New wrestling coach brings winning way to CHS


Cliff Warden

Cliff Warden has won four state championships at Independence High School in Coal City, West Virginia, and now he will bring his winning ways to a Christiansburg program that is also used to winning.

The Blue Demons have won 16 straight 3A wrestling titles, and Warden will become the school’s fourth coach in the past 17 years.

Seven Independence wrestlers were in the championship round last season including Warden’s son, Nate at 160 pounds. He will be a sophomore this season and is expected to join his father in Christiansburg.

Independence boasted the top three wrestlers in three West Virginia AA/A weight classes last year and locked up the championship before most of the team took to the mat in the semi-finals.

The scenario has been similar with Christiansburg dominating the mats on this side of the border for a long time.

Warden replaces Sonny Close, who stepped down after two seasons at the helm of the defending state champion Blue Demons.

Warden led the Patriots to four consecutive AA/A state team titles while twice earning WVSSAC coach of the year honors and the 2015 NFHS Mideast section coach of the year award. Warden wrestled for Edinboro University with current Virginia Tech wrestling Coach Tony Robie.

In another move former Virginia Tech and CHS grappler, Zach Epperly will also join the program as an assistant coach. Early reports from the Demon Wrestling Club has Epperly assisting with the Elite Youth Wrestling Program.

Epperly graduated in May with one year of eligibility remaining, but informed Virginia Tech he was looking forward to starting his career as a realtor and in coaching.

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