Christiansburg wrestling set to continue dominance with new coaching staff

Cliff Warden named head wrestling coach, appoints Zach Epperly as assistant

BLACKSBURG, Va. – For more than a decade, Christiansburg wrestling has been the premier program in the state. The Blue Demons have captured 16 straight team state wrestling titles. As they take part in Virginia Tech's Tony Robie's camp, the perennial power doesn't plan on stalling the streak.

"If each individual guy is picking up their weight and aspiring to be more than a state champ but rather make national champions at our club, that will take care of all that," senior wrestler Marshall Keller said.

With the Christiansburg squad looking to stay on track for number 17, they replaced former head coach Sonny Close with Cliff Warden, who created his own wrestling empire during his 10 year stint at his last school.

As head coach of Independence High School in West Virginia, Warden's team won the state title the past four years. He takes over the dynasty of Christiansburg High School that's on a 16 year state win streak.

"It's exciting to come in to something that's won 16 in a row and I think we got to look past, as they say in Hokieland, we need  to raise the bar and I think instead of state level we need to start looking back at national level," Warden said.

To achieve such an undertaking, Warden got former Christiansburg and Virginia Tech standout Zach Epperly on board to join the coaching staff as an assistant.

"I've seen the way he coaches, the way he treats his guys and he's just a great example of a great leader and someone you want to be on a coaching staff with so I'm very excited about it," Epperly said.

"I watched Zach as I was growing up and he was one of my idols when I was coming up and aspiring to be a great wrestler so having him here is real great. He knows what we're trying to do. He knows the type of style of wrestling we are looking for," Keller said.

The leadership may be different, but the team hopes to continue to put the gold in blue and gold.