Skip to main content
A1 A1
New interim fire chief selected

At its meeting on Monday night at the Hartsville-Trousdale County Community Center, the Trousdale County Commission unanimously voted to approve the appointment of a new interim fire chief for a term of 60 days, following the resignation of Trousdale County Fire Chief Jay Woodard on Feb. 14.

Mark Beeler, a veteran of the Trousdale County Volunteer Fire Department for more than 30 years, was chosen by Trousdale County Mayor Jack McCall, and pending commission approval, he agreed to fill the position as interim fire chief while the search for a permanent one continues.

Before making an appointment and seeking final approval from the county commission, the mayor met with volunteer firefighters last week to get feedback from the department as they voted on who they wanted to see fill the position as interim chief.

“I met with the all the volunteers of the fire department this past week, seeking to find a consensus among all of our volunteers,” said McCall.

“At the end of the discussion, they voted unanimously to appoint Mark Beeler (as interim fire chief) for a stint of 60 days.”

“There was a really good feeling in the room, and, again, (the firefighters) voted unanimously for Mark Beeler to be the interim chief.”

Before his current appointment as interim chief, Beeler was serving as a safety officer in the department and was formerly the long-time assistant chief, but he stepped back when Jay Woodard was appointed as fire chief. Beeler also served as interim chief for approximately two years prior to his present appointment.

“I was one of the safety officers at this current time,” said Beeler. “I had been assistant chief for a long time. But once the commission chose Mr. Woodard, as a previous high-ranking officer, I chose to step toward the background.”

Although Beeler has been selected as the interim, he says that he is not interested in filling the permanent position as fire chief.

“Mark has been interim chief before,” said McCall. “(He) expressed to the fire department that he was not interested in being the fire chief long term but was willing to come in and settle things down.”

According to McCall, if a new chief has not been selected within 60 days, Beeler’s short-term appointment can be revisited and possibly extended as needed.

Priceless perfection

FRANKLIN — Trousdale County High School junior Rob Atwood is one who sticks with his routine.

He has done the same thing, over and over … and he hopes to do it over again.

Atwood won his second consecutive Class A state championship on Saturday afternoon, defeating Samuel Everett School of Innovation freshman Tyson Click at the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) Individual State Wrestling Championships at the Williamson County Expo Center.

“It’s really hard to explain,” Atwood said. “There’s excitement. At the same time, you still have to get better. There’s fulfillment … but you’re not fulfilled all the way, because there’s another year and more that I need to accomplishment.”

Atwood posted three pinfalls among his four matches at the state level.

“I go in unplanned in my matches,” the 17-year-old Atwood said. “I don’t watch (opposing wrestlers beforehand) preferably. Sometimes, I might see them, because they are wrestling one of my friends.

“You always have to stay humble.”

Atwood pinned Click 1:45 into the six-minute match, utilizing a blast double.

“It’s similar to a football takedown,” Atwood said. “It was a kind of fulfillment (when the match ended).

“When you put him to your back, it takes some of that pressure (off).”

Despite moving up from the 195-pound weight class that he competed in as a sophomore to the 220-pound class that he competed in as a junior, Atwood’s strategy didn’t change.

“Speed kills,” Atwood said. “When you’re wrestling someone who is heavier that doesn’t have that speed, you can beat them with speed.

“They know how to use their weight and push people around, but they’re not always strong. At 220, they know how to use their weight to their advantage.”

The state competition began on Thursday as he opened up with a 20-5 victory over Pigeon Forge sophomore Enrique Reyez 5:41 into the match, which ended at that point due to the margin reaching 15 points.

Later on Thursday, he defeated Creek Wood junior Andrew Grove by pinfall just 1:44 into the match.

Then, on Friday, Atwood reached the championship match by pinning Signal Mountain senior Jacob Winchester by pinfall 3:22 into the match.

Atwood completed an unbeaten season at 37-0. In three years of high-school competition, his record is 81-5.

For the second consecutive season, he also won regional and sectional titles (winning three matches at each level). The 5-foot-10, 210-pound standout was selected as the most outstanding wrestler for the heavier weight class at the regional and sectional.

However, Atwood’s post-match celebration was rather subdued as he had been promised a steak dinner by a Hartsville dining establishment if he won another state title.

“I went to Farmer’s Harvest, ate and then went home and went to bed,” Atwood said.

That fits perfectly in his routine. Atwood is consistently early to bed and an early riser, and protein is a key component to his training regimen.

“During the week, I start my morning usually around 5 or 5:15,” Atwood said. “I work out. I adapted my father (Robby) to be my personal trainer. Then, I go to school. Then, I leave school and go to practice (at either Green Hill High School, Wilson Central High, or Cumberland University). They’re very generous. As soon as I get back to practice that night, usually, me and dad are in the gym doing something.”

In fact, many of those wrestlers from those schools that Atwood practices at were in attendance to support him at the state tournament. Among those was one of the individuals who he trains with, Jake Williams (a two-time national champion and four-time All-American at Cumberland who works with area wrestlers as a part of Next Level Wrestling Club).

“They are wonderful about accepting him,” Rob’s mother, Beverly Atwood, said. “All of them have been super accepting of him. Wilson Central was there. Green Hill has been there. Cumberland’s coach (James Hicks) and some of the Cumberland wrestlers were there. It was awesome that they were there being very supportive.”

Atwood has had the same coach for the past two years, Kevin English with the Indiana-based Elite Athletic Club.

“We travel a lot during the summer,” Beverly Atwood — who coaches Rob (the only TCHS wrestler) during the high-school season along with her husband — said. “We do a lot of traveling with different coaches from other states. He’s on a lot of duals teams. We were in Virginia Beach (Virginia), Iowa, Indiana. We’ve traveled as far as (Las) Vegas for him to compete. As soon as high-school ends, his training will keep going. He’s going to (the 34th annual National High School Coaches Association) High School Nationals in Virginia Beach in late March.

“You have kids from all over (the country) on your team. He has kids from California. They are from all over.”

As part of his routine, Rob runs between four and five miles every Friday, regardless of the weather, and that celebratory steak is a common part of his daily diet.

“Every day, I eat over 20 ounces of meat,” Rob Atwood said. “It’s nearly two pounds of meat a day. I drink 1 ½ to two gallons of water a day. It’s very brutal.”

However, Atwood had to go off script to help him gain weight so that he could bump up in weight class this season.

“To put on this weight to go up from 195 to 220, every day, I ate half a gallon of ice cream a day for three weeks,” Atwood said.

Atwood began wrestling at age 4 and competed with youth teams based out of Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and Wilson Central.

“I won one or two (state championships) when I was AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) wrestling,” Atwood said. “It’s almost all wrestlers’ dream when they go into high school.”

Prior to competing in the NHSCA High School Nationals, Atwood will be a part of the Tennessee-Georgia Border Wars event on March 11.

He plans to attend recruiting camps at Appalachian State (North Carolina) University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and he plans to visit military colleges, having already scheduled a visit to Virginia Military Institute.

Though his fourth-place finish as a freshman will prevent Atwood from winning state titles in all four years of his high-school career, Atwood has considerable respect for a legendary wrestler who accomplished that feat at the collegiate level.

“I kind of want to be like Kyle Dake (who wrestled at New York’s Cornell University from 2010-13),” Atwood said. “He did something that was fairly well-known. He was a four-time national champion in four different weight class (the only collegiate wrestler to accomplish that).

“But, if I intend to wrestle in college, I cannot get over 220.”

However, Atwood would like to conclude his career with three consecutive state titles, and with the TSSAA currently looking at three different configurations of setting its weight classes going forward, he might technically be wrestling in a different weight class as a senior (as there may be a 215-pound weight class with no 220-pound class any longer).

“It’s quite fulfilling,” Atwood said of the back-to-back state championships. “I have one chance to do what I’m pretty sure nobody in Trousdale County history has done. That’s a three-peat (the TCHS football program has twice won back-to-back titles, from 1997-98 and 2008-09). That’s the whole goal. If I could have done a four-peat, I would have.

“It would be pretty incredible. I would be the first person in Trousdale County history.”

Pitching in so that everybody wins

The Trousdale County High School boys basketball team extended a bit of generosity to a neighboring community and learned that the final score doesn’t always determine the winner.

On Feb. 7, the Yellow Jackets played the Smith County Owls in what was to be a special day for 18-year-old Smith County basketball manager Dalton Shoulders. Shoulders, who is a high-school senior and a special-education student, has been the team manager since his freshman year, and since then, has had his heart set on playing in a game.

“We were played Trousdale County on senior night,” said Smith County High head basketball coach Trey Sanders. “Their head coach (Ryan Sleeper) is a former player of mine here at Smith County High School, and so I had contacted him the weekend before and told him what we wanted to do for Dalton. We wanted him to be able to score our first points of the night, and in return, we would let them have the ball and come down and score to tie the game.

“We had it set up so Dalton would jump center, and he’d win the tip. He tipped it to our point guard who dribbled down and passed the ball to Dalton. He took the shot and made it, so it was a good way to start the night.”

With Sleeper’s help, as the game began to wind down, Sanders was once again able to put Shoulders back in the game for a second round.

“The beautiful thing was the last part of the game where Smith County was up, and Coach Sanders kind of looked at me down the bench like, ‘Can I put Dalton back in,’ ” said Sleeper. “I said, ‘Put him in.’ ”

However, as Shoulders reentered the court, the game was suddenly unscripted. Missing his first shot, Trousdale County High School sophomore and basketball player Lukas Vest tossed the ball back to Shoulders, giving him a second try.

“He got to go back in and hit a three on his second try,” said Sleeper.

“That was the beautiful part. It was unscripted. The first part was scripted at the beginning of the game, but the last part was unscripted.

“Our team gave the ball back to him for another try, and then we celebrated with him. It showed the true character of those kids, and I was really proud of them for that. That showed me more about them than any basketball game has all year. It showed me the character of the kids and that what we are trying to build here is the right thing. We are trying to build good kids and a good foundation. That’s what it’s all about. I’ve had successful seasons and up-and-own seasons, but that moment ranks up there as to how proud I am of them. They are a good group of kids.”

According to Vest, the decision to give Shoulders another attempt at making a basket was simply because that is how he wants others to treat him.

“It was his last game,” said Vest. “If I was in that position, I would have wanted another opportunity if I missed it.

“It was a really cool experience to see him come out and play with us.”

As for Shoulders, his 15 minutes of fame stemmed from his prior work.

“I kept on practicing shooting,” said Shoulders. “It was fun.”