Spring Hill’s Nick Erdman and Jeremy Gearlds will continue their stays at the TSSAA State Bowling Championships for another day, but their pursuits of an individual title came to an end Wednesday.
With a total pinfall of 772 in four games at Smyrna Bowling Center, Erdman — making his second tournament appearance in as many years — came up just short of qualifying for one of the top six spots necessary to advance to the championship ladder round.
Erdman, a senior, placed 10th overall, with Gearlds totaling 750 in the semifinals to finish 19th.
“They just didn’t get the breaks,” Spring Hill coach Don McKinnon said. “The pins didn’t fall. They put the ball there; they just didn’t get much pin carry.”
Walker Valley’s Jacob Brown rolled an 873 in the semifinals to earn the top spot in the ladder matches, followed by Hardin Valley’s Devean Littlejohn (871), Sevier County’s Caleb Marshall (839), Franklin’s Drew Whelan (810), Lawrence County’s Colton Moore (807) and Green Hill’s Andy Romer (793).
Littlejohn defeated Brown 238-197 in the finals, with Moore placing third, followed by Marshall, Whelan and Romer. Moore won three straight ladder matches before falling to Littlejohn.
Gearlds, a junior, had the seventh-best qualifying average in the state tourney field, with a 216.24, while Erdman was 10th with a 215.44. Both came up short of those efforts on Wednesday, though. Erdman had a 231 in his third game, after a 202 and a 167, and finished with a 172. Gearlds opened with a 194 and a 204, but fell off to a 164 and 188 in his final two games.
“Jeremy didn’t seem nervous at all,” McKinnon said. “He was there. He put the ball where he needed to. He just didn’t get the carry.
“Nick was disappointed, as anyone would be. But we kept his spirits up. They’ll both be back for the team event.”
Columbia Central sophomore Jacob Molasy totaled 682 for 30th place.
Erdman, Gearlds and their Raider teammates will now turn their attention to the Division I boys team competition that begins at 11 a.m. Thursday with a quarterfinal match against Lebanon. Boys semifinals are set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, with the championship scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Friday.
In Division II, Columbia Academy senior Austin Kimes and sophomores Foster Isenberg and Connor Butt are in the boys individual semifinal field that will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday. The DII boys championship ladder rounds will begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
For the Spring Hill bowling team, Monday’s trip back from Dayton was more enjoyable than the one over.
The Raiders rebounded from their Region 4 championship loss last week to Smyrna to defeat Region 3 titlist Rhea County 14-13 — and clinch their first TSSAA Division I boys state tournament berth with the sectional victory.
“I’ve been there since 2004, and it’s my first time,” veteran Spring Hill coach Don McKinnon said regarding the feat.
After taking a 5-3 lead through the first game — keyed by a 234 by David Yauger and a 232 by state qualifier Nick Erdman — the Raiders were swept in Game 2 and trailed 11-5 heading into the final.
Junior Nicollette Harper, who rolled a 162 and a 140 in the first two games, rallied with a 201 to win her individual matchup and spark her team to the overall victory.
“All they needed was three points,” McKinnon said regarding Rhea County. “Nicollette beat one of their top bowlers and sealed the victory.”
Erdman, a senior, led the way for Spring Hill with a 610 series. Yauger, a junior, turned in a 599 series, followed by junior Tyler Williams (547), junior Jeremy Gearlds (543), Harper (503) and senior Jordon Reese (434).
Spring Hill will face Lebanon in Thursday’s state quarterfinals beginning at 11 a.m. Other quarterfinal matchups will include Sevier County vs. Smyrna, Centennial vs. Hardin County and Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett vs. Bartlett.
The state tournament begins Wednesday at Smyrna Bowling Center with Division I boys and girls individual semifinal competition — boys at 11 a.m., girls at 1:30 p.m. — followed by the championship rounds at 4 p.m.
Division I team competition starts Thursday with girls quarterfinals at 8:30 a.m., boys quarters at 11 a.m. and boys and girls semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Division II boys and girls individual semis are set for 4 p.m. Thursday.
On Friday, Division I boys and girls team championships and Division II boys and girls individual championships are set for 8:30 a.m., with DII girls team quarterfinals at 11 a.m., DII boys team quarters at 1:30 p.m., and DII boys and girls team semifinals at 4 p.m.
The Division II boys and girls team championships matches are scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday.
Gearlds and Erdman are both in the DI boys individual field, each among the top 10 qualifiers statewide. Gearlds had a 216.24 average pinfall per game during the regular season, seventh in the field, while Erdman — a two-time qualifier — comes in with a 215.44 average, 10th among all qualifiers.
Columbia Academy senior Austin Kimes (206.25, eighth), a Martin Methodist signee, and sophomores Foster Isenberg (186.04, 20th) and Connor Butt (185.42, 21st) are among the Division II boys individual qualifiers.
NOTE: Because of pandemic-related capacity restrictions, no spectators will be allowed at the state bowling tournament. Only participants and their coaches will be granted entry during their portion of the tournament. Live scoring will be available at TSSAAsports.com.
Spring Hill and Lawrence County’s bowling teams ended Monday the same way they started – facing each other at Tenn Pin Alley.
But after losing a one-game rolloff to establish seeding in the District 8 Tournament, the Raiders won the matchup that counted – claiming the first boys/co-ed team title in the program’s history by a 15.5-11.5 margin.
“Everybody woke up,” said Spring Hill senior Nick Erdman, who rolled a team-high 711 series in the finals. “We were tired, sore (for the morning match). We weren’t loosey-goosey. We weren’t loud. There wasn’t a lot of support for each other. We weren’t as involved as we were in the finals.
“We were yelling, encouraging each other. That definitely helped us out. We wanted it, really bad.”
Both teams went undefeated in district play, but their contest was canceled because of COVID and the schedule did not allow for a makeup match. Lawrence County took the top seed with the rolloff victory, then defeated No. 8 seed Summit (16-11) and No. 4 Columbia Central (17-10) to advance to the finals.
“I can’t complain,” Central coach Randy Cook said regarding his team, which defeated fifth-seeded Marshall County in the quarterfinals. “They hung in there. They were over 3,000 (pins) in both matches.
“It’s been a learning experience. I can’t complain. It’s just a matter of getting them more consistent, which means practice.”
Spring Hill downed No. 7 seed Santa Fe 22.5-4.5 in the opening round and No. 6 seed Franklin County – an upset winner over Tullahoma in the quarterfinals – to set up the rematch.
“We really didn’t care (about the rolloff),” Raiders coach Don McKinnon said. “We knew we’d make it through and meet them again, and we made it count.”
Behind Erdman, an individual state qualifier a year ago, Spring Hill got a 648 series from junior Jeremy Gearlds, a 631 from junior Tyler Williams and a 630 from junior David Yauger.
“We were up 131 points after the second game; we only needed four points at that point to win the match,” McKinnon said. “We only needed to win one game, and we won two.”
Both Spring Hill and Lawrence County will advance to the Region 4 semifinals, which are currently scheduled to be held in January, ahead of the Division I state tournament, set for Jan. 21-23 in Smyrna.
Erdman expressed appreciation for McKinnon and assistant Derrick Reynolds following the championship victory.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” he said.
In girls competition, top seed Tullahoma defeated Lawrence County 22-5 for the title.
Austin Kimes became the first Columbia Academy student to sign a college bowling scholarship Thursday when he did so with Martin Methodist College.
Kimes, whose average is currently among the top five individual bowlers in Division II, selected the RedHawks over Tusculum, Campbellsville and Pikeville, citing a longtime connection with the Pulaski NAIA program – including a training relationship with MMC coach Bob Learn, a five-time winner on the PBA Tour and a current Spring Hill resident who now bowls on the PBA50 tour.
“My cousin (former Columbia Central bowler Chelsea Hinton) has been there for two or three years,” he said. “And their linking to the Tennessee program just sealed it.”
Kimes comes from a long family tradition of bowling, and has competed in the Junior Gold Nationals over the last couple of years.
“I started as a hobby, but I realized I could do it in high school, and then in college,” he said. “Obviously the big dream and goal now is to bowl professionally.”
Having bowled at Columbia Academy since eighth grade, Kimes hopes to start his own tradition with Thursday’s signing.
“I didn’t really take that into account until this year,” he said of becoming the first Bulldog bowling signee. “It’s cool to be the first. Hopefully I won’t be the last.”
Former University of Tennessee basketball standout Fred Jenkins, ex-Major League Baseball all-star Dan Uggla and the 2010 TSSAA Class 5A state championship football team highlight the 2020 Columbia Central Athletic Hall of Fame induction class.
The class will be honored during an Oct. 22 ceremony.
In addition to former individual athletes and contributors, three Central state title squads will be inducted – the 2004 girls bowling team, the 2008 boys bowling team and the 2010 football team.
“It’s a very impressive class,” Central principal Roger White said regarding the third group of inductees since the Hall of Fame’s 2018 establishment. “The committee did a really good job of selecting this class.”
This year’s honorees are:
Jimmy Linville, Class of 1954: An all-American football selection his senior season, Linville was part of a 1953 team that finished 9-1 with five shutouts. He went on to play collegiately at Vanderbilt, and was a member of the 1955 team that defeated Auburn in the Gator Bowl for the Commodores’ first bowl victory.
Regen Peebles, Class of 1961: Peebles was a three-sport participant for the Lions, playing basketball and baseball in addition to earning all-state honors on the gridiron. He later played at the University of Alabama.
Hal Wantland, Class of 1962 (posthumously): Captain of both the basketball and football teams his senior year, Wantland played each for four seasons as well as baseball. He was a football all-American selection following the 1961 season, as Central finished 7-2-1. Wantland played collegiately at Tennessee and captained the 1965 team, before his selection in the 16th round of the 1966 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins and a brief professional career with the Miami Dolphins.
James Kelly, Class of 1969: “Batman” was a four-sport participant at Central, starring in football as a most valuable player selection his senior year and as an all-region basketball performer in addition to baseball and track. On the hardwood, Kelley helped the Lions to their first tournament berth in 32 years before going on to play football collegiately at Tennessee State. After completing his eligibility, he spent time professionally with the Chicago Bears and the Washington Redskins.
Fred Jenkins, Class of 1983: After earning all-America honors and having his jersey retired at the conclusion of his Central tenure, Jenkins joined the 1,000-point club at UT and was a sixth-round NBA draft selection of the Houston Rockets. He went on to play professionally overseas.
Jerie Alexander, Class of 1998: Alexander earned all-state honors in both basketball and softball at Central, leading the softball team to a pair of district titles, before signing a softball scholarship with Southwestern Louisiana (since renamed Louisiana-Lafayette). As a Ragin’ Cajun, Alexander established career runs and at-bat records for the program and was the No. 2 all-time leader in hits, and was a two-time all-Sun Belt Conference first-team selection.
Dan Uggla, Class of 1998: A four-year member of the Lion football and baseball teams, Uggla rushed for 1,053 yards his senior season before signing a baseball scholarship with the University of Memphis. He was named a Louisville Slugger collegiate All-American his sophomore year, and was selected in the 11th round of the 2001 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Taken in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft by the Florida Marlins, Uggla became the first Rule 5 draftee to earn all-star honors in his first year with his new team, in 2006. He was also an all-star in 2008 and ’12. After spending time with the Atlanta Braves – where he had a 33-game hitting streak in 2011 – and the San Francisco Giants, Uggla concluded his career with the Washington Nationals in 2015.
Jerry Sweeney, Contributor (posthumously): Sweeney made a tremendous behind-the-scenes impact on the Central football, baseball and band programs for more than 20 years, and was particularly instrumental in transporting band equipment for road performances.
Mid-Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic/Jeff and Tina Adams, Contributors: Since MTBJ’s 1975 founding, Jeff was the long-serving team doctor for Central athletics, while Tina served as an officer with the Central football booster club. Both have been extremely generous with their time.
2004 Lady Lions bowling: Central completed a perfect season with a dominant run through the state tournament bracket – defeating Collierville 18-9, Hardin County 21-6 and Gatlinburg-Pittman 22-5 before downing Glencliff 18-9 in the finals to finish 18-0 on the year. Coached by Mike Ransom and Michael Ransom Jr., team members included Angelina Burns, Fran DeRanzo, Julie Halter, Ashley Haywood, Candace Howell, Christina Lewis, Lashonda Mayberry, Kristine Meath, Surkonya Moore, Ashley Patrick, Paige Provey and Holly Thompson.
2008 Lions bowling: Led by individual state titlist Michael Poirier, the Lions defeated Sevier County 22-5 in the state quarterfinals and neighboring rival Page 18-9 in the semis before clinching the first of five championships with a 19-8 win over Hendersonville in the finals and finishing 24-1. Coached by Mike Ransom, Gary Flatt and Randy Cook, team members included Des Braden, Aaron Davidson, Francisco Delarosa, Tay Duncan, Jake Flatt, Cody Hamilton, Travis Howell, Carey Morris, Ronald Riggs, Wes Tuesca and Poirier.
2010 Lions football: Rallying around the illness of teammate Dylan Rebeor, the Lions improved on their 2009 state runner-up status and claimed the program’s first TSSAA-sanctioned championship with a 28-7 win over Hendersonville – hours after Rebeor succumbed to cancer that same day. Central finished the year 13-2, with postseason victories over Lenoir City, Knoxville Catholic and rival Tullahoma before advancing to the finals with a hard-fought 7-0 win over visiting Knoxville West. Senior fullback/linebacker Tra’Darius Goff earned offensive and defensive MVP honors in the title game, scoring three touchdowns and notching a game-high 17 total tackles. Coached by Vance Belew, other team members included Dre Hall, Matthew Markham, Chris Martin, Eric Belew and Shaq Mason.
“We have a selection committee and a hall of fame board,” explained Hall of Fame committee chair Drew Parker. “The committee narrows down the finalists, and the board selects from the finalists. (But) we rely on nominations from the public. Anyone can nominate anyone. It’s really important that folks nominate.
“This is a class of incredible individuals, well representative of our school. Our hope is that we can continue to recognize folks that are every bit as impressive and deserving as the ones we are recognizing this year.”
The inaugural Hall of Fame class included Jim Cartwright, Everett Derryberry, Hardy Loyd, Lindsey Nelson, Fred Pickard, Malcolm “Mutt” Quillen, Joanne (Cole) Ramsey, Virginia Scott Parsons and longtime Columbia Daily Herald sports editor Marion Wilhoite.
Last year’s inductees were Vance Belew, Bernard Childress, Lee Clayborne, Robert Elliott, Lee Fowler, Richard Lemay, Billy Potts, Jack Van Hooser, Willie Wyatt and the 1952 Central football team.
Details regarding the Oct. 22 event will be provided at a later date.
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: email@example.com; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.