Jeff Lester

1984 Lebanon High graduate Jeff Lester

1984 LHS State Champion -- 

A novice grappler as a Lebanon High sophomore, Jeff Lester went on to earn the 1984 state championship at 98 pounds for the Blue Devils, the first of a many notable achievements in his long career in wrestling.

Lester's dedication to the sport will be recognized Saturday, Aug. 24 when he is inducted into the Tennessee Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in the Lifetime Service category.

The banquet will be held at Murfreesboro's Stones River Country Club.

For ticket information, visit

Lester, who competed under three different head coaches (Larry Grissim, Kenneth Gann and Ed Sheley) in three years of varsity wrestling at Lebanon, went 78-14-1 over that time with 13 individual tournament titles under his belt. He finished 34-1-1 as a senior in 1984 to win the state title.

Lester was among 13 others inducted into the inaugural class of the Lebanon High Sports Hall of Fame back in 2007.

He started his coaching career in 1992 when he took over the head coaching position at Lebanon and stayed for four years before moving to Tullahoma, where he’s been for the last 23 years.

Lester has been the head coach several times but never needed the spotlight.

He voluntarily stepped aside when the opportunity came along to attract top coaching talent because helping his team and his wrestlers gain a title was always more important than his individual coaching honors. He hasn’t changed much since he started all those years ago.

He still can be seen wrestling each match from the corner coaching position or team bench. And he still can’t sit still in the coaching corner…or even in the chair itself. He has reached an understanding with the referees in the area.

It is technically against the rules not to be seated on the corner chair and one day Jeff told a referee that he’d just have to throw him out because Jeff was unable to stay seated.

The referees respect Jeff’s talent and passion as a coach…just as they did when he was tearing through his competition on the mat.

Jeff has coached six state champions at Tullahoma and had many regional championship teams.

He and his wife Jennifer are the parents of three children. He's the son of Lebanon's Benny and Betty Lester.

Recommended for you