Businessman Allan Jones honored the Cleveland Blue Raiders coaching staff Tuesday night for their contributions in setting a Tennessee record by winning five straight championships earlier this year.
Mr. Jones spoke to the wrestlers at the team’s annual banquet, held at his Creekridge estate. The banquet was a joint-function that also honored the Cleveland High School cheerleaders and had over 160 attendees.
“This was the greatest season any high school wrestling team has ever had and now that we are the winningest program in Tennessee history - it’s just the beginning,” said Mr. Jones, as he presented each Cleveland coach with a personalized trophy. “No one has been able to stop us, although Bradley has closed the gap. We know they aren’t going to quit and we don’t want them to quit. Our two teams need to be at each other’s heels to make us great, just like Baylor needs McCallie!”
The Blue Raiders made headlines in February when they swept the state championships for duals and traditional tournament competition in TSSAA Division I's highest classification five seasons in a row, a total of 10 consecutive state championships (both dual and traditional). The history making tournament took place at the Williamson Ag Expo Center in Franklin.
Mr. Jones said he had watched wrestling for 50 years but never seen a match as exciting as the TSSAA Finals, where it all came down to the last match with both Cleveland and Bradley winning seven matches. Cleveland eventually won with 34 to Bradley’s 28.
“Both team ran roughshod over the rest of the state,” he said. “This all started with the Higher Calling Kids Wrestling Club and the six-year plan I was asked to put together back in 2006. This can’t be purchased and it’s not wrestling buildings – it is the work ethic of the coaches and Josh Bosken with Higher Calling. These coaches have dedicated thousands of hours of their time.”
Mr. Jones added that in the last 10 years, Cleveland wrestling has had 85 TSSAA state medalists, 41 state finalists, 26 state champions and eight TSSAA team championships.
“Since 1994, 21 of 27 state wrestling championships have been won by our two local schools and 25 State dual championships have been won by Bradley or Cleveland with 26 coming this year in Franklin,” Mr. Jones said.
Mr. Jones praised Head Coach Joey Knox for winning a state championship every year since he took over the team in 2017.
“You have guided this team to 18 individual state titles, with 11 wrestlers earning them,” said Mr. Jones. “Five of those wrestlers were two- or three-time champions.”
Coach Knox accepted his trophy and told the crowd: “The streak we are on is unreal. Our practices and work ethic are at the highest level and we are just going to work harder. Everyone has pushed one another to be the best – but we are never going to be satisfied. We want to keep winning!”
The coach then presented Mr. Jones with a special gift from the team: a Blue Raiders singlet worn by Ashton Davis during the epic Jan. 13 Dual Meet against Bradley, in which Cleveland won its fifth straight Duals title and broke Bradley’s previous record of four.
Mr. Jones accepted the singlet with enthusiasm and then looked to the future.
“This team is wrestling as great as they possibly could and created a monumental moment in Tennessee history,” he said. “But after tonight, we have to get back to work so we can do it again next year!”
Coaches who received trophies from Mr. Jones during the event were Knox, Bosken, Jacob Murphy, Eric Mountain, John Weiss, Landon Reed, and Wilson Benefield.
Other highlights of the 2022 banquet:
Newly-elected Cleveland City School Board Member Matthew Coleman made a special appearance at the banquet to present Senior Ashton Davis with the Coleman Award, which is given annually to honor the Coleman family’s legacy of excellence in Cleveland wrestling.
Cleveland wrestling legend Johnny Lennon made a surprise appearance at the banquet to present Tetoe Boyd with the Jeff Howard award, given in honor of the late Cleveland wrestling legend Jeff Howard. Howard’s mother, Theresa, presented the award to Boyd alongside Lennon.
Coach Knox honored the Blue Raiders freshman wrestlers (the Class of 2025): Zach Bosken, Chase Walker, Kaden Rice, Cy Fowler, Lucas Szymborski, Roman York, Turner Hendrix, Hayden Norman, and Stonewall Shurette.
Sophomore wrestlers honored were: State Champion Logan Fowler, Dylan Harrold, Camden Lockerby, and Christian Chavez Baker.
Junior Blue Raiders honored: Daniel Sims, Bentley Ellison, Cole Dyer, Jared Canalas, and Ethan Burns.
Senior Blue Raiders honored at the banquet: State Champion Ashton Davis, David Giraldo, Desmond Prigmore, State Champion Tetoe Boyd, Hagen Cooper, Arlo Laxton, Blake Randall, Jax Ernest, Jaden Acevedo.
State Placers honored at the banquet were: Chase Walker, Zach Bosken, Bentley Ellison, Logan Fowler, Arlo Laxton, Tetoe Boyd, Ashton Davis, Jax Ernest, Lucas Szymborski, Cy Fowler.
The 2022 Academic Award was given by Coach John Weiss to Senior David Giraldo.
Coach Weiss gave the 2022 Match Terminator award to Senior Ashton Davis.
Senior Arlo Laxton received the prestigious Dan Harmon Coaches Award.
Coaches Weiss and Wilson Benefield gave the Fearless Raider award to two wrestlers: Senior Blake Randall and Junior Jared Canalas.