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40 athletes compete in local Highland Games Lightweight Championships

Zach Vance • Aug 20, 2016 at 5:40 PM

Early rain showers didn’t dampen the spirits of those athletes competing in Saturday’s first-ever Tennessee Highland Games Lightweight Championships at iTrain Fitness on South Roan Street. 

“Lightweights are kind of big out in the midwest, and there really aren’t that many lightweight games at all in the Southeast,” said organizer Brenden Bohannon. 

“We had a few guys who wanted to throw lightweight but didn’t want to drive 8 to 10 hours or fly out west to do it. So I said ‘if we could get enough (athletes) we’d do it,’ and I think we’ve got 10 lightweight athletes here today, so it worked out.” 

Any athlete weighing under 200 pounds competed in the lightweight division and threw a 42-pound weight instead of a 56-pound weight for distance and height throws. 

Other divisions competing Saturday were: the men’s lightweight master’s division, the men’s open division, the women’s lightweight division, the women’s lightweight master’s division, the women’s open division, the novice division and the adaptive athlete division. 

A youth division with four competitors was also introduced at the games. Two of the youth athletes traveled from Indianapolis just to compete.   

“I actually heard about it on Facebook,” said Tracy Mills, the mother of the two sons. Mills and her husband also competed. 

“All of the highland athletes try to hook up and find out about games, and who runs the best game,” Mills said. “And (Bohannon’s) name continues to come up, his games are growing and he has a really good reputation.” 

Mills said her family travels to approximately 12 highland games events a year. 

Bryan Simpson, from Chattanooga, also traveled for Saturday’s games, which was the first one he’d competed in.

“I’ve actually traveled out here twice and practiced with Brenden and these guys,” Simpson said. “I found them on the internet. I was looking for some people to kind of help me train. I’m looking forward to more events here.” 

Simpson said his family ancestry, along with visiting various Celtic festivals, drove him to start competing. 

“The more I watched them, the more I wanted to compete in them,” said Simpson, who won the caber toss in the novice division. 

Bohannon said the number of athletes at Saturday’s event was capped at 40 because it was the first time he’d organized a heavy athletics event at the iTrain fitness venue.

“This is our first time in a new venue so we actually had to limit registrations just to make sure that everything ran smoothly on the new field,” Bohannon said. “Next time it will be open registration, so I’m hoping that we will cap out at about 70 athletes.” 

The other three Tennessee Highland Heavy Athletics games organized by Bohannon were held at Mohr Fitness on LP Auer Road. 

Bohannon said the next local highland heavy athletics games will be Oct. 22. 

To find out more, visit www.facebook.com/tennesseehighlandheavyathletics.

Email Zach Vance at zvance@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at  Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP

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