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Staff file photo / Josh Bosken, who has been involved with the Cleveland High School and Cleveland Middle School wrestling programs in some form since 2007, led the Higher Calling youth club to a 90-0 record this season.

With eight TSSAA wrestling team state championships in the past four seasons — four each in duals and traditional tournament competition — Cleveland High School has won more titles than any Tennessee program in that span.

The Blue Raiders are showing no signs of slowing down either, especially with the help of Josh Bosken in the Cleveland wrestling pipeline.

Bosken, a former Blue Raiders assistant and head coach, was recently named coach of the year for the AAU's Southeastern District. Bosken led Cleveland's Higher Calling youth program — which ranges from kindergarten to eighth grade — to a 90-0 record this past season as it became the first in state history to not lose a single match.

"Honestly, the success of our high school program keeps our kids motivated," Bosken wrote in a message to the Times Free Press. "Every year we try to be better than the year before, which requires our training to be more focused and purposeful. We want to be known as the most dominant athletic program the state has ever seen!"

Bosken won a state title at Science Hill High School and went on to wrestle at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and as a coach he has shown a knack for training champions with 28 TSSAA state champs — including four freshmen — and 95 high school state medalists since 2007 who were under his tutelage. Several of those also received All-America recognition and were national champions.

Noah Horst, a 2020 Baylor graduate who's now wrestling for UTC, is one of two four-time TSSAA state champs trained by Bosken, with Cleveland graduate Chris DeBien the other.

"Bosken is a very good wrestling coach, but an even better mentor," Horst wrote in a text message. "He takes time and puts passion into what he does. He cares about the kids and loves his team. Bosken gets kids to love the sport. He is my foundation of my success along with many others."

Blue Raiders head coach Joey Knox, who succeeded Bosken in 2017, praised Bosken for the work he has done to help the Cleveland become the top Class AAA program in the state. The Blue Raiders set a program record with six individual state champions at the traditional state tournament in February at the Chattanooga Convention Center. They also set a state record by sending nine wrestlers to the state finals.

"Josh Bosken deserves a lot of credit," Knox said. "He has done an amazing job at our club level, and the kids really look up to him. We couldn't do what we are doing without him. These parents know how much we care about their kids, and our goal is to push them to be the best young men and women they can be."

Trae McDaniel had AAU success at a young age under Bosken's guidance, and made a name for himself at a young age training and competing for Bosken on the AAU circuit. After closing a Blue Raiders career in which he had back-to-back undefeated seasons and was a three-time individual state champion, he reflected on Bosken's influence.

"Training with Bosken was great for me and helped me get to where I am today," McDaniel, who will be a freshman wrestler at Army this winter, said at the state tournament in February. "I have been all over the country, and I know for a fact we have some of the best coaches in the country here in Cleveland. What Bosken and Knox are doing for this program is huge."

In a release announcing the coaching honor, which was presented this week during the AAU's annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, executive committee member Dave Bennets noted Bosken's wrestling camps have earned the reputation of being among the best in the country. He also pointed out Bosken's influence on Cleveland wrestlers from the time they first take the mat until they graduate high school.

"Josh has played a crucial role in all three phases of the program — middle school, high school, and Higher Calling. He understands how important each phase is," Bennets said in the release, "and the AAU is thankful for what he means to Higher Calling."

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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