Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks recognized Blue Raiders Head Wrestling Coach Joey Knox and the Cleveland High School wrestling team recently for its remarkable winning streak of 120-0 - the longest of any sport in Tennessee history. Pictured from left to right: Cleveland City Schools Athletic Director Al Morris, Jr., businessman Allan Jones (major donor to Cleveland wrestling, and Mayor Brooks. The group is seen here prior to presenting Knox with the proclamation.
photo by Contributed
Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks recognized Blue Raiders Head Wrestling Coach Joey Knox and the Cleveland High School wrestling team recently for its remarkable winning streak of 120-0 - the longest of any sport in Tennessee history.
Brooks presented the team with a special proclamation honoring the streak at a special “media day” ceremony at the Jones Wrestling Center.
“Coach Knox has a career record of 163-3 and his teams have won six consecutive state championships,” said Brooks. “The team is currently ranked number one going into Joey’s seventh season. This is something everyone should be proud of. The entire wrestling world is looking at Cleveland, Tennessee!”
Businessman Allan Jones, often called the largest supporter of high school wrestling in the country, was included in the Mayor’s resolution for his longtime loyalty to the team and to Coach Knox. Jones thanked the Mayor for recognizing his efforts but declined to take any credit for the team’s success.
“I appreciate being included in the resolution, but as I have often said - it’s certainly not the building that had anything to do with this,” Jones said. “Bricks and mortar never won anything. It can all be attributed 100 percent to picking the right people.”
Jones noted that the six-year plan he implemented with other wrestling coaches and supporters in 2006 was started with the future in mind.
“What we wanted was a three-prong approach that would create a feeder system with the Higher Calling Kids Club, then to the middle school, then high school,” Jones said. “It all starts with the kid’s club, which I do finance heavily along with others like Mark Smith.”
Jones and the Mayor praised Higher Calling Head Coach Josh Bosken for his incredible work ethic, which often results in as many as 90 kids practicing in the Jones Center with the stands full of parents watching.
“Coach Bosken spends numerous weekends away from his family traveling to tournaments,” said Brooks.
Jones added that after the kids leave Bosken, they are then passed to Cleveland Middle School’s coach Evan Vermillon and excellent staff who likewise have been undefeated the past six years.
“Then to the big show - the high school - and Coach Knox and his staff who compete state-wide,” Jones said. “Coach John Weiss keeps our matches at Cleveland Middle School and Cleveland High School streamed to our many fans at Cleveland Wrestling TV and on Facebook Live.”
Cleveland opens up at home on December 1 with wrestling powerhouse McCallie. Although McCallie is a private school with unlimited resources, Cleveland may have the edge due to its three-part feeder system and outstanding coaches.
“In my senior year back in 1971, we opened up with powerhouse McCallie,” Jones remembered. “When I stepped onto the mat that November it was 56-0. We won two, me and Jim DiGennaro. It was an example of brains against bricks, with Cleveland High – the public school – having the brains.”
Jones predicts this year another “royal stomping” by Cleveland. The businessman noted that his granddaughter, Gincy Pendergrass, is a senior and is captain of the wrestling/football cheerleader team. If Knox and the Raiders finish the season undefeated, Pendergrass and three others who began cheering for wrestling in the sixth grade will have cheered their entire middle school and high school career without ever seeing a Cleveland team lose a wrestling match.
“Our community should be grateful for these excellent coaches and for the donors in the community who support them,” said Brooks. “We encourage others to partner with Allan Jones and Mark Smith to keep this winning tradition going forever.”