Cleveland Sees Six Champions In March To AA State Wrestling Title

Piper Fowler Leads Lady Raiders To Second State Crown

  • Sunday, February 25, 2024
  • Richard Roberts
The Cleveland Blue Raiders won the Class AA state wrestlng championship Saturday night at The Williamson Co. Ag Expo in Franklin, Tenn.
The Cleveland Blue Raiders won the Class AA state wrestlng championship Saturday night at The Williamson Co. Ag Expo in Franklin, Tenn.
photo by Richard Roberts

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — The Cleveland Blue Raiders earned their seventh straight state traditionalsl wrestling championship Saturday night, but the victory inside the Williamson County Ag Expo turned into a bittersweet moment that wrestlers, coaches and fans shaking their heads in disbelief.

The Raiders sent seven wrestlers to the finals and saw six walked away with championship medals. But, the night's finale suddenly went south keeping Cleveland from sweeping all seven matches when a very controversial violation called by the official overseeing the bout resulted in a disqualification for the Raiders at 126 pounds. 

A visibly emotional and understandably upset Cleveland head coach, Joey Knox, respectfully declined comment after the tournament.

Although the unfortunate ending to the Blue Raiders' night put a bit of a damper on the celebration, Cleveland fans had plenty to cheer about as the Lady Raiders wrestled to their second straight state title in only three years of girls wrestling at Cleveland.

Two of the Blue Raiders' wins came through former Blue Raiders wrestler Pete Miller who leads the Summit wrestling team. Cleveland's 157-pound wrestler Cy Fowler and 285 pounder Tyson Russel bested Miller's Spartans for the title. Miller, part of Cleveland's extended wrestling family had five Spartans battling for championships.

The state title is Fowler's first after medaling in 2022 and 2023. The gold medal is also the first for Russel, who also medaled in 2023.

Fowler's brother, Cy Fowler, won the second state title of the night for the Raiders with his victory at 165. Fowler, a senior at Cleveland, had medaled all four years as a Blue Raider.

The Fowler family had even more to celebrate as sister Piper Fowler won her third straight state title with a victory at 165. Fowler also medaled in 2022 and 2023 at 152 and 165 pounds.

Along with the success of the Fowler brothers, four other Cleveland wrestlers returned home with gold medal success. Jose Cordero won his second straight title finishing first at 106 pounds while two-time medalist Chase Walker followed with a championship at 113. 

Lucas Szymborski earned his third consecutive medal with a top of the podium victory at 190. Szymborski was also state champion at 170 in 2023 and finished third at 160 in 2022. Heavyweight wrestler Tyson Russel, after earning second place at 195 in 2023, stepped up to win the 2024 championship at 285.

Cleveland boasted four more medalists with Zac Bosken second at 126, Gabe More third at 215 and Colt Maughon and Dylan Harrold wrestling to fifth place at 120 and 175.

Rebuilding Bradley Central had only a single Bear place in the final results as Kyle Hogg finished fourth at 150 pounds. 

Overall, we had a pretty good weekend. We had some guys and girls who stepped up and wrestled well even though they may not have placed. Landon Goins and Brandon Harris both had some good moment during the tournament that showed a lot of growth from where we started and how they finished. Kyle Hogg really stepped up and has really been a leader for the team. He beat a returning state medalist in the blood round to seal his state medal. Super proud of his effort,” said Bears head coach Bryant Blackmon. 

“Gaby Bennett had a good weekend as well. She showed some perseverance and battled through some adversity and injuries to secure her fourth state medal,” Blackmon continued. “She has done a great job of paving the way for the girls program. Nataleigh Shane wrestled outstanding all weekend! State champion as a sophomore (state runner up as a freshman). She is on her way to really putting a stamp on her name and legacy for the girls program. 

“I’m excited about where the program is headed and the things I saw from the weekend.”

The Lady Raiders, after only three years in business, continued to make their mark in high school wrestling with a convincing first-place finish racking up 178 points easily besting second place West Creek (113) and third place Clarksville (100).

Along with Fowler's gold, Cleveland picked up another first-place winner at 235 with a win by Madelin Zunun, who finished second in 2023 at 185. The silver medal went to Senna Grassman at 114 pounds and Makya Parker (107) and Diamond Young (185) wrestled to third place finishes. Adelyn Vanoy (145) and Bella Harris (152) took fourth while Kimora Turner reached the podium with a fifth-place finish at 138.

“The ones we lost still hurt really, really bad,” said an emotional Lady Raiders head coach Josh Bosken. “Senna losing got me in a bad spot, but then Madelyn goes out there, she lost her mother about two months ago, and she just really needed that win. I'm so happy for her.

“We had four seniors who all came into the tournament thinking they were going to be state champions and on day one they all lost. They could have taken the easy way out and either not make weight or find a way to lose, but they made a commitment to each other and a commitment to the team. They got their weights down and fought their butts off for the team and put us in a good spot.”

The Walker Valley Mustangs brought four Mustangs and one Lady Mustang to Franklin and brought back medals from Jeremiah Townsend, who finished fourth at 285 and Christian Wilson, who took fifth at 138. The Mustangs' Troy Dyszkiewicz ended his tournament run with a sixth place at 215.

Lady Mustangs wrestler Jennell Phares made Walker Valley history as the first female wrestler to win a match at the state tournament

“We brought four Mustangs here and we had three medal. We had a fourth wrestler come very close to medaling,” said Walker Valley head coach Al Morris. “Three of the four are returning next year, so it's not bad. We also had one girl who won a match here at the state for the first time school history. That is another positive.

“We only have one senior here, the only senior on our team. We've got a whole room full of guys returning. I'm pleased with what I saw here, but I also can say we missed a few opportunities where we could have done a little better. But, we'll work on that stuff in the offseason.”
The Cleveland Lady Blue Raiders earned their second state championship in three years Saturday night in Franklin, Tenn.
The Cleveland Lady Blue Raiders earned their second state championship in three years Saturday night in Franklin, Tenn.
photo by Richard Roberts
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