first_imgTo win a Big Ten championship in wrestling is no easy feat.Just to make it to the championship match is no cup of tea. And to do it as aNo. 5 seed and a red-shirt freshman, as Kyle Ruschell did last year, is simplyunheard of.At last year?s conference championships, Ruschell, wrestlingat 141 pounds, defeated No. 4 seed Cassio Pero of Illinois 6-5 in thequarterfinals. He then went on to upset top-seeded Manual Rivera of Minnesotain the semifinals 7-4 before losing in the title match to Northwestern?s RyanLang 5-1.?I had nothing to lose,? Ruschell said of his performancelast season. ?I didn?t really have too high of expectations because I had towrestle two guys I had lost to (in the regular season). So I went out there, Iwanted to win ? not just not to lose.?Heading into this year?s championships this weekend inMinneapolis, Ruschell has garnered the No. 2 pre-seed, right behind Michigan?sKellen Russell. Ruschell is taking somewhat of the same attitude as lastseason, but with a bit of a twist.?I want to be on the top of the stand,? Ruschell said. ?I?mgoing in with the same game plan ? to get to the title match. But this time winand not be so nervous in the finals, or be so tight, and just happy to bethere.?Ruschell?s performance last season, as well as his workethic both on and off the wrestling mat, led the coaching staff to nameRuschell one of this year?s tri-captains. Head coach Barry Davis knows Ruschellis the type of guy he wants his team to look up to.?He takes time to think of the sport out of the room,? Davissaid. ?And in order to be a captain, you have to take the time outside of theroom, you have to take wrestling with you and think about things. All thosethings come together.?One of only a handful of Division I wrestlers who callKentucky ?home,? Ruschell knew early on that he had to make a name of himselfat a national tournament, rather than his state tournament, to get to where heis now.?In high school, I was a little guy,? Ruschell said. ?I wasa [103]-pounder up through junior year and then senior year I wrestled 119 inKentucky. But out of state at senior nationals I wrestled 112. I did that tohelp get coaches look at me because they usually don?t come to our state tournament.?Davis, along with assistant coach Barry Chelesvig,approached Ruschell at the senior national tournament in March of 2005 andoffered him a chance to be a Badger. It was a move that pleased Ruschell?sparents.?My parents just fell in love with Barry,? Ruschell said.?They felt that he cared about us, that it wasn?t just about us coming here butto help me grow as a person and make me a better person. It?s not just forBarry ? it?s for the university and for me.?Family and friends in Kentucky were all smiles, but therewere some in Madison who didn?t know what to think of the news.?I know the coaches kind of got a little heckling becausethey got a kid from Kentucky,? junior Dallas Herbst said. ?Not a lot of guysknew him or knew what he could do.?Ruschell arrived on campus not quite sure what to expect,but soon learned his place the first day of practice.?I was pretty raw my freshman year,? Ruschell said. ?Iremember my first practice. I was wrestling (Zach) Tanelli. He got my leg andjust lifted it up and smacked me down to the mat. Right then I knew I wasn?tthe best in the room anymore. I needed to work everyday.?As Ruschell enters this weekend’s tournament, he hassomewhat of the same situation as last season. Despite being seeded higher, heenters again having two losses in the Big Ten ? to Russell, and to Illinois?Ryan Prater ? in back-to-back matches. Ruschell bounced right back to defeatthen-3rd ranked Rivera as the Badgers upset the Gophers Feb. 17.Davis thinks it’s situations like these where Ruschell?smentality rises above all.?I think experience played a part there,? Davis said. ?Hethought, ?You know, I?m good enough, I?ll bounce back and put that behind meand move forward.? It just says a lot about him as an individual and hismaturity to let things go and move on.?Entering the weekend, Ruschell has a legitimate chance towalk away on top. With the NCAA Championships just two weeks away after thisweekend, Ruschell feels he?s got a legitimate chance there, too. Either way, hehas made his name known not only in Kentucky, but now in Wisconsin and the restof the nation.?I want to win it, of course,? Ruschell said. ?Anything elseis a little bit of a disappointment. First off, I want to get on the stand, but,second, I want to be at the top of it.?last_img

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