Mike Clayton, a US Naval Academy graduate, former West Point Head Assistant Coach, and current Manager, USA Wrestling’s National Coaches Education Program, helps wrestlers set goals, focus, gain confidence, organize and prioritize their training to help them reach their goals.
Session 6 (the sixth and final session of the NCAA Wrestling Championships) is a feeling like no other: it’s that moment when you’re competing for the championship. That’s really what it’s all about: the thrill of 17,000 fans cheering for you in the stands and millions of people watching you on TV! It’s the excitement of knowing that within a few minutes you could be standing atop the most prestigious award stand of your career.
Born in Brooklyn, Iowa, Mike Clayton started wrestling competitively at an early age, posting his 500th career win by the time he was in 8th grade. Posting a 116-15 high school record at BGM of Brooklyn, he won 79 of his 116 wins by fall (68%), placed 3rd as a senior and won the Iowa Freestyle State Tournament by pinning or tech-falling all 8 opponents.
Clayton moved to Newport , RI in 1990 for a year at the Naval Academy Prep School. He served as team captain before entering Annapolis in 1991. He earned four varsity letters, was a three-time EIWA place-winner, and qualified for the 1995 NCAA Championships at 126 lbs.
Graduating Annapolis in ’95, Clayton coached at Navy for six months before training for the 1996 Olympic Trials with the All-Navy team in Pensacola, FL. While there, he earned a silver medal at the Armed Forces Freestyle Championships, placed at the Chattanooga Olympic Regional at 136.5 lbs., and finished in the top 16 at the US Open.
Mike finished the Navy’s business school in 1997 and served in the Navy as a Supply Corps Officer until 2001.
While still in the Navy, he started coaching freestyle with the Peninsula Wrestling Association (Virginia Duals Wrestling Club) in Poquoson, VA and worked closely with PWA through 2004. He spent one year in 1998 as an assistant coach at The Apprentice School trade college in Newport News, VA, then took over as head coach from 1999-2004, coaching 30 All-Americans, including 8 national champions.
Clayton served as the Head Assistant at Division I West Point in NY, where he helped the team earn top 25 NCAA team rankings in 2004-05 and 2005-06. Their 2006 recruiting class was ranked 22nd in the nation by Wrestling USA Magazine which served as the school’s first nationally ranked class in history.
Clayton helped train 3X All-American and NCAA Finalist Phillip Simpson and a total of 8 NCAA Division I National Qualifiers while at Army.
In 2007, Mike took the reigns as the Head Coach at Stevens Institute of Technology (NCAA Div III) in Hoboken, NJ. He turned a dormant program into a national power. His teams finished or held rankings in the NCAA’s top 30 poll in all seven years with the program. The roster increase from 13 athletes to over 40 creating a respected program on campus and around the nation. He consistently produced NCAA Qualifiers, All-Americans, Academic All-Americans as well as team top ten academic rankings.
Coach Clayton co-head coached the Team USA Cadet Pan-Am team to double golds in FS and GR in Campeche, Mexico in ’11.
In 2014, Clayton took on the role as the Manager of USA Wrestling’s National Coaches Education Program in Colorado Springs, CO. He created the new USA Wrestling bronze course and has travelled the World sharing and learning in this new and exciting role. He directs USA Wrestling camps for Cadet and Junior age groups. Clayton does camps, clinics, and public speaking both for USA Wrestling and for his company, Session 6.
30 National Collegiate Wrestling Association All-Americans including 8 individual National Champions: