Cleveland HS Wrestling - Its Humble Beginning

Blue Raiders in State Duals Semifinals

Friday, February 1, 2013 - by BB. Branton

“If I was a high school football coach, all my linemen would wrestle. What you learn from wrestling - self-discipline, stamina and the ability to protect your legs - can be transferred to football."

-- Bill Emendorfer, Cleveland HS’s first state wrestling champion (1968, heavyweight)



From practices held in a junior high science class on used YMCA mats in the mid-1960s to a new millennium state power, the Cleveland Blue Raider mat program has won five state titles (traditional and duals) in three different decades with 20+  individual champs.

“We were a new high school in the fall of 1964 and, of course, a new wrestling program and to say we didn’t know much was an understatement,” said Bill Emendorfer with a laugh who was the program’s first state champ in 1968.

“Any success we had was due to pure athletic ability and hard work.”

State Duals Semis: The Blue Raiders have continued the hard work over the years and are in the D-I AAA state duals semifinals Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Williamson County Ag Expo in Franklin. Longtime rival Soddy Daisy is in the semis in the other half bracket as the two teams hope to meet in the finals Saturday night.

On Friday, Cleveland defeated Cordova (73-0) in the round of 16 and Clarksville (61-12) in the quarters, while Soddy Daisy stopped Science Hill (51-16) in the round of 16 and Maryville (31-30). Soddy Daisy won the state duals and traditional crowns a year ago and Cleveland won the state traditional in 2011.

 Emendorfer did note that Blue Raider coach Jim Tanara took some of the wrestlers to summer camps at such top college schools as Oklahoma, Iowa and Iowa State.

“We (coaches and wrestlers) were learning together and those summer wrestling camps were invaluable to us,” Emendorfer stated.

Evidently, the Athens, Tenn. native was a quick learner as he won the aforementioned state, was also a state runner-up in 1969, won two region titles and lost only three matches in three years.

Emendorfer’s success has been repeated by such Blue Raider legends as Johnny Lennon, Hank Howard, Carlos Thompson and Danny Coleman.

Emendorfer Notes: After Emendorfer’s junior year, coach Tanara became an assistant football coach and head wrestling coach at Alabama … Though heavily recruited to sign with Alabama by coach Tanara, Emendorfer decided to stay in state to and wrestle and play football at Tennessee.

“Choosing to sign with Tennessee and having to say no to coach Tanara was such a difficult decision for me since he was a good friend of our family,” stated Emendorfer who was a two-time All-SEC offensive lineman for the Vols under coach Bill Battle and was also chosen for the sophomore All-American team in 1970 . 

Blue Raider Football: Emendorfer played five years on the varsity football team (8th grade year the team played a JV schedule in the school’s first year, 1964-65) … he led them to three bowl game victories and a 10-0 record as a senior in the fall of 1968.

Contact B.B. Branton at

Lee Lacrosse Wins 17-12 Over Montevallo

The Lee lacrosse team exacted some revenge after an earlier season loss to Montevallo in winning their first home conference game 17-12 over the Falcons on a windy and cold Wednesday afternoon at the South Quad Field.   "We have been working hard all week preparing for this rematch with Montevallo. The girls put a lot of time and energy into correcting the little mistakes ... (click for more)

East Ridge Soccer Wind 8-0

The East Ridge boys soccer team improved to 5-0-1 Wednesday night with an 8-0 win over Sequatchie County.  Bryan Paz-Macario and Rijad Kazic each had two goals for East Ridge.   Adam Adem, Luis Padilla and Zhubin Salih had one goal.   Rijad Kazic had two assists.  Abdallah Albobsairy, Adam Adem, Bryan Alonzo, Erik Lopez and Zhubin Salih each ... (click for more)

Alexander Says Chickamauga Lock Construction Fully Funded For 4th Consecutive Year

Senator Lamar Alexander on Wednesday said the government funding bill will fully fund construction of Chickamauga Lock for the fourth consecutive year, providing up to $78 million – which is more than twice the amount of funding the project received last year.   Senator Alexander said he has made completion of Chickamauga Lock one of his top priorities as chairman ... (click for more)

Former Juvenile Court Magistrate Says Gay Marriage Is "Nothing You Put In Air Quotes"

A former magistrate at Juvenile Court, who claims she was fired by Judge Rob Philyaw because she is openly gay, said Wednesday that gay marriage "is nothing you put in air quotes." She referred to County Attorney Rheubin Taylor asking her about her ceremony in marrying another woman and raising his hands to form quote marks. Elizabeth Gentzler is suing Hamilton County, Judge ... (click for more)

Avoid Underage Drinking And Other Prom Drama

My high school prom took a dramatic turn when two guys got their tuxedo jackets mixed up. One of them belonged to my date, who kindly offered to keep my wallet in his pocket. That’s the jacket another young man mistakenly grabbed off the back of a chair before heading to an underage drinking party that got shut down by police well after midnight—as kids scattered in every direction.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sheriff’s Request

Jim Hammond will talk to members of the Hamilton County School Board on Thursday afternoon and, just like any police officer in the United States, he will request that everybody “stay in their own lane.” Some school board members tend to believe they need to help decide the best methods of protecting our children. They believe this is one of the things they were elected to do in ... (click for more)