Antonio Thomas has a dream come true thanks to being named head wrestling coach at Auburndale after spending last season as an assistant to Matt Jones.
After graduating from Auburndale in 2013, Thomas played college football at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. He also coached wrestling at Bartow in 2017 for one season and teaches ninth-grade reading.
Auburndale athletic director Pam Lancaster said when the position opened up and he expressed interest, they thought that he did a great job and he is a former Bloodhounds wrestler. He is on campus and just brings a lot of energy and passion to their program.
Lancaster added that they liked the continuity that he brings and they are trying to build their program back up. He knows that Thomas is going to get a lot of kids out to wrestle, and they are excited for the program.
Thomas, 26, was a multi-sport standout for the Bloodhounds. He has won varsity letters in wrestling, weightlifting, football, and track and field, where he threw the shot-put and discus. He was also a Ledger All-County first team selection as a heavyweight wrestler and offensive lineman.
Thomas said that he wanted to get back to his roots and get a chance to come back to Auburndale and give back. Being an Auburndale coach has always been like his dream and he has planned on being here for a long time.
Finishing the FHSAA state finals at the Lakeland Center as the Class 2A 285-pound third-place state medalist, Thomas had a huge senior year at Auburndale on the wrestling mats. He finished with a 51-3 record that season and also started the season with 35 consecutive wins.
Thomas also said the biggest challenge right now for him may be to recruit with the coronavirus pandemic going on right now since a lot of kids may not want to come out and wrestle due to the virus.