CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Mark Wharton announced that Kyle Ruschell has been offered and accepted the position of head wrestling coach for the Mocs. Ruschell replaces Heath Eslinger, who stepped down to pursue other interests on July 19.
“We had an outstanding pool of candidates for this position, which is a testament to the type of program Heath built over the last nine years,” stated Wharton. “This was a very difficult decision, but in the end, Kyle became the clear choice to lead our program.
“I talked to a lot of individuals throughout the wrestling community, both locally and nationally, and it was clear that Kyle is ready for the challenge to lead our program. His credentials as a coach and athlete are outstanding, and he has a clear vision that fits within our athletics department.”
Ruschell joined the Mocs staff in June as assistant coach. He was elevated to interim head coach on July 19, following Eslinger’s resignation. He spent the previous eight seasons as an assistant coach at Wisconsin. A former member of the U.S. National Team (2014-15), he was a two-time All-American for the Badgers (2007-10).
“I am extremely honored to be named the next head coach of UTC wrestling,” stated Ruschell. “The support for this program is amazing, and I am excited for the future.
“I want to thank Mark Wharton for believing in my leadership and vision for this program, and Heath Eslinger for showing me what the Mocs are all about. Chattanooga is a special place and I cannot wait to get to work. Go Mocs!”
As a member of the Wisconsin coaching staff, Ruschell helped five Badgers earn seven All-American honors. Four times in his tenure, Wisconsin finished in the top 20 at the NCAA tournament, including a 13th-place showing in 2013.
Ruschell helped Isaac Jordan win his first Big Ten championship in 2015 and earn four All-American honors. Jordan was the program’s first Big Ten champion since Trevor Brandvold in 2011.
Ruschell also coached Evan Wick to a third-place finish at NCAAs in 2018, along with Ryan Taylor and Connor Medbery to 2015 All-American honors. In 2017, the Badgers sent nine wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, marking the program’s highest number of qualifiers since 2007.
Ruschell has twice competed in the World Team trials in Fargo, North Dakota, most recently in 2018. He made the U.S. National Team in 2014. He placed third in the U.S. Open and third in Phase II of the World Team Trials after beating two-time national champion Kellen Russell from Michigan and national team member Frank Mollinaro, who was a national champion for Penn State.
In the fight to “Save Olympic Wrestling,” Ruschell was asked to be a representative for the sport at the Kentucky state capital as they passed a state bylaw to keep wrestling in the Olympics.
The Crittenden, Kentucky, native was a four-time NCAA championship qualifier for the Badgers, earning All-America honors twice at 149 pounds. The four-year letterwinner served as team captain his junior and senior seasons.
Ruschell is the only two-time All-American from Kentucky and the state’s highest placer in the NCAA Division I championships. At Ryle High School, Ruschell was a two-time state and four-time conference champion. He and his wife, the former Allie Johnson, were married in June 2017.