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UTC wrestling coach Kyle Ruschell

A whirlwind couple of months for Kyle Ruschell finally came to an ending, and it was a happy one.

Ruschell was named wrestling coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Friday. He replaces Heath Eslinger, who resigned on July 19 after nine seasons leading the program.

Ruschell was hired as an assistant to Eslinger on June 20 after eight years as an assistant at Wisconsin, his alma mater. During his time competing for the Badgers, Ruschell was a captain, a four-time NCAA tournament qualifier and a two-time All-American (2007-08, 2009-10).

Ruschell was named the Mocs' interim head coach after Eslinger resigned to work for Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

"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," UTC vice chancellor and athletic director Mark Wharton said in a news release.

"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."

During his time at Wisconsin, Ruschell helped five Badgers earn All-America honors. The program finished in the top 20 in the NCAA tournament four times during his tenure and sent nine wrestlers to the 2017 event.

The only two-time All-American from the state of Kentucky — he is a native of Crittenden, near the Ohio border and Cincinnati — Ruschell competed for the U.S. national team in 2014-15.

"I am extremely honored to be named the next head coach of UTC wrestling," Ruschell said in the release. "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!"

In Ruschell's first season, the Mocs will have to replace five starters lost to graduation, including NCAA qualifiers Scottie Boykin (197 pounds) and Bryce Carr (184). In addition, Justin Lampe (174), Michael Pongracz (141) and Chad Pyke (165) graduated after the Mocs finished 8-7 and were Southern Conference tournament runners-up in Eslinger's final season.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

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