Standing Room Only Tribute For Lionel Langford

Blue Raider State Mat Champ Laid to Rest

Thursday, July 25, 2013 - by B.B. Branton

In Feb. 1988, a standing room only crowd at UTC's Maclellan Gym watched as Cleveland High School senior Lionel Langford won a state championship in his last match in a Blue Raider singlet.

Thursday afternoon inside Shiloh Baptist Church in Cleveland, another overflow crowd paid tribute to Langford - a wrestler, husband and father - who passed away last week at 43.

Hall of Fame wrestling coach Al Miller was sitting in the corner cheering on his wrestler in 1988 as well as today.

"Lionel was a free spirit to say the least and one who had to try things his way - at least at first," said Miller with a smile.

"Eventually he would come back around to our (coaching staff) way of doing things, but he definitely had a mind of his own."

Pre-Match Donuts: Miller tells the story of Langford's pre-match meal at a tournament in December of his senior year. 

"We were at a tournament in upper East Tennessee and I made the mistake of giving each wrestler meal money for the day, instead of having team meals together," Miller stated.

"Lionel was a returning state runner-up from 1987 with a real shot at winning a state championship."

One of three wrestling Langford brothers - along with Howard (1986 state champ) and Shelton plus nephew Quantel - Lionel was not on top of his game that weekend and fell short of winning the tournament.

"I found out later that Lionel's 'pre-match meal' was a bag of white powdered donuts which led to his loss to a good Science Hill wrestler," Miller stated.

Fast forward to the 160 pound Region 1 finals in early February where Langford tech falls the same Science Hill wrestler (Brian Pardue), 25-9, and wins his state title the next weekend (Pardue placed fourth).

"LIonel had the talent, but at times he just needed the coaches to keep him on the straight and narrow," Miller said.

A wrestling champion and military vet who made his family proud, did push the envelope at times, but knew all too well the need to stay focused on the eternal straight and narrow all the way to the final whistle.

Mat Notes: Lionel's son Caleb (has graduated) and Micah (rising senior) have wrestled for Alan Morris at Walker Valley ... Lione's nephew, Quantel, wrestled for Cleveland in the mid-1990s.

contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net

.

 

 

 

 



PHOTOS: McMinn defeats Soddy Daisy, 58-30

Lee Men, Women Win Tuesday

The Lee men's basketball team led from start to finish on Tuesday night in a dominating 71-46 victory over Cumberland University from Walker Arena. Sophomore Ryan Montgomery led the way with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The Chattanooga Central product electrified the home crowd with a powerful, breakaway two-handed slam late in the first half. I just thought ... (click for more)

Man Barges Into Woman's Home In MLK Neighborhood; Tries To Rape Her; Photos Of Suspect Released; Thomas Carr, 28, Is Arrested

Chattanooga Police said a man barged into a woman's home in the MLK Neighborhood around noon on Tuesday and tried to rape the woman.   Thomas Lee Carr, 28, was taken into custody on Wednesday morning. Carr is charged with one count of attempted rape. Police said, "The victim was followed by the suspect into her residence where the victim was then ... (click for more)

Moccasin Bend Resident Asks City To Move Police Firing Range So He Can Open Bed And Breakfast Inn

A Moccasin Bend resident is asking the city to move a police firing range from off the historic Bend so he can open a bed and breakfast inn. Steve Holmes also said the move needs to take place because the new Moccasin Bend National Park is set to begin implementing its management plan early next year. He said the park should bring 250,000 visitors to Chattanooga each year with ... (click for more)

Vince Dean Saved The Day

Permit me to publicly express appreciation to Vince Dean. His calm, comprehensive and diplomatic arguments to the Chattanooga City Council against the administration’s ill-advised plan to segregate retirees and herd them unwillingly into a separate insurance plan unquestionably saved the day. The proposed new plan, if implemented, was certain to cause months of chaos and confusion ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Let’s Focus On ‘Better’

As I stepped away from the overflow crowd at  Monday  night’s Town Council meeting on Signal Mountain, I leaned in to tell Jean Trohanis how sorry I was to hear of the loss of her dearest friend. But in that millisecond before I could speak, the former but still-loved elementary school principal gave me her best hallway hiss and, with a pointed finger, she ordered, “You ... (click for more)