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Cliff Thompson, a high school and college star, has been hired as the new wrestling coach at Asheboro High. 

Familiar name taking over AHS wrestling

ASHEBORO — When searching for a new varsity wrestling coach, Asheboro High School turned back the clock and hired one of the top individual wrestlers to ever come out of Randolph County.


Cliff Thompson, a high-achieving student-athlete at Randleman High School and then Upper Iowa University, has been named the Blue Comets’ coach.


A three-time placer at the NCHSAA State Wrestling meet while at RHS, he completed an undefeated 34-0 state championship campaign as a junior, placed second as a senior and third as a sophomore.


Thompson then went on to become a three-time NCAA Division III All-American at 197 pounds at UI. He was the national runner-up in 2002 following a fourth place finish in 2001 and a sixth place finish in 2000. Thompson ended his Peacock wrestling career with a record of 136-37, which marks the record for wins in a career at Upper Iowa, earning him the prestigious honor of becoming a member of the Upper Iowa Hall of Fame in 2012.


Since, he has coached at a number of different area high schools and sees AHS as a great place to coach.


“I think it's an amazing place to build a program,” said Thompson, who has coached 15 years at Randleman, Northeast Guilford, Page and most recently at Thomasville high schools. “It’s a great wrestling community and I’m really excited.”


Thompson also owns and operates the wrestling club Eyes on The Prize, which is now located in Randleman, but is transitioning to Asheboro.


After graduating from Upper Iowa, Thompson said he wanted to remain competitive and after a stint with a Rugby League, he began a career in MMA. He spent five years in MMA, putting together a 15-3 record as an amateur and a 3-3 record as a professional.


“I won my first three, but it’s a young man’s game,” Thompson said. “I was teaching, coaching, wrestling and fighting.”


Thompson hopes to bring to AHS the philosophy behind his club mission statement, which promotes the importance of academics, accountability, hard work, personal health, sportsmanship and goal setting.


“It’s all about getting the kids to buy in,” Thompson said. “It’s all about building champions on and off the mat. We want to be very successful in the sport, but we also want to be a better man and be a success to our community.”