‘Night of Champions’ celebrates state champs

By Ken Leinart

What’s it take to become a champion?

If you know the answer to that question you know how special it is to reach that height in your sport.

Tuesday night Knox County high school champions were honored and recognized at Knoxville Civic Auditorium for their accomplishments as individual champions and as members of championship teams during Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ “Night of Champions.”

Speakers who achieved championship status for their high schools spoke in a forum setting, as did champions from various sports in higher levels of competition.

Before that session began, however, players and coaches of the “by invitation only” event were treated to light refreshments and a party-like atmosphere outside of the venue where cold sodas and music by a DJ made the event feel like party central.

“Considering this is my fourth year and South-Doyle has never won a state championship. I don’t know, I just feel blessed to even play in a state championship … It’s very nice that we have supporters out there,” South-Doyle High School’s Levi Ridge said of Tuesday’s event.

The Cherokees won the AA Tennessee Secondary Athletic Association (TSSAA) AA boy’s soccer championship with a 2-1 win over Greeneville High School.

Laughing he said, “It’s not as fun as winning the championship, but …”

Catholic High School’s Maggie Frana and her teammates are a little more used to events like Tuesday’s.

The Lady Irish won the Div. II AA basketball title, the team’s second consecutive state title but being honored never grows old.

“It’s pretty amazing, especially since it’s our second year of winning state,” Catholic’s Maggie Frana said. “We worked hard and our team is really tight. It’s nice to be appreciated for our hard work.”

Other Knox County State champions include:

– Bearden High School Girls and Boys Soccer

– Christian Academy of Knoxville Boys Cross Country Individual Winner (Joshua Cross) and Track and Field Winners (Boys 4×800 Relay; Joshua Cross, 1600 Meter Race and 3200 Meter Race)

– Farragut High School Boys Baseball, Cross Country, Individual Track and Field Winners (Bryce Thompson, Shot Put; Braden Ebbert, 3200 Meter Race)

– Fulton High School Boys Basketball

– Karns High School Girls Individual Wrestler (Krickett Jones)

– Knoxville Catholic Girls Tennis (Singles Champion Lille Murphy) and Track and Field Winners (Maggie Frana, Discus; Chloe Truss, 100 Meter Dash; Girls 4×200 Meter Relay)

– West High School Football

– Gibbs High School Softball and Track and Field Winners (Boys 4×200 Relay and 4×400 Relay)

– Webb School Girls Cross Country (Abby Faith Cheeseman), Girls Track and Field (Lennox Langham, Long Jump and Triple Jump; 4×800 Meter Relay; Carolina Arehart, 1600 Meter Race and 800 Meter Race; Jazzlyn Garmer, 3200 Meter Run) and Boys Cross Country Individual Winner (Colin Eckerman), Boys Individual Track and Field Winner (Colin Eckerman, 1600 Meter Race and 3200 Meter Race)

– Hardin Valley Academy Individual Girls Wrestler (Ella Murphey) and Individual Girls Track and Field Winner (Gracie Wait, Shot Put and Discus)


Tuesday was the third time Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs hosted the event recognizing state champions from the Knox County high schools.

A panel of four student-athletes representing four of the county’s high schools took to the stage for the question and answer session. Gibbs High softball player Maddie Whaley, South-Doyle soccer player Jonah Mitchell, Hardin Valley Academy girl’s wrestling champion Ella Murphey, and Webb cross country and field and track champion Colin Eckerman talked about the work put in to be a state champion.

Adult athletes talked about their own successes and gave a glimpse at what it would take to carry on a championship mindset after high school. Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, a WWE Hall of Famer; Johnson University softball coach Dayna Carter; University of Tennessee basketball alum Clarence Swearengen; and Knoxville Ice Bears player Bryan Hince all said going from high school to college would require more effort and more work at their respective sports.