Champs In Vegas
Last January Win
Regional Prior To
Defense Of Title
BY KEN LITTLE
One brick at a time, Fred Campbell and Tony Shelton carefully built their way to a first-place finish Saturday at the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 regional competition held at the Greene County Fairgrounds.
Campbell, owner of Creative Masonry in Greeneville, and Shelton, his tender, had already earned a return trip to the Bricklayer 500 national competition in January 2014 in Las Vegas by virtue of their national championship victory this past January.
Campbell and Shelton finished with the highest score out of 14 teams participating in the regional competition Saturday at the Jim Saulsbury Arena.
Also Las Vegas-bound for the world's best bricklayer showdown on Jan. 22 are the second-place finishers, bricklayer Darrell Evett and tender Joey Evans, from Evett Masonry, in Scottsboro, Ala.
SPEC MIX SPONSOR
The annual competition is sponsored by Spec Mix.
Campbell, whose bricklaying skills took top national honors in January, was quietly confident Saturday before the competition in Greeneville.
Once it started, he and Shelton worked with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine in taking the regional bricklayer title.
"I know what to do now," said Campbell, who won several regional Bricklayer 500 regional events before succeeding in January on the big stage in Las Vegas.
There is more to the national bricklayer title than bragging rights. Campbell won a Ford F250 pickup truck and $5,000 cash.
His whole family, including wife Sharon and the couple's children, traveled to Las Vegas in January to support Campbell.
The January 2014 competition for Campbell and Shelton will be their fourth.
'A LOT OF FUN'
"It's just a lot of fun. Then you get a free trip to Las Vegas, too," Shelton said.
If he wins the 2014 competition, Campbell plans to acknowledge Shelton's contributions to his success in a special way.
"It's a team effort. That's why I told him this year I'll give him the truck," Campbell said.
At least four of the teams participating Saturday were from Greene County. Competitors also came from elsewhere in Tennessee, along with Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia.
One interested spectator was Jeff Idell of Greeneville, owner of Idell Construction Co. Idell has worked with many of the local bricklayers and can attest to their skills.
Idell pointed out Campbell and Shelton as they worked steadily to complete a brick wall during the competition.
"You can see the rhythm and the difference (from challengers)," Idell said. "He's got a totally different style."
Spec Mix provided the judges for the competition. Participants had one hour to build a 26-foot, 8-inch double wall.
Standards are high.
"He has to get this corner set just right. It has to be level," Idell said.
Another Greene County team working next to Campbell and Shelton was also from Creative Masonry. Its members were Joe Higgins and Javiar Chantaca.
A third team consisted of Manuel Hernandez and Jose Luis Perez.
Ryan Coyne, a Spec Mix regional sales manager who was doubling as a judge Saturday, said there are 11 quality-related criteria considered by judges in deciding a winner.
"It's not just about speed," Coyne said.
Added Idell: "It's pretty cool that Spec Mix recognizes the talent of the bricklayers and gives them the opportunity to show their abilities."
Competitors enjoyed the challenge of squaring off against other bricklayers from the region.
"It's just good hard work. Probably that's the reason I'm a mason," said Danny Hunley, a foreman with Circle C Masonry in Kingsport. Hunley was watching the Circle C team compete.
"The more bricks you lay, the more cash you've got in your pocket," Hunley said.
For more information about the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 competition, go to http://www.specmixbricklayer500.com/