2011 Southern Conference Coach of the Year
2013 Southern Conference Coach of the Year
Heath Eslinger (pronounced ESS-leen-guhr) is in his eighth year as the head coach of the Mocs’ wrestling program. A former Southern Conference Wrestler of the Year and UTC alum, Eslinger took over on July 11, 2009.
Eslinger’s impact over the last seven years has been tremendous. He guided the team to six SoCon Regular Season and five Tournament Championships. He is already No. 2 on the UTC career wins list with an 85-45 record, and is an amazing 42-2 in SoCon matches.
The Mocs have been at the forefront of the promotion of collegiate wrestling during Eslinger’s tenure with the creation of the “Chattanooga Strong” brand. His aggressive marketing approach has helped UTC set attendance records in Maclellan Gym during his tenure, including a sold out crowd (2,639) for the Iowa match in 2013.
Eslinger also orchestrated the move of the Southern Scuffle to Chattanooga’s McKenzie Arena in 2012. The Southern Scuffle has grown into the top in-season collegiate tournament in the nation and one of the best attended events in college wrestling.
There has also been a marked improvement in the classroom under Eslinger’s watch. The Mocs have finished in the top-10 in the nation in team g.p.a. among wrestling programs three times and UTC topped a 3.0 as a team for the first time in the fall of 2016.
Prior to UTC, Eslinger spent 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 his last two seasons.
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 was also a well-respected physical education teacher at the high school.
Prior to CHS, 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 (11) and twins, Madelyn and Keelyn (9) and a son, Carson (4). 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 is a regular on the camps and clinics circuit all across the nation.