Friday, February 15, 2013
- by B.. Branton
"I truly believe Cleveland is one of the coolest wrestling communities in America, and it is largely due to the heart and passion that Al Miller has had for this sport over the last 40 or so years."
--- Cleveland High School Athletics Director Eric Phillips
Retiring hall of fame wrestling coach Al Miller has been waiting four decades and now his bucket list is full.
A fixture at Cleveland High School since the early 1970s, Miller retires as a wrestling coach this weekend at the TSSAA state traditional wrestling tournament in Franklin and will witness his last graduation as a faculty member later this spring.
“Coaching high school kids during the winter months for 40 years I have never been able to see some of the great college wrestling matches such as Iowa-Iowa State, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State and Penn State-Iowa,” said Miller who is a member of the Cleveland Old-Timers, Greater Chattanooga and National Wrestling Halls of Fame.
Using the sport of wrestling as the catalyst, Miller has coached junior teams in nearly every corner of the globe and has been to numerous World Cup, World Championship and Olympic Games competitions.
He has more frequent-flyer miles than John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
And now he wants to visit the great college wrestling venues in America.
“I look forward to sitting in the stands and watching matches at such great legendary schools in our sport such as Lehigh, Iowa, Iowa State, the Oklahoma schools and many others.
“I want to plan a trip up East and watch practice at prep power Blair Academy (J.J.) as they prepare for a big match or tournament.”
But before he and several wrestling gym rat friends load up the van for wrestling parts unknown, he and Cleveland head coach Jake Yost look to close out the Miller Wrestling Era with one more state title for the Blue Raider nation.
Entering Friday morning’s championship quarterfinals of the 53rd annual state tournament in Franklin, Cleveland held a 30+ point lead over second plae Beech High School and with all 14 wrestlers still alive in either the championship or consolation brackets, the Blue Raiders are a heavy favorite to win their fourth state traditional team crown.
Cleveland High School Athletics Director Eric Phillips --
“Al has such an incredible love for the sport of wrestling. I have never known anyone that loves it at all levels like Coach Miller does.
“He enjoys teaching moves to kids who have been wrestling for two2 days just as much as he enjoys talking about a match he saw in a barn in Russia. His genuine love for the sport has helped the Cleveland community become a hot bed for wrestling.
“I truly believe Cleveland is one of the coolest wrestling communities in America, and it is largely due to the heart and passion that al miller has had for this sport over the last 40 or so years. Whether his teams were winning state titles or sitting in Bradley's shadow, Al’s consistency has kept Cleveland in all conversations when talking about Tennessee wrestling. Myself, Heath Eslinger, and Jake Yost have all benefited greatly from the foundation that he built.”
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com