Longtime Fannin County basketball coach Johnny Farmer will lead off the 2014 inductees today in Dalton for the Georgia High School Coaches Hall of Fame. The other five going into the shrine housed at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center include Thomas "T" McFerrin, whose 37-year career in the state included the 1984 season and a 7-3 record at Southeast Whitfield, and Rodney Walker, whose football achievements included a stint at Gilmer County. The others going into the 14th class are Buck Godfrey, Lee Cower and Jimmy Hires. Hall of Fame festivities included a golf event Friday and a reception Friday night. The induction lunch starts at 11:30 a.m. Farmer played basketball and baseball at Fannin County and returned to the Blue Ridge school after playing four years of basketball for coach Cliff Ellis at Cumberland Junior College and South Alabama, and he coached girls' basketball from 1981 to 2006 and boys' basketball, including his two sons, from 2007 to 2011. His overall record was 577-239 with Class AA state championships in 1993 and 1999 and runner-up finishes in 1997 and 2004, the latter in AAA. "I'm just a little old country boy, and it hasn't really set in," said Farmer, who lives now in McCaysville. "I just wanted to coach basketball. I never figured on any great honors like this."
• University of Georgia junior Brandon Lord from Chattanooga and Baylor School qualified for the NCAA Division I outdoor track and field meet at Eugene, Ore., with a seventh-place finish Friday in the 10,000-meter run at the East Regional meet at Jacksonville, Fla. The top 12 qualified for the nationals, and Lord was running second until the last lap. He will run in the 5000 today, when the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Teghan Henderson will be in the women's 5000. Lord, who won the 10k and finished second in the 5k at the Southeastern Conference meet, ran the 10k Thursday in 29 minutes, 54.84 seconds. Also this week he was named an SEC co-scholar athlete of the year for outdoor track.
• Covenant College junior Beth Burgess was another area runner announced this week as a Capital One Academic All-District honoree, in her case for NCAA Division III. The honor from the College Sports Information Directors of America is added to her all-academic award from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The biology major with math and biblical and theological studies minors entered the spring semester with a 3.91 cumulative grade point average. Earlier in the school year, Covenant volleyball player Stephanie Kirkpatrick, soccer player Shuler Polk and basketball player Jessie Blankenship earned CoSIDA academic recognition.
• Jordan Widelock was introduced Friday as the new tennis coach at Dalton High School, succeeding David Hilley, who knew Widelock from city adult league play and contacted him about succeeding him. Widelock already is in the Dalton school system, teaching science at Morris Innovative High School. "We are excited about him joining our staff," athletic director Jeff McKinney said in an email, "and look forward to him continuing the success of our tennis program Coach Hilley has established." Widelock, 31, played four years of varsity tennis at Bakersfield (Calif.) High School and was ranked in the top 25 in the state in doubles and the top 100 in singles. Passing up college tennis offers, he earned degrees from the University of Southern California and a law degree from the San Joaquin College of Law, and during that time he helped coach tennis in the Nike junior program and at junior college in Bakersfield. He met with some of the Dalton players and parents Friday and said that "went well." About the job, he said, "I am looking forward to it. I know I have big shoes to fill, but I'm excited for the challenge and hope we can make David and the rest of Dalton High School proud."