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

Dalton State Golfers Jump To Sixth In Coaches Poll

NORMAN, Okla. –  Oklahoma City claimed nine of 10 first-place votes to remain No. 1 in the Bushnell Golfweek NAIA Coaches Poll. The defending national champions have been the top-ranked NAIA team for four-straight polls.    Texas Wesleyan earned the remaining first-place vote. British Columbia was third and followed by Wayland Baptist, Victoria,  ... (click for more)

Road Runners Fifth And Sixth At Sand Shark Invitational

HARDEEVILLE, Sc. - The Dalton State cross country teams had a strong day on Saturday in the Sand Shark Invitational, hosted by the University of South Carolina-Beaufort in Hardeeville, SC.  The women's team finished a solid 5th while the men came home in 6th.  The women's race comprised of 27 teams and the men's race had 23 teams competing.  All-American Emily ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke, Lacie Stone Were At Swanky New York City Hotel While Bobby Stone Was Plying The River

Mayor Andy Berke's top advisor Lacie Stone accompanied him on a trip to New York City on April 12-13 and they ended up at a swanky spot where Ms. Stone's husband, Bobby, had taken her before. They sat at the Stones' favorite table.   Bobby Stone, who has accused his wife of having an affair with the mayor, has said that Lacie Stone told him that she and the mayor kissed ... (click for more)

Fire Displaces Family Of 7; Blaze Ruled Accidental

No injuries were reported in connection with a house fire on Saturday afternoon that displaced a family of seven. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at 4:11 p.m. and responded to 3308 Dodson Ave. with five fire companies. Captain Wadie Suttles with Engine 4 said heavy fire was showing when the first firefighters arrived on the scene. As additional firefighters ... (click for more)

Please, No Short Term Vacation Rentals In My Neighborhood

Approval of the short term vacation rental item on the City Council agenda for Tuesday  will be the next step toward commercializing our residential properties and communities to benefit those more interested in making money than preserving an old, well-established, rich community of like-minded families.    Anything requiring a business license is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Kelly Could Win It

I am neither a sleuth nor an odds maker but I’d say there is about a one-in-three chance that Interim Hamilton County Department of Education Superintendent Kirk Kelly could become the permanent superintendent of our public schools next Thursday. I am assured something squirrelly is happening on our newly-seated school board. It has been seven months since the last superintendent ... (click for more)