Former NCAA champion and Janesville, Iowa, native Tolly Thompson returns to the Panther staff for the first time since 2008.

?I?m very happy to be back at UNI and be a part of this team again,? Thompson said. ?I am very excited for this opportunity and ready to help young men accomplish their goals.?

Thompson first joined the Panther staff as the team's Conditioning Specialist during the 2002-03 season. He returned to UNI after two years as the strength and conditioning coach at Nebraska. He was a member of the Panthers' coaching staff during the 1999-2000 seasons as a volunteer assistant.

?The big thing Tolly brings with him is a winning mentality,? UNI head coach Doug Schwab said. ?He wants to get the most out of our wrestlers and sets a very high standard, which fits in very well with the mentality of our staff. He is a very demanding coach, but deeply cares about each wrestler and already has strong relationships with a number of the wrestlers on this team. In addition, Tolly was a very successful competitor and has deep roots in this area. He lives here, knows a number of people here and is very well respected in the community. I?m very excited for him to be a part of the building process we?ve started here at UNI.?

Thompson brings a wealth of international experience to the Panther wrestling room, after being named the winner of the 2005 John Smith Award as the Freestyle Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling. Thompson represented the United States for the second straight season at the World Championships after taking first-place honors at the 2006 U.S. World Team Trials in Sioux City, Iowa.

"There is nothing better than winning," Thompson said. "The bottom line is competition and winning. My job is to win a world title and develop the young guys around the (UNI wrestling) room."

Thompson placed third at the 2005 World Championships (120/264.5 lbs.) in Budapest, Hungary, September 28, 2005. He is an active member of the USA wrestling Freestyle National Team. After waiting nearly six hours after his first-round loss, Thompson won three straight matches in his first trip to the World Championships to claim his first World medal. He capped his medal-winning performance with a 1-0, 1-0 win over past 1997 World champion Kuramagomed Kuramagomedov of Russia. Thompson's rally to the bronze propelled the Americans to an 8th-place finish in the freestyle competition. Overall, the U.S. team ended the competition with two bronze medals.

Along with taking a bronze at the 2005 World Cup, Thompson placed second at the Cerro Pelado International and was the 2005 Dave Schultz Memorial International Champion. In U.S. competition, he was the 2005 Nationals champion and the U.S. World Team Trials Champion. In March 2004, Thompson placed fourth at the Acropolis Tournament in Athens, Greece in the 120kd/264.5 pound weight. That April, Thompson continued his run for an Olympic bid at the U.S. National Championships in Las Vegas. He was able to put together a top finish to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. At the trials, Thompson rolled through competition to win the mini-tournament which placed him in the title bout for an automatic Olympic bid. In a best of three series, Thompson was defeated by Kerry McCoy 5-3 and 8-0, finishing his 2004 Olympic run with a second place finish. In 2003, he placed second at the U.S. Open and World Team Trials. Thompson also was the 2002 Sunkist International Open champion as well as the New York Athletic Club champion. His hope of qualifying for the 2000 Summer Olympics ended at the team trials in Dallas, where he was defeated in the semifinal round by world and national champion Stephen Neal of Bakersfield, Calif.

During his collegiate tenure, he compiled a career record of 157-21 from 1993 to 1997 as a Husker. His 157 wins once placed him on the NCAA's all-time wins list. As a Husker, he became Nebraska's sixth national champion as a sophomore in 1995 by defeating UNI's Justin Greenlee. He finished third at the 1996 and 1997 championships while also winning the Gorrarian Award for the most falls in the least time at the 1997 championships. A three-time Big Eight/Big 12 champion, Thompson was also a three-time NWCA All-Star.

A graduate of the University of Nebraska, he and his wife, Tracy, have three daughters, Payton, Bree, and Kendall.