Two stories...

1. From the Tennessee-Chattanooga wrestling website...

Heath Eslinger (pronounced ESS-leen-guhr) was named the 11th head coach of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling program on July 11, 2009. A former Southern Conference Wrestler of the Year and UTC alum, Eslinger brings over seven years of experience in coaching at both the collegiate and high school levels.

Eslinger spent the last three seasons building the Cleveland High School wrestling program in Cleveland, Tenn., into one of the premier programs in the state. The Blue Raiders finished in the top-3 in the state duals and traditional standings in each of the last two seasons. Last year, he had Cleveland ranked as high as No. 9 in the southeast region while guiding a school-record six wrestlers to state placings, including three finalists.

During his time at Cleveland High School, Eslinger was able to successfully raise money for the program. He also helped build a $250,000 weight training facility for the school. He raised the profile of the wrestling program in the community by more than doubling the size of the roster since his arrival. He was also a well-respected physical education teacher at the high school.

Prior to his time at Cleveland High School, Eslinger spent two years as a student pastor at First Baptist Church in Cleveland. His responsibilities dealt with all aspects of a mega-church student ministry. He orchestrated events and camps for over 250 students and organized leaders and curricula for each.

Eslinger gained valuable collegiate coaching experience as an assistant at UTC under Terry Brands from 2002-04. There he learned the ins and outs of recruiting, fundraising, budgets and the overall administration of a collegiate athletic program.

Fresh out of college, Eslinger returned to his high school alma mater, Bradley Central in Cleveland, for his first coaching experience. As an assistant for the Bears, he helped guide Bradley Central to state titles in 2001 and 2002. He also served as an elementary physical education teacher in Bradley County school system.

Eslinger won four letters with the Mocs from 1995-2000. He posted a 120-18 all-time record, winning three Southern Conference titles and qualifying for the NCAA Championships three times. His 120 wins broke the school?s all-time record and is still the second highest win total in UTC history.

Respected by his teammates, Eslinger was tabbed as team captain all four years of his collegiate career. He was the Southern Conference Wrestler of the Year in 2000 and the SoCon Tournament?s Most Outstanding Wrestler that same season. His senior year he climbed as high as No. 6 in the nation.

Eslinger?s prep career was just as impressive and included two state titles at Bradley Central High School. He was captain of the first team to win a state title for the Bears and the 1995 TSSAA Tournament?s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

Eslinger and his wife, Brandi, have three daughters, Brookelyn (4) and twins, Madelyn and Keelyn (2). He is very involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and won the organization?s Jim Slater Leadership Award in 2008. In 2007, he earned the FCA?s Gerry Stephens Influence Award. A noted speaker, Eslinger has also been featured at camps and events all across the southeast for the past five years, including groups of up to 2,000 at a time.

2. and from the Chattanoogan...

Eslinger Named New Mocs Wrestling Coach
by B.B. Branton
posted July 10, 2009

Chattanooga wrestling has its man. Former Southern Conference wrestler-of-the-year Heath Eslinger has been hired as the Mocs 13th head wrestling coach.

The University has called a 2 p.m. press conference Saturday in the hall of fame room at McKenzie Arena on campus to introduce Eslinger as the new coach.

?I am humbled and honored to be the new Chattanooga wrestling coach and this is a great opportunity for myself and my family,'' said Eslinger, who wrestled for the Mocs nearly a decade ago and now replaces Chris Bono as head of the program.

Bono was head coach the past three years with a 39-17 win-loss record and three Southern Conference titles. Bono accepted an assistant coaching position at Iowa State in June.

?I believe that my hiring is a good fit for me and the university,'' stated Eslinger who wrestled for Mocs under Mark Leen (1996-2000) and served as a Moc assistant wrestling coach under former head coach Terry Brands (2003-2004).

Eslinger has been the head coach at Cleveland High School the past three years and led the Blue Raiders to second place finishes at the state duals (2009) and state traditional (2008) tournaments.

''I believe that Heath has the enthusiasm and passion for UTC wrestling and he will have a positive effect on the student-athletes' lives here at Chattanooga,'' said Chattanooga athletics director Rick Hart.

?There were several excellent candidates for the position and I think there were some intangibles that separated Heath from everyone else as we looked at who was the right man for five to 10 years down the road,'' Hart stated. ?I feel this is the right fit for us.''

The Cleveland, Tenn. native brings an solid resume to his new position.

Eslinger is a two-time state high school champion (state tournament Outstanding Wrestler in 1995) at Bradley Central, captain of the school's first state team champion and led the Mocs to three SoCon team titles.

His seven year coaching career shows two years as a Bradley Central assistant (2001-2002; two state traditional titles), two years as a UTC assistant (2003-2004) and the past three years leading Cleveland.

Eslinger starts work on Monday with an overflowing to-do list and, more importantly, the vision and drive to continue the Mocs' winning ways.

In the next two weeks he plans to hire a full-time assistant coach (plus two volunteer coaches), finalize an attractive, competitive 2009-2010 schedule, meet with the current Moc wrestlers, contact the incoming freshmen and do some much needed recruiting for the class of 2010.

?We have lots to do and a short time to do it in,'' Eslinger stated. ?I am here for the long haul so I am ready to roll.

?One of my first meetings will be with the team members and make sure the guys who are in summer school are going to class and making good grades.''

Eslinger is impressed with Hart's vision for the athletes, coaches and teams at Chattanooga.

?I believe that Rick and I are on the same page as we want to instill in the athletes the importance to excel in the classroom and on the mat and be good citizens and excellent ambassadors for the university.''

Former Mocs coach Jim Morgan sees Eslinger as the right choice.

?Heath is a class act and he brings stability to the program,'' said Morgan, who led the Mocs to 203 wins and six SoCon titles in 16 seasons.

?He will really focus on academics and recruiting this region and I assure you that his guys will be ready to wrestle when they walk on that mat.''

Heath Eslinger:

13th head wrestling coach at Chattanooga ? three-time Southern Conference Champion (1998-2000) ... SoCon Wrestler of the Year (2000) ? 2nd in all-time Moc wins (120-18) ? four-time team captain ? three-time team OW ? two-time Midlands tournament place finisher; 3rd in 2003, 5th in 2000 ? two-time state high school champion at Bradley Central ? 1995 state tournament Outstanding Wrestler ? assistant coach at Bradley Central (2001, 2002) ? assistant coach at UTC (2003, 2004) ? founder of Higher Calling Wrestling Club in 2004 ? head coach at Cleveland (Tenn.) High School, 2007-09 ? led Blue Raiders to runner-up in state duals (2009) and state traditional (2008) ? graduate of UTC in 2000 with degree in Exercise Science, Health and Leisure Studies K-12.