Wrestling center gets funding for addition
by Special to the Banner
Mar 17, 2014 | 1540 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TOBY PENDERGRASS, director of the Allan Jones Foundation, left, discusses expansion of the Jones Wrestling Center with Blue Raiders coach Jake Yost. Contributed photo
TOBY PENDERGRASS, director of the Allan Jones Foundation, left, discusses expansion of the Jones Wrestling Center with Blue Raiders coach Jake Yost. Contributed photo

The Jones Wrestling Center at Cleveland High School is already regarded as one of the premiere wrestling facilities in the nation. Now, the center will undergo an addition, thanks to a donation by the Allan Jones Foundation.

Jake Yost, coach of the Blue Raiders wrestling team, recently announced the foundation had contributed funding to add an additional office to the inside of the weight room in the wrestling center.

Yost said the new space will give the coaches an ideal place to meet one-on-one with students for the purpose of mentoring and watching practice videos.

The funding also allows the addition of a bathroom and shower for the coaching staff.

“The Jones Wrestling Center is already one of the best facilities in the United States and this donation by the Allan Jones Foundation takes us to the next level,” Yost said. “We want people to know that we are not content just to have the best wrestling center in America. We want to keep improving and striving to be better.”

The foundation donated more than $1.5 million for the state-of-the-art center starting in 2001 and was the sole funder for the project. The center has digital scoreboards, padded walls, inflatable, overhead heating ducts and flat screen TVs. It is named after the late W.A. Jones, a prominent Cleveland businessman.

The foundation’s history of philanthropy runs deep. In 2006, it donated $50,000 to the city school system to hire the athletic recruiting firm Double Pump International so that a national search for a coaching staff could be hired to replace the retiring Al Miller.

New coaches were found for the high school, middle school and kids club, and the foundation implemented a six-year plan designed to guide the Cleveland wrestlers to a championship.

"In six years, these sixth-graders will be seniors and will have come through the new system installed by coach Heath Eslinger and staff, and will win the state championship,” Allan Jones was quoted as saying in 2006.

Prior to the implementation of the six-year plan, Bradley Central High School had served as a long-respected state powerhouse, and had beaten Cleveland in competition for 19 consecutive years. For the past three years, Cleveland wrestlers have defeated their crosstown rivals.

Jones was quick to point out that BCHS remains a state powerhouse, as is Walker Valley High School. The local philanthropist and CHS alumnus, and former high school wrestler, contributes to all three local programs which he supports financially and as a follower.

“If there is a state championship won in wrestling, we want it to be one of our three schools,” Jones said.

In the 2013 state tourney dual meet championships, Cleveland beat runner-up Wilson Central 78-4, a TSSAA record for the most lopsided margin of victory, most pins and quickest championship.

Since the 2006-07 season, Cleveland has finished as the Tennessee runner-up in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, and won state championships in 2011, 2013 and 2014.