeville track, which is for sale. However, if Memphis is able to successfully host second- and third-tier NASCAR races, that could revive ownership interest in the Superspeedway.

By Larry Woody 

Correspondent

Coming soon: A new youth football league

Bobby Reynolds • The Lebanon Democxrat
Wilson Central football coach Brad Dedman (left) and Wilson County Wildcats head Greg Taylor shake on an agreement for the new youth football league to play on the WCHS field this fall.

A new youth football program will enter the Wilson County scene this fall.

The Wilson County Wildcats will join the Lebanon Blue Devils and Mt. Juliet Bears in the Tennessee Youth Football League.

The league, for ages 5-12, will play at Wilson Central High School, with Friendship Christian’s Pirtle Field as a backup, according to organizer Greg Taylor, who said the purpose of the league is not to take away from the other leagues, but to make them better.

“Our objective is to make Wilson County a better football area,” said Taylor, a former Mt. Juliet running back/defensive back (he ran for 150 yards in the first half against Gallatin as a senior) who played on the Golden Bears’ first playoff team, the 1987 squad which reached the state quarterfinals. He also cited Rutherford County’s area dominance in high school football, crediting its youth programs.

“Rutherford County has really good youth football programs, and a lot of them, maybe seven or eight,” Taylor said. “This would give us three.

“It’s not about taking away from Lebanon, taking away from Mt. Juliet. It’s about making football in Wilson County better. The competition is going to help everyone else better.”

It will also open more opportunities for players and cheerleaders. Taylor said his league will have 150 players and 50 cheerleaders. Signups are available online at wilcowildcats.com and on Facebook at wilsoncountywildcats. Taylor urges interested parents to sign their kid(s) as soon as possible. Cost is $199 per participant.

“Once we get close to the 150 mark, we will begin to shut down,” said Taylor, adding players will receive a new helmet (value $150) to keep at the end of the season along with game pants with pads inserted and jersey. Cheerleaders will also receive uniforms and other apparel.

“Compared to other leagues, we’re trying to bring more value to what parents getting for the money,” Taylor said. “Our ultimate goal is not to have any money at the end of the season. We want to spend every dollar on the kids.”

After graduating from MJHS in 1988, he played for legendary Middle Tennessee State coach Boots Donnelly. After college, he lived in West Nashville for more than a decade and headed the Bellevue Steelers from 2004-07. It was there he introduced current Tennessee Vol linebacker Daniel Bituli to football at age 10.

“I talked Daniel Bituli into playing football,” Taylor said of the future Nashville Christian star who was born in Nigeria and had played soccer in his early years.

Taylor, whose son and nephew played for Friendship in recent years, said just because his program plays at Wilson Central and is called the Wildcats, it is not associated with that school.

“We are not a feeder program for Wilson Central,” Taylor said. “We are a Wilson County program. We have kids zoned for Lebanon High School, zoned for Wilson Central, zoned for Mt. Juliet, and we have kids who go to Friendship.”

Taylor said the quality of the county’s high school facilities, including Central’s and Friendship’s have drawn interest from the TYFL.

“We could possibly have (host) a state championship in Wilson County,” Taylor said. “We have enough fields to do that, and we’ve been asked already.”

Taylor said former Mt. Juliet and Vanderbilt star Tim Bryant and former Titans receiver Chris Sanders will hold a football camp called “Going Dee” from 9 a.m.-noon June 30 at Wilson Central. The camp is open to everybody, Taylor said, adding two to three current players from Tennessee and Vanderbilt are expected to appear.

By Andy Reed

areed@lebanondemocrat.com

Baseball camps to continue throughout June

Katie Arnold • Cumberland University
Cumberland head coach Woody Hunt instructs campers this week during a fundamentals camp for 6-9 year olds at Cumberland.

Cumberland baseball camps continue through June with fundamental camp, hitting and pitching camp and advanced fundamental camp all scheduled at Ernest L. Stockton Field-Woody Hunt Stadium.

Head coach Woody Hunt welcomed more than 70 6-9-year-old campers this week for the first week of fundamental camp. Campers 10-13 years old will take part next week in fundamental camp, which places players in age-appropriate groups where instruction is provided in all aspects of the game, including hitting, fielding and base running.

Campers work in drill stations to improve techniques covered by the coaching staff in the morning and are placed in baseball situations and scrimmages to participate in a game-type atmosphere in the afternoon.

Hitting and pitching camp will take place June 18-20 with hitting camp for 6-12 year olds in the mornings and pitching camp for 8-14 year olds in the afternoons.

Advanced fundamental camp is set for June 25-28 for 14-18 year olds and is recommended for high school players looking to continue their career in college. A high level of focus and attention to detail are required, as baseball concepts and drill work become much more concentrated. Coaches stress the mental and physical aspects of the game and what it takes to become a well-rounded collegiate baseball player.

More information on the camps, as well as signup forms, may be found at cumberlandcamps.com.

Staff Reports

Bowfishermen clean up their act

Larry Woody

The popularity of bowfishing exploded so fast, and bowfishermen proved so skilled and successful, that in recent years it has created problems around some area boat ramps and docks.

Only rough fish can be taken by bowfishing, and since they are generally deemed inedible, piles of them were sometimes dumped out at the ramp and left to rot.

In warm months the stench, flies and flocks of flapping buzzards became so bad that some public ramps and docks – including those at Wilson County’s Misty Cove – were virtually unusable.

Some dead fish were also dumped at the Long Hunter Park launch ramp last spring. It wasn’t as bad as the Misty Cove mess, but bad enough. On one trip I discovered a dozen arrow-pierced carp strewn around the dock and parking lot. I smelled them before I saw them.

A flock of buzzards was working on clean-up detail. It wasn’t a pleasant way to start a day on the lake.

Awhile back while doing research for a magazine story about bowfishing, I interviewed an official with the Bowfishing Association of America, Jeff Nieball of Fayetteville, and he said he is aware of the concerns and working to address them.

Jeff said his association constantly reminds members about the importance of cleaning up after themselves, and is convinced that most of them do it. He said notices are posted on the association’s website and social media outlets, reminding bowfishemen not to dump their catches in public areas.

Fish that have been arrowed obviously can’t be released, and since the rough fish killed by bowfishermen are not considered fit for human consumption (although that could change), what can be done with a boat-load of carp, drum, gar and buffalo, some weighing as much as 80 pounds?

Jeff says he dumps his catch in the deepest part of the lake or in the river channel, where it is cleaned up by turtles and other scavengers.

To keep the mass of dead fish from floating on the surface and drifting up to shore, he sinks them by puncturing the air bladders.

Frank Fiss, chief of fisheries for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, agrees that’s the best way to dispose of them. Fiss says there is no specific TWRA regulation prohibiting dumping dead rough fish; the only restriction is whatever local anti-littering or public sanitation ordinances might be in place.

He says complaints should be presented to local officials rather than the TWRA.

Fiss is aware of the problem with dead fish being dumped at public ramps and docks, and says the Agency may have to deal with the issue at some point. But he, like Nieball, believes the vast majority of bowfishermen are ethical and conscientious, and will self-police the problem.

Meanwhile, there is another potential solution to the disposal problem: instead of dumping them, eat them.

There is a commercial market for trash fish, but it is extremely limited. The TWRA is working to expand it, and also suggests sampling such dishes as carp cakes and baked buffalo. It wouldn’t hurt to give them a try.

It beats leaving them for the buzzards.

Larry Woody is Mt. Juliet News’ outdoors writer. Email him at larrywoody@gmail.com.

Mt. Juliet pitcher opts for Vandy over MLB

Andy Reed • Mt. Juliet News/File
Mt. Juliet’s Ethan Smith throws a pitch May 1 at Lebanon’s Brent Foster Field.

Though recent Mt. Juliet High School graduate Ethan Smith wasn’t selected in the Major League Baseball Draft that started Monday and ended Wednesday, the hard-throwing right-handed pitcher still has big things on the horizon.

“Ethan entertained a few offers Sunday and Monday night but has elected to attend Vanderbilt,” his dad, David Smith, said Wednesday. “He will arrive at campus later this month. The entire draft was a great experience for him, from all the team visits to the pre-draft workout. He’s looking forward to Vanderbilt, and since he is a sophomore-eligible draft guy, he can do this all again in two years.”

The Vanderbilt signee was projected as a pick in the first two rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft.

“We don’t know exactly where, [but] we heard he’s projected in the top two rounds,” Mt. Juliet coach Mark Purvis said prior to the draft of Smith, who topped out at 95 mph and was regularly at 90-93 this past season as he went 8-0 with an 0.90 earned-run average and 80 strikeouts in around 50 innings.

Smith signed with the Commodores in November. He was in Atlanta for a pre-draft workout that involved multiple teams last Thursday, Purvis said.

Purvis said Smith is healthy now after a late-season biceps strain sustained when he caught his spikes during a May 1 start at Lebanon’s Brent Foster Field. Purvis said Smith didn’t look right during a District 9-AAA tournament game against Station Camp and pulled him after about 60 pitches as the Golden Bears had a big lead.

But after the Bears won the district championship, Smith couldn’t make an expected start in the May 14 Region 5-AAA opener against Rossview, which shut out top-ranked Mt. Juliet and eventually won the state championship.

“He would have been OK if we had gotten to Friday (May 18 sectional),” Purvis said. “He just couldn’t go Monday.”

Wilson Central Hall of Famer James Adkins was taken in the 13th round out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies but went to play for the University of Tennessee, from where he was take in the supplemental first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers following his junior season and signed.

Cumberland pitcher Chris Smith, who was personally scouted by Dodger legend Tommy Lasorda at Woody Hunt Stadium, was taken seventh overall in 2001 by the Baltimore Orioles. But the left-hander’s career was immediately derailed by injuries and never really got started. No Cumberland players were selected in this year’s draft.

By Jared Felkins

jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com

Democrat sports editor Andy Reed contributed to this report.

 

Hughes, St. Louis sign with Phoenix women’s basketball

Photo courtesy of Cumberland University
Cincinnati native Secret Hughes (pictured) and Morehead State transfer Dominique St. Louis signed scholarship papers with Cumberland women’s basketball for the 2018-19 academic year.

Cumberland women’s basketball coach Scott Blum announced the signing of Cincinnati, Ohio-native Secret Hughes and Morehead State transfer Dominique St. Louis to scholarship papers this week for the upcoming year.

Hughes was a letterwinner for coach Rob Matula at William Mason High School in Cincinnati and also competed in the shot put in track and field. She is the daughter of Charles Hughes and Diana White.

St. Louis played the last three seasons at Morehead State, playing in 31 games with one start in 2017-18. She scored a career-high 11 points against Eastern Illinois. The Mt. Juliet native saw action in 21 contests in 2016-17 and 18 games in 2015-16 after redshirting during her first season at Morehead State.

She averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds as a junior at Wilson Central High School and posted 12 points and nine boards as a sophomore at Wilson Central. She is the daughter of Derek and Linda St. Louis.

Staff Reports

Clayton to return to Cumberland coaching staff

Photo courtesy of Cumberland University
Former Cumberland All-American Robert Clayton (center) has a conference on the mound with an Embry-Riddle University pitcher. Clayton will return to his alma mater to serve as the team’s pitching coach, effective June 15.

Former Cumberland All-American Robert Clayton will return to his alma mater to serve as the team’s pitching coach, effective June 15, as announced this week by head coach Woody Hunt.

It marks Clayton’s third stint on the coaching staff at Cumberland.

Clayton served the last three seasons as pitching coach and assistant recruiting coordinator at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Florida, working for another former Cumberland All-American, Randy Stegall, in ERAU’s transition to NCAA Division II. The Eagles posted records of 28-22, 14-35 and 20-30 the last three years in the transition to Division II, playing in the ultracompetitive Sunshine State Conference as a full member in 2018.

Before his time at Embry-Riddle, the Miami, native spent one season at Tennessee Wesleyan with head coach Billy Berry, helping the Bulldogs to a 45-12 overall record, as well as Appalachian Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles.

He was a member of the Cumberland coaching staff in 2014, with the Phoenix claiming the program’s third national championship with a 49-20 overall record. Cumberland registered its sixth Mid-South Conference Tournament championship and won the NAIA Championship Opening Round in Kingsport that season, as well, en route to the national title.

He served as an assistant coach with the Leesburg Lightning in the Florida Collegiate Summer League in 2014, as well, handling pitching coach duties for the club that finished 19-19 overall.

From 2011-13 Clayton worked as an assistant coach at Texas-Pan American – currently Texas-Rio Grande Valley – in Edinburg, Texas, serving as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Broncs. UTPA posted a 79-84 mark during his three-year tenure while playing in the Great West Athletic Conference. The Broncs team ERA dropped from 5.75 in 2011 to 4.82 the following season to 4.25 in Clayton’s final campaign on the staff.

His first collegiate coaching stint came at Cumberland from 2009-10 when he served as student assistant. The Phoenix set a program record in 2010 with 58 wins – 58-9 overall – en route to claiming the NAIA national championship with a pitching staff that included Major Leaguer Aaron Wilkerson.

He previously served as a student assistant at Cumberland for the 2010 season, as well as the head coach for the Wilson County Sliders 14U in 2009 and Florida Bombers 16U in Miami in 2007, helping the Bombers to a fourth-place finish in the Mickey Mantle World Series. He was also an assistant coach and the head junior varsity coach at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon in 2009.

Clayton earned honorable mention All-America and All-TranSouth Conference honors in 2007 at Cumberland, posting a 12-3 mark with a 2.93 ERA in 104.1 innings of work, striking out 60 with just 16 walks in 18 appearances with eight complete games. Cumberland advanced to the NAIA World Series that season, with Clayton taking the loss against Bellevue University in Lewiston, Idaho.

He was a preseason All-America selection before the 2008 season and registered a 7-4 record with a 4.63 ERA in 79.2 innings that year with 72 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 14 appearances with four complete games.

Clayton transferred to Cumberland from Broward College in Davie, Florida. He garnered All-State accolades as a sophomore at Broward and helped the Seahawks reached the NJCAA World Series in 2006. He also played one season at Miami Dade College after graduating from Miami Killian High School in 2002.

He received his bachelor’s degree in fitness and wellness from Cumberland in 2010. Clayton is married to the former Hilary Bauer, of Belvidere. She played basketball at Cumberland from 2005-08 and was a member of three teams that reached the NAIA National Tournament, including the national runner-up squad in 2007. The couple has one daughter, Ruby.

Staff Reports

Hunley tabbed freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper

Alison P. McNabb • Tennessee Athletics
University of Tennessee pitcher Sean Hunley throws during a game between the Western Carolina Catamounts and the Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.

TUCSON, Ariz. – University of Tennessee pitcher Sean Hunley was named to the 2018 freshmen All-America team by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, as announced Wednesday by the national outlet.

Hunley becomes the 19th player in program history to earn freshman All-America honors and the second in as many years, joining teammate Andre Lipcius, who earned the distinction last season.

The tall right-hander from Mt. Juliet, had a phenomenal debut season for the Volunteers, leading the team with a 7-3 record and a 2.64 earned-run average in 15 appearances, including 14 starts. Hunley also finished third on the team with 53 strikeouts in 75.0 innings of work and his seven victories were tied for fourth most in a single season by a freshman in program history.

Hunley became the first Tennessee freshman pitcher to start a season 6-0 and posted a streak of 22.1 consecutive scoreless innings early in the year. After settling into the role of the Volunteers’ midweek starter, Hunley transitioned to the Vols’ weekend rotation with five weeks left in the season and made five starts in conference play, including a win over Missouri in the final series of the season in which he gave up just one run on three hits in seven innings of work to keep Tennessee’s SEC Tournament hopes alive.

Hunley also became the first Tennessee freshman pitcher to throw a complete game since Josh Lindblom in 2006, when he did so March 14 in a 5-0 win over Western Carolina, giving up no runs in nine innings of work.

Staff Reports

Bowfishermen cleaning up their act

TWRA fisheries director Frank Fiss holds a mounted Asian carp. The Agency is trying to halt the spread of the invasive species.

The popularity of bowfishing exploded so fast, and bowfishermen proved so skilled and successful, that in recent years it has created problems around some area boat ramps and docks.

Only rough fish can be taken by bowfishing, and since they are generally deemed inedible, piles of them were sometimes dumped out at the ramp and left to rot.

In warm months the stench, flies and flocks of flapping buzzards became so bad that some public ramps and docks – including those at Wilson County’s Misty Cove – were virtually unusable.

Some dead fish were also dumped at the Long Hunter Park launch ramp last spring. It wasn’t as bad as the Misty Cove mess, but bad enough. On one trip I discovered a dozen arrow-pierced carp strewn around the dock and parking lot. I smelled them before I saw them.

A flock of buzzards was working on clean-up detail. It wasn’t a pleasant way to start a day on the lake.

Awhile back while doing research for a magazine story about bowfishing, I interviewed an official with the Bowfishing Association of America, Jeff Nieball of Fayetteville, and he said he is aware of the concerns and working to address them.

Jeff said his association constantly reminds members about the importance of cleaning up after themselves, and is convinced that most of them do it. He said notices are posted on the association’s website and social media outlets, reminding bowfishemen not to dump their catches in public areas.

Fish that have been arrowed obviously can’t be released, and since the rough fish killed by bowfishermen are not considered fit for human consumption (although that could change), what can be done with a boat-load of carp, drum, gar and buffalo, some weighing as much as 80 pounds?

Jeff says he dumps his catch in the deepest part of the lake or in the river channel, where it is cleaned up by turtles and other scavengers. To keep the mass of dead fish from floating on the surface and drifting up to shore, he sinks them by puncturing the air bladders.

Frank Fiss, Chief of Fisheries for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, agrees that’s the best way to dispose of them. Fiss says there is no specific TWRA regulation prohibiting dumping dead rough fish; the only restriction is whatever local anti-littering or public sanitation ordinances might be in place.

He says complaints should be presented to local officials rather than the TWRA.

Fiss is aware of the problem with dead fish being dumped at public ramps and docks, and says the Agency may have to deal with the issue at some point. But he, like Nieball, believes the vast majority of bowfishermen are ethical and conscientious, and will self-police the problem.

Meanwhile, there is another potential solution to the disposal problem: instead of dumping them, eat them.

There is a commercial market for trash fish, but it is extremely limited. The TWRA is working to expand it, and also suggests sampling such dishes as carp cakes and baked buffalo. It wouldn’t hurt to give them a try.

It beats leaving them for the buzzards.

Larry Woody is The Mt. Juliet News’ outdoors writer. Email him at larrywoody@gmail.com. 

Mt. Juliet pitcher awaits call from MLB

Andy Reed • Mt. Juliet News/File
Mt. Juliet’s Ethan Smith pitches at Lebanon on May 1.

Monday could be a big night for recent Mt. Juliet High-graduate Ethan Smith.

The hard-throwing right-handed pitcher could have a big decision to make if projections come true that the Vanderbilt-signee will be picked in the first two rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft.

“We don’t know exactly where, (but) we heard he’s projected in the top two rounds,” Mt. Juliet coach Mark Purvis said of Smith, who topped out at 95 mph and was regularly at 90-93 this past season as he went 8-0 with an 0.90 earned-run average and 80 strikeouts in around 50 innings.

Smith signed with the Commodores in November, but an early call from an MLB team, and a correspondingly high signing bonus, could sway him from West End. Smith was in Atlanta for a pre-draft workout involving multiple teams Thursday, Purvis said.

The first two rounds of the draft are scheduled for Monday beginning at 6 p.m. CDT. Rounds 3-10 will be Tuesday starting at noon. Rounds 11-40 will be Wednesday beginning at 11 a.m.

Purvis said Smith is healthy now after a late-season biceps strain sustained when he caught his spikes during a May 1 start at Lebanon’s Brent Foster Field. Purvis said Smith didn’t look right during a District 9-AAA tournament game against Station Camp and pulled him after around 60 pitches as the Golden Bears had a big lead.

But after the Bears won the district championship, Smith couldn’t make an expected start in the May 14 Region 5-AAA opener against Rossview, which shut out top-ranked Mt. Juliet and eventually won the state championship.

“He would have been okay if we had gotten to Friday (May 18 sectional),” Purvis said. “He just couldn’t go Monday.”

If Smith is taken in the first two rounds, he would likely be the highest-drafted player out of a Wilson County high school. Wilson Central Hall of Famer James Adkins was taken in the 13th round out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies but went to play for the University of Tennessee, from where he was take in the supplemental first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers following his junior season and signed.

By Andy Reed

areed@lebanondemocrat.com

Racer Hale experiences ups and downs

William Hale, who races out of his grandfather Alan’s Mt. Juliet shop, has struggled this season after last year’s success.

Young Wilson County racer William Hale’s dream season last year has turned into a nightmare so far this year.

“It’s beyond frustration,” says William, who has struggled with mechanical problems through the first half of the season at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway.

“We can’t seem to get the car working right. There’s no worse feeling for a driver than watching other cars pull away from you and not being able to do anything about it. It’s awful.”

William, 17, who races out of his grandfather Alan Hale’s shop in Mt. Juliet, won Rookie of the Year last season in the Speedway’s premier All Pro Late Model division. His Rookie of the Year award put him in the track’s record book alongside such past notable rookie winners as Darrell Waltrip, Sterling Marlin and Bobby Hamilton, all of whom went on to NASCAR stardom.

William also captured the first top-tier victory of his career and was in contention for the division championship until a late-season crash knocked him out of third place in the standings.

Buoyed by last year’s success, William couldn’t wait to take to the track again this season and build on that momentum.

But it hasn’t gone as planned.

“We keep having mechanical problems and can’t get it figured out,” he says. “The car’s not stable. We’re still kinda new in this division and we’re having trouble finding and fixing whatever’s wrong.”

William is a rising senior at McGavock High where he got permission to attend to take advantage of special mechanics classes. He works full-time at Home Depot in Hermitage.

Holding a full-time job in addition to working on his race car and investing most of his weekends in travel and racing seems a heavy load for a 17-year-old, but William shrugs it off.

“I don’t mind hard work,” he says. “My grandfather has always gone out of his way to help me race, and I want to do my share.”

“He’s a great kid and I enjoy working with him,” says Alan, a mechanic for some of the area’s top drivers in the 1980s. “He’s always been fascinated by cars and racing, and he has a talent for it. He’s very focused and a fast learner.”

William started going to races at the Fairgrounds when he was three, tagging after his grandfather’s heels in the garage area.

“I grew up watching those guys race and dreaming about being just like them someday,” he says.

Although he was disappointed at not winning the championship last season, William was optimistic about his title prospects this year. Now, barring a major turnaround, his championship chances are dismal.

The struggles have also thrown a wrench in his plans to branch out and race on some other tracks this year.

“We’ve about used up our travel budget working on the car,” William says. “We plan to run the winter race in Pensacola, and that’s it. Right now our focus is on trying to get back on track at the Fairgrounds.”

Having experienced the highs of last season makes it more difficult to cope with the lows of this year.

“All we can do is deal with it and keep working,” William says. “It’s frustrating to work so hard and not have better results to show for it. But that’s always been part of this sport. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for you.”

By Larry Woody 

Correspondent

Famous fisherman, friend, Jimmy Holt remembered

Jimmy Holt will be remembered as not just a great outdoorsman but also as a great friend.

Some mutual friends had recently notified me that Jimmy Holt, one of the state’s most popular outdoorsmen and a long-time newspaper colleague, was dealing with serious health issues and might pass at any moment.

That’s why I was surprised to get a phone call from him one morning a couple of weeks ago, a day or two after the death of my wife Mary Frances.

Jimmy offered condolences and said he how fond he was of Mary Frances and what a joy she was to be around.

We talked for 15 minutes or longer, reminiscing about our old newspaper days at The Tennessean. At one point I asked how he was doing.

“Aw, I’m hanging in,” he said, and shifted the conservation back to Mary Frances and said his prayers were with us.

A few days later I got word that Jimmy had died.

Middle Tennessee lost arguably its most popular outdoors personality and I lost a long-time friend. I wasn’t alone. Jimmy Holt was everybody’s favorite fishin’ buddy.

“Jimmy probably meant more to me personally and professionally than anybody I’ve ever known,” said Lebanon’s Jim Duckworth, a fishing guide, fishing-video producer and one of Holt’s pals for decades.

“He taught me everything I know about videotaping, he was the best fisherman I was ever around, and he was just a great all-around guy,” Duckworth said. “He had that same natural charisma that Bill Dance has – everybody who knew him loved him. Jimmy Holt had a million friends and no enemies.”

I first met Jimmy when I joined The Tennessean sports staff in 1967. At the time he was a photographer, and would go on to become the paper’s fishing writer and outdoors editor.

Jimmy was a superb photographer whose engaging personality gained him lots of behind-the-scenes access. One summer he met an aspiring young singer named Elvis Presley. Jimmy hung out around town with Elvis and accumulated a collection of candid photos.

In addition to being a newspaperman and photographer, Jimmy was also a Metro councilman and boat dealer. But it was his work on the Tennessee Outdoorsman Show, broadcast on Nashville’s PBS station from 1969-2001, for which he was most famous.

Jimmy’s wit and sense of humor made the show a long-running success. One example: Jimmy and co-host Glen Smith were taping a show on a section of Center Hill Lake known as Indian Creek when they struck up a conversation.

“Glen, I wonder why they call this place Indian Creek?” Jimmy asked.

“Gosh, I don’t know, Jimmy,” dead-panned Glen, turning his back to camera – which showed an arrow protruding from the back of his life jacket.

Such fun-loving hi-jinks didn’t distract from the fact that Jimmy was an expert outdoorsman, an avid fisherman and an authority on area waters. He caught fish – big ones and lots of them – when other anglers were getting skunked.

Jimmy was also a dedicated duck hunter. During waterfowl season Jimmy and Tennessean owner Amon Evans would disappear for weeks, hunting out of Amon’s duck camp in West Tennessee.

After Jimmy retired from the Tennessean I eventually took over the outdoor editor’s job and we stayed in contact over the years. Usually we talked about fishing or newspapering. Fittingly, our final conversation was about Jimmy’s concern for others – his mourning the passing of Mary Frances and his concern about how I was doing.

Now, after a half-century’s friendship, Jimmy Holt is gone. He’ll be missed here, but the angels are going to hear some great fishing yarns.

MJ’s Shea returns to the top

Bear senior repeats as state pole vault champ

Angie Mayes • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet’s Cole Shea on his way to a repeat state pole vault championship.

MURFREESBORO — Championships come in different packages. They can come as a complete surprise or they are totally expected.

Mt. Juliet’s Cole Shea experienced the former last year and survived the expectations Thursday morning when the senior repeated as state pole vault champion at Middle Tennessee State’s Dean Hayes Stadium.

Mt. Juliet Christian juniors Darius Hylick and Logan Collier came close Friday in the Division II-A meet. Hylick finished second in the shot put with a throw of 48-7. Collier was third in the long jump with a leap of 20-10.

After winning the championship last season, Shea came into this week as the favorite after posting the highest vault among the state qualifiers in the sectional meet.

“I was extremely nervous today,” Shea admitted while on his way home Thursday evening. “Last year, I didn’t expect it, (but) because (Bearden’s) Jacob Swoboda (now a Duke freshman) was hurt, I ended up winning.

“It’s definitely more stressful when you’re the favorite going into it. But it’s equally as satisfying both ways.”

Shea, whose father Greg bought a used pole vault pit and donated it to the school two years ago, said he’s only been vaulting two years and trains with Axis Athletics’ Brandon Grass at Franklin Road Academy, where Grass also serves as coach.

“I just knew if I did my own thing and didn’t let anything come over my head, I’d be okay,” Shea said after posting a vault of 15-0. “And if I did … lose, it wouldn’t be because of anything getting in my head.”

Lebanon’s Nathan Shields was fifth with a 14-0. Shea also competed in the long jump and was eighth with a leap of 22-1.5.

Shea is headed to Georgia Tech on a track-and-field scholarship and plans to become an aerospace engineer.

“I’m really excited for that,” Shea said.

Shea wasn’t the only Mt. Juliet pole vaulter. Kennedy Cavin was sixth in the girls’ meet with a 9-6.  Julia Karsten was seventh in the girls’ 800 meters with a time of 2:21.17. The girls 4-by-800 relay team was eighth in 9:55.44.

It was also a busy day for Wilson Central. Sophomore Zoe Vlk was third in the girls’ discus with a 137-2 and the shot put with a 40-10.

“(She) will be a state champion in the future,” her coach, Jonathan Booher, said in a Tweet.

Kolin Miller, one day after signing a T&F scholarship with East Tennessee State, was fourth in boys’ discus with a 157-6 and eight in the shot put with a 46-4.

On the boys’ side, the 4-by-400 relay team of K.J. Laribo, Justin Smith, Grant Pody and Baylor Franklin was seventh in a school-record 3:26.52. Franklin was fifth in the 800 meters in 1:56.16. Franklin, headed to Ole Miss on a track scholarship, will graduate with five Wilson Central records – the 400, 800, 1,600, 4-by-400 and 4-by-800.

By Andy Reed

areed@lebanondemocrat.com

No dull moments for Wilson warden

After graduating from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s training academy four years ago, Tanner Romsdale was assigned to Wilson County and charged with enforcing hunting, fishing and boating regulations in the 550 square-mile area.

As he approaches his four-year anniversary, he says there have been no dull moments.

“It definitely keeps me busy,” says the personable Romsdale, a native of Lawrenceburg and graduate of UT-Martin. “I run into something new and different almost every day.”

One morning Romsdale received a frantic call from a Lebanon woman reporting a snake in her garage and pleading for help.

“From the way she sounded I was expecting some sort of big, dangerous snake,” Romsdale says, “but when I got there I found a harmless little 10-inch garter snake that had got stuck in a glue trap set for insects. I got it loose, carried it back into the woods and released it. I assured the lady she had nothing to worry about.”

Romsdale encountered a more serious incident when he caught two young men shooting a deer from a roadway.

“I found the shell casings, and when I lined them up with where the dead deer lay, the shots from the high-powered rifle were right toward a house about 150 yards away,” he says. “I told them they were fortunate they didn’t kill someone.”

The two were issued a citation, one of many Romsdale writes for such serious violations as road hunting. He also is called to investigate reports of trespassing and hunting without permission. (To contact Romsdale call the TWRA regional office, 615-781-6622 and the information will be relayed to him.)

In addition to patrolling the land, Romsdale is also assigned to Old Hickory Lake, the Wilson County section of the Cumberland River and other area waters. He says most water-related violations involve lack of mandatory safety equipment on boats, and improper boat registration.

“Sometimes the registration is expired and sometimes it’s in the wrong name,” he says. “For example, a lot of people don’t know what that when a boat changes hands the registration has to be changed too.”

Romsdale advises every boat owner to periodically review the current Tennessee Boating Guide, available for free at most outdoors outlets.

As for fishing violations, the majority involve not having a license.

“There’s a wide range of excuses,” Romsdale says. “They didn’t know they needed a license, they left it at home, they forgot to renew their old one … I explain that it’s their responsibly to know the regulations and abide by them.”

The same goes for creel limits and size limits.

“I don’t run into many creel limit violations,” Romsdale says, “but sometimes I’ll check someone who has some under-sized crappie, bass or hybrids. Sometimes they don’t know the regulations about size limits, and sometimes they know and still keep under-sized fish.”

When Romsdale was assigned to Wilson County he and wife Katelyn were newlyweds. Earlier this year son John arrived. With his being on call 7-24, finding time to spend with his family can be a challenge for Romsdale.

“My wife is understanding,” he says. “She knew this is what I wanted to do all my life, and she’s very supportive.”

Larry Woody is The Democrat’s outdoors writer. Email him at larrywoody@gmail.com.

Three from Wilson on Freed’s NAIA-bound softball team

While Lebanon-native Bryce Lester and his Freed-Hardeman baseball teammates prepare to travel to Lewiston, Idaho, for the Lions’ first NAIA World Series, another F-H team is also making school history with Wilson Countians on the roster.

Sisters Emily and Lily Bombard and Annalise Jarnigan are part of the Lady Lions’ first-ever softball team to qualify for an NAIA World Series.

Emily, a senior infielder, transferred to Freed from Blue Mountain College in Mississippi. Her sister, Lily, is a sophomore outfielder who was the center-fielder on Wilson Central’s 2015 Class AAA state championship team.

Freshman infielder Jernigan was part of Friendship Christian’s 2015 Division II-A state title team.

Freed will face Faulkner at 11 a.m. Friday in Clermont, Fla.

Lester and the F-H baseball Lions will open the World Series against Northwestern Ohio at 5 p.m. CDT Friday in Lewiston.

By Andy Reed

areed@lebanondemocrat.com

Former Wildcat star Smith repeats on All-SoCon team

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — East Tennessee State sophomore second baseman Cullen Smith repeated as second-team All-Southern Conference on both the coaches and media teams, it was announced Monday.

Wilson Central’s all-time hits leader, Smith hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games and enters the conference tournament riding a 13-game hitting streak.

Staff Reports

Hunley kept UT in contention for one final day

Sean Hunley

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Tennessee fell one win short of qualifying for the SEC baseball tournament.

But Vol freshman Sean Hunley did all he could to get the Big Orange to Hoover, Ala.

The right-hander from Mt. Juliet pitched Tennessee to a 2-1 win over Missouri last Friday at Taylor Stadium. He allowed one run on three hits with four strikeouts to improve to a final 7-3 record.

UT was eliminated from postseason contention Saturday with an 8-3 loss to finish 29-27 for the season, but only 12-18 in the SEC.

Staff Reports