Fred Campbell Was Trying To Defend His World Title In Annual Masonry Competition
BY KEN LITTLE
The bricks didn't fall into place exactly the way Fred Campbell had hoped Wednesday, but he's taking everything in stride.
Campbell, who lives on Milburnton Road in Limestone and operates Jonesborough-based Creative Masonry Inc., was trying to repeat his first-place finish last year in the 2014 Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 competition, held in Las Vegas.
Several factors contributed to a fourth- or fifth-place finish on Wednesday for Campbell, who was reached by telephone Thursday night in Las Vegas.
Campbell wasn't sure of his exact finishing spot in the grueling competition, but vowed to compete for the title of the world's best bricklayer again in 2015.
"We came up a little short this run. I had a bad day, and some other guys had better days," said Campbell, who still finished in the top five among 20 competitors from two countries who had advanced to Las Vegas from regional competitions.
The winner of the 2014 Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 event was Jerry Goodman and tender Heidi Albea, from Blythewood, S.C. Albea is Goodman's daughter, Campbell said.
Campbell and his mason tender, Tony Shelton, had high hopes when they began the long drive to Las Vegas about a week ago.
Campbell and Shelton had a 22-member rooting section at the event, including their families and other supporters. One group traveled to Las Vegas in a 15-passenger van, Campbell said.
Campbell and Shelton were in a groove last year at the 2013 competition on their way to the Spec Mix 500 title, and swept away all regional competition in September at an event in Greeneville.
Campbell was ready to win another title on Wednesday, but unexpected factors intervened.
Campbell said before leaving for Las Vegas that he practiced at his shop for several days using bricks and mortar similar to what was provided at last year's competition.
"The brick was a little different, and the mortar was a little different [at the competition]," he said. "I think that's what threw me off."
About 4,000 people watched the competition, held annually at the 2014 World of Concrete/World of Masonry trade show.
During the competition, each mason must meet the quality standards of the event as the mason builds a 26-foot, 8-inch double wythe.
Wythe is a masonry term for a vertical section of masonry that is one unit thick, meaning it is constructed from a single line of masonry units.
The winner is chosen based on the highest net brick count after subtracting for any quality violations. Judges include 30 journeyman-level bricklayers and masonry instructors from across North America.
"I feel pretty good (finishing in the top) 20 guys from around the world," Campbell said.
The news wasn't all bad. Shelton, owner of Limestone Construction, won the "toughest tender" award among all mason tenders in the competition, winning a cash prize and "a bunch of tools," Campbell said.
Now that the pressure is off, Campbell and others who went to Las Vegas with them for the competition plan to relax there for a few days.
"It's good to come out here and spend time with family and friends. It's been a nice trip, win or lose," he said
"There are very few people who get a chance to do that. (Spec Mix) paid for it and gave us a chance to come out here."
Not winning this year hasn't lessened Campbell's resolve. His first-place prizes in 2013 included $5,000 cash and a 2013 Ford F-250 4-by-4 XLT truck loaded with special features.
"We'll be back next year," Campbell said.