Burgin, a tiny independent public school in Mercer County, won a high school region championship last Saturday, and it was an inspiring fish story about the one that didn't get away.
Burgin can't begin to compete with big schools in traditional sports. Imagine the Bulldogs going up against St. Xavier, Trinity, Scott County, Lafayette or Madison Central in basketball or baseball. And with only about 150 students in its high school, Burgin can't even think about fielding a football team. It would even be dwarfed in Class A.
But Burgin has found a sport in which it can compete with — and beat — the big schools. In its first year of bass fishing, Burgin won the Region 2 championship at Lake Cumberland last Saturday. Riley Bradshaw and Elijah Thompson, both freshmen, teamed up for a total catch of 8 pounds, 9 ounces to finish first. Thompson also had the biggest catch of the day, 4 pounds, 9 ounces. East Jessamine, Madison Southern and Franklin County finished 2-3-4. The 98-boat field also included teams from St. X, Trinity, Scott County, Lafayette, Madison Central and a bunch of other big schools.
Milton Hammons, Burgin's volunteer coach, said the Bulldogs' victory was a "Cinderella story," and that it reaffirmed the KHSAA's decision to sanction bass fishing as a sport. "It's not just a hobby anymore. It opens opportunities for young men and women," he said, noting that a lot of colleges now offer scholarships for bass fishing.
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Burgin has 13 students (nine boys, four girls) participating in a sport that most of them have grown up around. "We're right on Herrington Lake, so most of our kids' moms, dads and grandpas are always out there.," Hammons said.
"We've got a bunch of country boys and girls who don't have much interest in anything else. My son Jace is 6-1, 200 pounds, who could do well in other sports, but I can't keep him off the lake or out of the woods to do anything else."
Milton Hammons wishes bass fishing had been a sanctioned sport when he attended Burgin in the late 1980s. "If I could collect a dollar from every person who told me that same thing, I could retire," he said with a laugh.
The top 14 finishers in each of the state's four regions advance to the state tournament at Kentucky Lake on May 15 and 16. Little' ol Burgin will be there, hoping to write another fish story.
■ Hazard junior lefthander Griffin Wells threw a no-hitter in a 2-0 win over Middlesboro to give the Bulldogs a spot in the All "A" Classic state baseball tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark Derby weekend. Defending champion Beechwood, Lexington Christian and West Carter have also qualified for the elite eight. The rest of the field has yet to be determined.
■ Rowan County pitcher Cameron Planck had his string of 22 scoreless innings come to an end in the Doc Morris Invitational last weekend. Chandler Shepherd of Lawrence County set the state record with 46 consecutive scoreless innings in 2008-09. Planck, a junior righthander, has commited to Louisville. Last season he had a 7-3 record, 2.57 earned run average, and 84 strikeouts in 60 innings.
■ Tates Creek is planning a recognition day for Dom Fucci, whose Commodores have won more than 450 games in his 20 years as baseball coach. All of Fucci's former players at Tates Creek, Lexington Catholic and Owen County are asked to contact Shawn Yeary at email@example.com
■ Paris beat Bourbon County 6-1 in softball this week, ending a 33-game losing streak to the Colonels and an 88-game losing streak to district opponents. Bourbon County pounded Paris 28-0 in late March when Paris freshman pitcher Amanda Morgan was injured and didn't play.
■ Wayne County basketball star Peyton Woods, who had 2,467 points and 362 three-pointers in his career, will sign with UT-Chattanooga Friday. Woods will be the first signee for new Mocs coach Matt McCall. Chattanooga hired McCall, 33, who had been an assistant at Florida, two weeks ago when Will Wade left to succeed Shaka Smart at VCU. In 1997, Wayne County star David Phillips signed with Chattanooga and went on to score 1,157 points for the Mocs. He still ranks eighth on the program's all-time scoring list.
■ Isaac Wilson, who played on Corbin's 2009 and 2010 Sweet Sixteen teams, is the new boys' basketball coach at Middlesboro. Wilson played college ball at Alice Lloyd. He was an assistant at Hazard this past season. Wilson, 23, said he's grateful for the chance to be a head coach at his age, and he thinks his youth will help him relate to his players. "It'll be a good thing that they'll see their coach get out there and play a little bit with them, show them how some things are done," said Wilson, a former point guard.
■ Jason Hinson, who guided Augusta to stunning upsets of Mason County in the 39th District tournament in 2013 and '14, is leaving to take over as coach at Bracken County, his alma mater. Hinson had a four-year record of 77-47 record at Augusta.
■ K.C. Goodin, who was an assistant to Happy Osborne at Kentucky Wesleyan last season, is the new boys' coach at Louisville Butler. Goodin was a star athlete at LaRue County and played college hoops at Carson-Newman and Georgetown College. Before joining Osborne's staff at Kentucky Wesleyan, Goodin coached at Doss for four years.
■ Newport Central Catholic point guard Zack Pangallo, who helped the Thoroughbreds to three consecutive All "A" Classic titles, is headed to Carson-Newman, an NCAA Division II school in Jefferson City, TN.
■ The Tyson Gay Invitational is Saturday, but the track and field meet won't be at Lafayette, Gay's alma mater. Lafayette's Ishmael Stadium will be used as part of the school's 75th anniversary celebration, so the Tyson Gay Invitational instead will be at Henry Clay, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.
■ Lexington Christian's Sam Arnold was named to Tom Leach's fifth annual Kentucky National Guard All-Resilient Team. Arnold overcame a series of injuries to play football for the Eagles last fall. In nominating his senior receiver/defensive back, Coach Ethan Atchley said Arnold "showed the toughness and grit to push through injuries" to help bring a "winning tradition back to LCA football." Lexington Catholic freshman wrestler Adam Bender, who lost his left leg to cancer when he was 1, also made the all-resilient team. He finished fourth in the state in the 106-pound division. For a list of all the honorees, go to tomleachky.com.
■ Mason County's new football coach is Jonathan Thomas, who's been an assistant the last 12 years. Thomas will succeed David Buchanan, who is leaving the Royals for Mercer County.
■ Bath County has hired Johnny Poynter as its football coach. Poynter was at Bellevue the past two years. He's also coached at Bourbon County, Trimble County and Pike County Central.
■ Paul Laurence Dunbar junior swimmer Madison Winstead has commited to UK. Winstead is strongest in the breaststroke, but also swims the butterfly and freestyle. Her versatility should give her a chance to contribute as a freshman.