While Coy Ruess could have wrestled one more season at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and taken advantage of an additional year of eligibility the NCAA gave to student-athletes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ruess is ready to move on.
In fact, it’s been the plan all along.
“When I was deciding on a college, Platteville stuck out to me because of their engineering program,” he said. “It’s in the top tier in the nation, and pretty cheap for what you’re getting out of it. So it was the best return on investment. It also allowed me to continue wrestling and I’m happy I made that decision. But here I am now as a senior, time flies by.”
Ruess enrolled at UW-P after graduating from West Liberty High School in 2019 and majored in civil engineering, a program that UW-P ranks favorably against nearly all other universities in the country, and is set to graduate in May with his degree and a job already lined up.
“Back in November, I accepted a position that will start in June in DeForest (Wis.),” Ruess said. “It’s with a railroad contractor (SW Bridge Engineers). I’ll be doing design and inspection of railroad bridges throughout the Midwest, so I’ll be in the office some, but also out in the field quite a bit.”
A senior academically and junior athletically, Ruess concluded his collegiate career with a 15-14 record with four pins and seven bonus-point wins. He won double digit matches in each season in college except for the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season.
Furthermore, he saved some of his best performances for last as he won a spot in the Pioneers’ lineup and competed at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference meet before placing sixth at the UW-P’s Division III regional tournament at 165 pounds.
In a way, history repeated itself for Ruess.
As a freshman at West Liberty, he had to win a spot at 106 in an ultra-competitive Comet lineup that ultimately sent a pair of top-three finishers to the Class 2A state tournament in Bryce Esmoil and University of Iowa grappler Joe Kelly. Though Ruess fell short of making it to state as a freshman and sophomore, he went a very respectable 27-10 and took second at sectionals and at the River Valley Conference meet as a freshman.
“It’s been fun,” Ruess said. “College wrestling is definitely a whole other beast compared to high school. You kind of have to do it to understand how different it is. But I’m proud of myself for having done it and sticking it out through all the injuries and hard times.”
For his career at West Liberty, Ruess went 146-44 and earned a spot on the medal stand as a senior with an eighth place at state. He was a two-time RVC champ and two-time district champ as he moved up the ranks from lightweight freshman to 152-pound senior.
Now, as he reflects back on his wrestling career in its totality, he thinks the time on the mat will serve him well as he moves on to the next chapter of his life.
“Wrestlers work hard and have to deal with a lot of adversity,” he said. “I really didn’t even have a spot in the lineup until this year, and even then, we had a transfer come in after (the holiday break) that I had to fight for my spot against.
“Wrestling is a hard sport. It teaches you leadership and how to work together as a team to get the most out of each individual. Compared to other sports -- I was in track and football in high school -- and in those, it seemed like the weight of the competition was distributed amongst the team. When you wrestle, you’re out there by yourself and responsible for whatever the outcome is.”