The Main Mat Moc makes a long awaited appearance, big & little guys rewriting ranking scripts, the wonderful WVU-Tim Flynn marriage, & announcements of all sizes.
10 Questions for Kyle Ruschell & UTC
•1. What makes you smile the most about UTC, and why?
•”The people! Our athletes are great people that work hard. The alumni are very involved and love their Chattanooga wrestling, and our administration helps us any way they can to win championships.”
•2. In the past four years you’ve gotten married, changed jobs, changed positions, reconfigured your staff multiple times and have earned great success and suffered great loss. Is there a calm finally coming to your Mocs experience?
•”When you write it out like that, (yes) a lot has happened! I forget that sometimes. I don’t know. I realize that in coaching anything can happen and you must be ready for it. Something at any moment can punch you right in the stomach and put you right to your knees, but wrestling teaches us to keep moving forward and fight. I want excitement to be on its way for Mocs wrestling. As for calm, I know it isn’t happening anytime soon. My wife and I have a baby on the way so the excitement is just getting started!”
•3. Is coaching with your brother what you expected and does it make you better mentally and strategically the way wrestling each other made you better?
•”As with any hire there have been moments when we don’t agree on things but we both have the best interest of the guys in mind. He has a different mindset than me when it comes to the mental side of things. He thinks about everything and I can just go. I think the best athletes can deal with both.”
•4. The RTC South (1) has had multiple personnel changes also. What’s the next step on its success ladder?
•”Eventually we would like to keep athletes around and have them train and compete at the Senior level. We are very lucky to have Sean Russell here. He cares about the local area and knows what it takes to compete at all levels.”
•5. Tell us why your best wrestler(s) is/are just that, someone who will suprise us, and one secret that makes UTC special.
•”Our best guys love the sport and competition. It isn’t a secret sauce or anything like that. The guys that spend the most time thinking and preparing to be great find the most success. You need to spend time on the mat.”
•6. Besides more wins, more tournament placings and more NCAA qualifiers, what are the metrics that will define success for UTC this season?
•”Effort and fight. I never get mad at our guys if they are wrestling hard and staying in the fight. If they turn down and accept defeat, that is when we are upset. If there is time on the clock anything can happen. We saw that this Summer with Gable Steveson. (2) If our guys never give up I am a happy Coach.
•7. How does the energy of Chattanooga, a city that completely reinvented itself in the last quarter century, affect the student experience at UTC?
•”It is an amazing place to live! You can do anything here. It is a good-sized city that brings in great artists but in 15 minutes you can travel up the road and be on a mountain hiking and listening to nature. The cities growth has been incredible. This is very important for our guys after their college career as it helps them find jobs. Now, although it has grown a lot, Chattanooga still has that small town feel that everyone knows each other and everyone knows the wrestlers.”
•8. Your team and city host one of the premier events in wrestling, the Southern Scuffle, every year. What is its impact?
•”We bring the best teams in the country to our backyard. It helps the local businesses and lets our fans and alumni watch our guys compete against the best. Our guys get to sleep in their own beds. It is the best run tournament outside of the NCAAs every year.”
•9. Where do you send your visitors for good food?
“Oh man. Chattanoogas food scene is great! For coffee, Milk n Honey, the Frothy Monkey, and the Mean Mug. For breakfast, Maple Street Biscuit Co. for chicken and a biscuit, Bluegrass Grill for classic breakfast food, Kennys, & Niedlovs Bakery & Cafe. For lunch, River Street Deli for sandwiches, Universal Joint for bar food, Tremont Tavern for burgers, and HiFi Clyde’s. For dinner, Stir, State of Confusion, Old Gilman Grille and EL PRIMO. For the best view downtown, Whiskey Thief.”
•10. Last word, your words..why UTC?
•”It is all about the people. Places do not win championships, people do. The people that surround our guys on a daily basis are the best. They truly care about them as athletes and people. They help set them up for the future while helping them reach their goals now.”
THANK YOU, Coach Ruschell, and for more good UTC stuff, see this season’s Summer edition and columns 6, 10, 13, 17, and 19.
Overlooked & Underrated, 174lbs: Thomas Flitz, Appalachian State
He will be aiming for his third SoCon final and third trip to the NCAAs. He has a 30 win campaign to his credit and has hit double digit w’s in every one. If not for last years shortened season he’d have a 100 plus victory career. He has a big-time conference foe to aim at, one who reached the Bloodround last year. At the Southern Scuffle, the field will include 11 of the 174lbers ranked ahead of him. He has multiple wins over All Americans and the stinging 2 point and 1 point, overtime, season ending losses to grind about. Thomas Flitz is excited, folks. About one last year to improve with uber-tough App St. alum Randall Diabe and three time All American Ian Miller coaching him up. For the opportunity for he and 165lb blaster Will Formato to cement the link between App States five SoCon lightweight champs and their fast improving upperweights. For the chance to take back what the Mountaineers had seized ownership of when he first arrived. For four straight years the regular season or the Conference Tournament title, or both, had run through Boone. The little Carolina mountain town has a big wrestling rep and the Dean of SoCon coaches, BHHHC John Mark Bentley, has held steady there over a decade plus of success. What they haven’t held of late is conference bragging rights. What had to be the most bitter recent result was last years tournament. App State hosted the SoCon, put six in the finals and won five titles. And finished second. Only our man Flitz (3) had a faltering finish. You THINK he’s motivated for this go-round? From here it looks like multiple high placings at multiple early tournaments, a potentially huge breakthrough at the Scuffle, and very likely a two times in three weeks showdown with a conference arch-rival. About the NCAAs? Thomas, barring the dreaded I.I.M.S. (4) Triple Boojee, will be in like Flitz. (3)
Overlooked and Underrated, 141LBS: Kizhan Clarke, North Carolina
The first second timer on this list, Clarke landed with laser focus academically and athletically in Chapel Hill this Summer. A one time, all time FL. HS state champ and record holder from Riverview HS, Clarke first enrolled at American University. His superb success there was highlighted in the 3rd Season, Column 14, 12/2/2019 edition of this publication. To summarize, Kizhan kicked kabooties at multiple weight classes. Then what started in 2019 continued to happen in 2020, A-U chose to have no season and to no longer have fine Coach Teague Moore. (5) The University also lost a potential dual Academic/Athletic All American as well in Clarke. Kizhan slotted right into the UNC School of Law and a Murderers Row in the Carolina lineup. With Clarke now down at 141 followed by All American Zach Sherman at 149, then National Champ Austin O’Connor up at 157, well, just don’t fiddle with that UNC middle. Gonna get sticky for anybody who steps foot in there.
-Getting so much better all the Time-
West Virginia 2021-2022
•11/7 @ Clarion Open •11/13 Oklahoma •11/19 @ Davidson •11/21 @ NC State •12/5 @ Ohio •12/10 Glenville St. College*** •***(WVU with a scheduling coup here as the Pioneers of GSC are coached by Dylan Cottrell,WVUs 1st Big 12 Champ.) •12/12 @ VMI •12/20 Cleveland State/UTC •1/1-2/2022 @ Southern Scuffle •1/9 @ VT/ + Binghamton •1/16 Oklahoma St + Columbia •1/28 @ South Dakota State •1/29 @ North Dakota State. •2/4 @ Iowa State •2/5 @ Northern Iowa •2/12 Utah Valley •2/18 Wyoming
Year four of the The Tim Flynn experience has arrived and Mountaineers fans (the Morgantown brand) are excited. Freely admitted bias here for the state and its people but an honest and open set of peepers see a challenging season for the Big 12s Eastern outpost school. After a tough two campaigns with just four wins each Flynn’s team turned a big and a BIG 12 corner in 2021s shrunken season, going 7-3. The Mountaineers won all their swing matches and earned a winning Big 12 record. This year WVU will be improved across the board. Just don’t expect anything numerically similar to last years won-loss record. Three reasons: a full 17 dual meet schedule almost fully composed of Top 25 teams including three in the Top 10. Almost half their “swing” matches being contested on the road. Only three of the seven Big 12 powers on the docket will come to Morgantown. Triple ouch. Now, can WVU equal the two w’s they earned against Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State the past six seasons in this one year? Sure. Will they be underdogs to do so? Sure. From here it’s looking like a team with plus .500 potential but probably not double digit wins that will be a hell of a lot tougher the next few years. Looking at the team you are probably first going to notice All American 125lb Killian Cardinale and not notice All American 197lb Noah Adams. Adams graduated, leaving a great legacy. Also not rostered, 133lb Ryan Sullivan, 1-2 at the NCAAs last year after transferring from Pitt. Cardinale is easily the big returning name. He’s prepping to be the first two-time All American for the Mountaineers since Zeke Moisey and the first in back to back seasons since Brandon Raders two year run in 2007 & 2008. For this year, other than Cardinale, keep your eyes peeled for 165lb Peyton Hall. He entered the National rankings his first year, first month at WVU this past January and will probably leave the rankings the last month of his last year as a Mountaineer. Whenever that is and hopefully no time soon. He has three All Americans in his conference weight class, a challenge the four time West Virginia, two time National high school champ surely relishes. You’ll find a sneaky good heavyweight on this team, too, in sophomore Michael Wolfgram, and freshman Jordan Titus may just be able to fill that open 133lb slot. There’s no question a youth movement has taken serious root. Of the seven seniors or fifth years (including new Lehigh transfer 149lb Luke Karam) exactly one starts. The cohesiveness of Flynns crew is well highlighted by this fact: 3 starters with multiple years of experience were upended from starting spots last season. And stayed. Not just in school but ON THE TEAM. Telling you, folks, theres a strong belief brewing in that Mountaineers wrestling room. Coming to podiums near and far from you, soon and often. (6)
Coast to Coast Catch-ups
The pride of Green River, Wyoming, former Cowboys 125lb star Cole Verner takes over as director of the Wyoming Regional Training Center. After injuries derailed a hot starting career Verner finished his BA this past Spring and now will help keep the training doors open for all aspiring wrestlers within a 250 mile radius of Laradise, er, Laramie. It IS a special place.
Massive move by #MGoBlue as Michigan welcomes back a long ago state hero. Kevin Jackson, 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2 time World Champ, and multi decade uber-mentor of every age group of wrestler comes to Anne Arbor as the Wolverines Assistant Coach. Jackson grew up in Michigan, was a 3 time All American for LSU and a National finalist for Iowa State on their 1987 NCAA Championship winning squad. Those accolades literally pale in comparison to Jacksons decades long devotion to college programs and to USA Wrestling after his own amazing career closed. Now he brings near unparalleled coaching experience to a team with two Olympians and six returning All Americans on its roster. The National Championships are in Detroit this year. This year is the 100th season of Michigan wrestling. Just sayin.
Colorado in late Fall is about as good as you can get so get to Greeley the weekend of November 20th. You’ll have a Rocky Mountain High old time as you celebrate and support The Northern Colorado Wrestling Club that Saturday at the Millenium Events Center. There’s both a live and a silent auction, a cocktail hour, a Harley-Davidson Raffle, and that awesome Centennial State ambiance. Reach out to Northern ColoradoWrestlingClub@gmail.com for info with the event scheduled to start at 5:30 pm, Mountain Time. Which, really, is about the best and sweetest time.
It’s a tight turn-around when you read this but Sunday October 17th in St. Charles the Missouri Border Brawl takes place. The showdown between some of the Show Me States finest young Male and Female wrestlers versus high level talent from Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas is a once a year benefit for both physically and mentally wounded American veterans. At need youth wrestlers are a big part of the events outreach as well, so come if you can. Get the rest of the info at the Missouri Border Brawl Facebook page.
Last weeks featured SoCon Coach, Daniel Elliott of Gardner-Webb, is back in the highlights again. The 9 year head coach of the Runnin Bulldogs will enter the schools Hall of Fame Friday, October 22st at the Tucker Events center in a semi-formal setting that begins at 6:30 p.m. 35 dollars gets you in to a reception, dinner, silent auction and the ceremony for 11 Gardner-Webb greats. Tell you what, they are hoppin on Fridays up in Boiling Springs. If not for the gracious Ms. Alison queries about the event might have gone unanswered. You’re good to go now, so go!
See you sometime soon!
(1) The Regional Training Center South has, like all RTCs around the country, open doors for athletes in a 250 mile radius to come in to train and improve. Russell, the former Edinboro All American and Minnesota standout who helps coordinate its operations, is a Georgia native.
(2) At the Tokyo Olympics Steveson, America’s 125kg Freestyle wrestler, trailed the three time World Champion by 4 points. Steveson earned Olympic Gold with a takedown in the last half-second. A Golden Gopher in multiple ways, Steveson will balance WWE, MMA, and acting responsibilities while fulfilling his promise to return for his senior season at Minnesota.
(3) “Our Man Flint” & “In like Flint” were part of a series of spy pix parodies starring the late, great James Coburn as Derek Flint. An Americanized James Bond, Flint was all in, all the time, in everything. The OG of this phrase goes WAY back to Errol Flynn. Not really suitable for explanation in this column.
(4) Illness/Injury/Meteorite Strike. Can happen. Forget that new Coke commercial. Space stones don’t come with parachutes.
(5) Catch Coach Moores expertise at firstname.lastname@example.org. 202-500-0819. You’re welcome, sir. Least we could do. R.I.P., Jude. 🌈🐾#FaithFamilyFinanceFitness
(6) Said it once, saying it again…way past time for the “Morgantown Takedown” Podcast with Kyle Bratke, the WVU wrestling staff, and a suprise guest or two now and then.