10 things to know about Spring Fling

10 things to know about Spring Fling


10 things to know about Spring Fling



The 20th year of BlueCross Spring Fling officially began Monday with the decathlon and pentathlon.

However, the entire Fling will be in action beginning today. More than 4,400 athletes from across the state have embarked to Murfreesboro for their chance at a state title.

By the end of the week, 44 state titles will be crowned in five spring state tournaments — baseball, boys soccer, softball, tennis and track and field.

Rutherford County will have athletes competing in all five sports this week. In fact, it may be the best representation ever by Rutherford County athletes.

Here are 10 things to note regarding Rutherford County athletes this week:

Plan to watch Brock Baker

Oakland senior Brock Baker will attempt something only accomplished one time — win the 800-meter run, 1,600 and 3,200 at the boys state track and field championships.

Knoxville West’s Dusty Miller, a former Tennessee distance runner, completed the feat in Memphis at the 2003 Spring Fling.

Baker, an Oklahoma signee and reigning Tennessee Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year, must qualify for the 800 finals on Thursday before running for state titles in all three the next day.

Ignore his sectional times. He worked on strategy in the 1,600 and 3,200. He is the defending state champion in both events.

Don’t forget Hillsman

While Baker may be the favorite to win all three distance events on Friday at Dean A. Hayes Stadium, keep an eye out for Central Magnet’s Andre Hillsman.

Like Baker, the Central Magnet junior will attempt to equal the feat in Class A/AA

Hillsman ran the second-fastest time among Class A/AA sectionals in the 1,600 and 3,200. He has the fourth-fastest time in the 800.

It wouldn’t be a stretch for Hillsman to make a run at track and field’s triple crown this week, as well.

Central Magnet makes history

Speaking of Central Magnet, the school’s baseball team battled injuries during the region tournament to get to the Class AA state tournament in the its second year of high school varsity play.

Central’s pitching staff is led by Will Norfleet and Alex Ropp, both of whom are good enough to win in the tournament.

Led by former Riverdale coach Buddy Powers, the Tigers will attempt to win their first state tournament game at 4 p.m. today against Dyersburg at Smyrna High. If Central is successful, it will also be Powers’ first state tournament win as a coach. He went 0-8 at Riverdale in state tournament games.

Riverdale baseball back again

Riverdale won its first two state tournament games in school history a year ago in placing in the Class AAA state tournament’s Final Four. The Warriors return this year to Siegel High where they open their Fling with Collierville at 4 p.m.

Riverdale’s pitching staff is 6-0 this postseason with a 1.47 ERA. Opposing batters are hitting just .161 since the district tournament started.

Today’s starter for Riverdale, Trevor Sutton, is 3-0 in the postseason with a 0.44 ERA.

Worst to first

La Vergne High showed how little the regular season means this year in boys soccer. The Wolverines placed sixth in the District 7-AAA regular season. But La Vergne went on to beat third-seeded Blackman, second-seeded Riverdale and top-seeded Smyrna to win the district tournament.

La Vergne coach Allen McMillan is quick to point out the Wolverines’ last-place finish in the regular season is misleading. La Vergne forfeited a win to Siegel due to playing an ineligible player. And all of the Wolverines’ losses were by one goal.

La Vergne plays Maryville at 4:30 p.m. today at Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in its Class AAA state quarterfinal.

Siegel’s year?

Siegel High’s girls tennis team will compete in its third consecutive state team semifinals at 3 p.m. today at Old Fort Park when it plays White Station.

The Lady Stars have lost that semifinal match the past two years. But Siegel could have a breakthrough in 2013.

Ashlee Boles, who will play at Tennessee in the fall, has been the Lady Stars’ No. 1 player the past four years. Boles and teammate Jacquelyn Leeman, the Lady Stars’ No. 3 player, are both four-year varsity performers.

More history for Boles?

Boles became Rutherford County’s first female tennis player to win a TSSAA singles state title in 2012. However, she chose not to defend that title this year. Instead, she is teaming up with Marissa Kovach in doubles.

Coincidentally, if Boles and Kovach win the state doubles title this week they will be the first in Rutherford County to ever do so.

They’re back

It wasn’t an easy road for Riverdale’s softball team, but the Lady Warriors are making their fourth Class AAA state tournament appearance in five seasons.

Riverdale defeated Coffee County with four runs in the top of the seventh inning to come back from a 1-0 deficit to edge the Red Raiders.

It won’t be any easier as Riverdale faces a quality Dickson County team at 10 a.m. Wednesday in its first game of the state tournament.

Riverdale has thrived with a lineup full of power hitters, including Kristin Uselton, Sarah Higgins, Caylee Porter and Paige Byram. And Uselton and sophomore Caroline Faulkner have teamed up in the pitcher’s circle.

County breakdown

It was a banner year for Rutherford County spring athletes.

Every TSSAA-member school had at least one athlete qualify for Spring Fling this year. Team-wise, the county sent two baseball teams (Central Magnet and Riverdale), two boys soccer teams (La Vergne and Smyrna), two softball squads (Riverdale and Smyrna) and two tennis teams (Siegel boys and girls) to the Fling. There are three tennis singles players (Central’s Mason Grear, Riverdale’s Taylor Nelson, Siegel’s Taylor Graalman) and three doubles teams (MTCS’ Mark Claiborne and Kip Kahler, Oakland’s Charley Myers and Mitch Burnham and Siegel’s Boles and Kovach). And there are dozens of track and field athletes.

What to bring

The way Mother Nature has been this spring, be prepared for everything. Sunscreen may be a necessity, but don’t forget umbrellas and ponchos in case rain falls — especially on Wednesday. Soccer fans can bring pop-up chairs for quarterfinal and semifinal games. But the championship games are all played in the stadium at Richard Siegel Soccer Complex.

Fans wanting to bring coolers full of drinks and snacks should leave them in their cars. They aren’t allowed for spectators at any of the venues.

Oh, and don’t forget to bring extra money for a program ($5) and possibly a cap or T-shirt.

And for those with smart phones or tablets, follow Spring Fling online on DNJ.com.


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