Spring Fling turns 20 years old today, and shows no signs of losing its staying power.
The TSSAA’s one-city five-sport state championship chase kicks off in Murfreesboro today, and will wrap up Friday. Action begins with the decathlon and pentathlon events at the Middle Tennessee State University track.
Baseball, softball, soccer and tennis get under way Tuesday.
The big event — now called the BlueCross Spring Fling — began in 1994 in Chattanooga, and stayed in the southern Tennessee city until moving to Memphis in 2003. It remained in the western city for three grueling years — for Northeast Tennessee teams at least — before moving to Murfreesboro in 2006.
This will be the eighth straight year in the center-of-the-state city.
Throughout the course of the Spring Fling, 17 area teams have claimed state championships — 10 on the boys’ side and seven for the girls. Two came in baseball, two in softball, 11 in tennis and two in track. No area team has claimed a state soccer championship, although Science Hill did finish runner-up in 2011.
Here’s a sport-by-sport look at what’s on tap for the week in The ‘Boro:
Avoiding Pigeon Force ace Wil Crowe by winning the Region 1-AA title helped Elizabethton reach the state tournament.
However, the Cyclones couldn’t dodge Crowe a second time.
Elizabethton (28-10) drew the Tigers (35-2), and will meet them at approximately 7:45 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday. An upset of the Tigers’ ace would give the Cyclones a very realistic shot of reaching the championship game because Crowe probably wouldn’t start a second time unless the Tigers made it to Friday.
Murfreesboro Central (24-15) and Dyersburg (27-11) are the other two teams in Elizabethton’s bracket.
The event is a double-elimination format during bracket play. The two bracket winners meet for a one-game championship Friday regardless of their bracket records.
In Class AAA, Dobyns-Bennett got a favorable draw against Brentwood (29-16). The Indians (32-6) are in the same bracket with Murfreesboro Riverdale and Collierville.
The Class AAA games will be played at Siegel and Oakland while Class AA will play their games at Smyrna and Blackman. The Class A event will be at Middle Tennessee Christian and Riverdale.
All championship games are set for MTSU’s Reese Smith Field on Friday with Class A at noon (EDT), Class AA at 3 p.m., and Class AAA at 6 p.m.
Unicoi County and University High can’t complain too much about their brackets.
The Class AA Lady Blue Devils (35-5) drew Meigs County, a team they defeated in the 2010 state tournament. They will play Tuesday at approximately 7 p.m. (EDT).
Also, Unicoi didn’t draw perennial state power Goodpasture, and is in the opposite bracket from defending state champion Corryton Gibbs.
Goodpasture is on Unicoi’s side of the bracket along with Lexington.
As for the Class A Lady Junior Bucs, they avoided perennial power Trinity Christian. Also, their first-round opponent, Oliver Springs, is basically a newcomer to the state tournament. UH defeated Oliver Springs in the 2007 sectional round.
All of the games in the softball event will be played at Murfreesboro Sports Complex and McKnight Fields. It is a double-elimination format throughout with the title games set for Friday.
This year’s tournament has a new format, which would force the team coming out of the losers’ bracket to play three games in one day — if it forces the if-necessary game. Game times would be 10 a.m. (EDT), 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday.
If Greeneville has a case of déjà vu, it would be understandable. The Greene Devils will meet Memphis Kingsbury in the quarterfinals for the third consecutive season.
In both previous contests, Greeneville lost 2-1 and watched Kingsbury win in the semifinals and go on to play for a state title — falling short each time.
This year Greeneville is 11-3-4 while Kingsbury is 9-11-0.
The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex.
All matches are at the Siegel complex with the semifinals set for Wednesday and the finals scheduled for Friday at 5:30 p.m.
This will be the first year since 2001 that Northeast Tennessee has failed to put a squad in the team semifinals.
Therefore, the area will have to wait until Thursday for the individual events to start.
Seeking Class A-AA titles are Unicoi County’s Nela Holkova and Mallory Jackson in girls’ doubles, Greeneville’s Jordan Hite and Malcolm Blair in boys’ doubles, South Greene’s Javan Wilhoit in girls’ singles, and Greeneville’s Jaspal Mahal in boys’ singles.
In Class AAA, it’s Science Hill’s Katie Deal and Hope Forbush in girls’ doubles while Josie Rogers of Dobyns-Bennett chases a girls’ singles crown. On the boys’ side, it’s Kaleb Pittman and Kevin Peterson of D-B in boys’ doubles, and Matt Henson of Tennessee High in boys’ singles.
All matches will be played at the Old Fort Park courts with the finals scheduled for Friday.
Dobyns-Bennett’s Jeremiah Sokol will participate in the Class AAA decathlon while Greeneville’s Trey Clark competes in the Class A-AA event.
In the pentathlon, Dobyns-Bennett’s Adrianna Watkins qualified in Class AAA while West Greene’s Cheyenne Upton is in the Class A-AA event.
The pentathlon is a one-day event while the decathlon concludes Tuesday.
The girls track meet begins Wednesday with the pole vault, 3,200-meter run, and preliminary events. The rest of the meet will take place Thursday. The boys start Thursday and conclude Friday.
All competition is at the MTSU track.