Local wrestling star pins down assistant coaching spot

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The Utah Valley Wolverines have announced the hiring of Justin Ruiz, arguably the most decorated wrestler to come from the state of Utah. Ruiz brings much experience to a coaching staff that has already seen success. Last year the Wolverines were able to schedule matches against big-time opponents such as Penn State.

Utah Valley University hired Justin Ruiz as an assistant coach onto their wrestling team.

Utah Valley University hired Justin Ruiz as an assistant coach onto their wrestling team.

He has recently retired from competing, will be able to show the team what it’s like to face major competition. “I think I bring a lot of experience to the table,” Ruiz said. “I’ve seen a lot of wrestling and been all over the world. As far as coaching, I’ve seen a lot of styles. I’ve recently stopped competing, so I feel I can relate to the athletes.”

Ruiz is a significant hire for UVU. He is well known for his body of work as a wrestler. As a youth wrestling in the state of Utah, he was coached by current Wolverine head coach, Greg Williams, at the club level. The two have kept in contact over the years. Ruiz has even coached part-time on Williams’ staff in the past, during the 2007-08 season, but says he is looking forward to coaching full-time now. He credits that strong relationship with Williams, as well as having family living in the state of Utah, for being the reason he wanted to come coach for the Wolverines, and he has bigger goals beyond the UVU wrestling team. “A big part [in deciding to coach at UVU] was my relationship with Greg and that my family lives in Utah. I wanted to get back to Utah. I’m excited to also help the youth of the state. They have high goals and I want to help them achieve those goals.”

Ruiz will primarily work with the heavyweight and has goals of producing Conference Champions, All-Americans and even National Champions. “We have tough guys that will do really well,” Ruiz said. “We are definitely headed in the right direction.”

Ruiz was a three-time state champion at Taylorsville High School in Utah. In addition to his success in the state of Utah during his high school career, he was a three-time ASICS Junior National Champion, a high school national champion and the winner of the Dave Schultz High School excellence award in 1998 among other accolades.

He went on to wrestle at the University of Nebraska where he was an All-American. He competed worldwide where some of his accomplishments include twice being named an Olympic alternate, a World Cup Silver Medalist and being a member of the 2007 U.S. Greco-Roman Team, the first and only such team to win a World Championship.