ANN ARBOR, Mich. — University of Michigan wrestling head coach Sean Bormet announced today (Wednesday, April 18) the retention of Josh Churella and Kellen Russell as U-M assistant coaches. Churella recently completed his sixth year on the Wolverine coaching staff, while Russell was elevated to a full-time position after serving four seasons as volunteer coach.
“Josh and Kellen share an unmatched enthusiasm for our sport and a deep sense of pride and passion for the University of Michigan,” said Bormet. “Both exemplify excellence, leadership and character, which are important to a long-term winning culture. I wanted coaches that are performance-minded as well as ones who care deeply about our student-athletes on and off the mat. The three of us have worked well together over the last few years as assistants, so it’s a very smooth transition for our staff and the team.”
“I am excited to help continue to lead this program as an assistant coach,” said Churella. “I was born a Michigan fan, was blessed to be a student-athlete here and have been fortunate to coach at this great university for six years. I look forward to help build off the momentum we have and take Michigan wrestling to new heights. As a staff, this has been a very smooth transition. Sean, Kellen and I work very well together. We all are Michigan grads, who share a great passion for wrestling and this university.”
“I have been privileged to be involved with Michigan wrestling for the past 10 years,” said Russell, “and I’m excited for the opportunity to invest in the growth of our student-athletes on and off the mat. One of the reasons I chose to come to the University of Michigan was the chance to train with Josh, and one of the reasons I stayed was the chance to train under Sean. So, to be able to work with and learn from two of the best coaches in the country continues to be an amazing opportunity.”
Michigan has boasted 16 All-Americans and three straight top-10 NCAA finishes over the last four seasons with Bormet, Churella and Russell serving as assistants on Joe McFarland‘s coaching staff. The Wolverines claimed fourth place at the 2018 NCAA Championships behind five All-Americans and a pair of finalists, and posted an 11-3 dual-meet record in 2017-18 — including a 7-2 mark in Big Ten duals. U-M also placed third at the Big Ten Championships with two individual champions.
Overlapping as Wolverine teammates for one season, Churella and Russell enjoyed distinguished collegiate careers of their own. Churella (2005-08) was a three-time NCAA All-American at 141 and 149 pounds. He posted a 124-21 record — ranking 16th among Michigan’s all-time wins leaders — including a career-best 31-5 record during his junior season — the same year he advanced to the 149-pound final at the NCAA Championships. Churella began his career at 141 pounds, where he won a Big Ten title and earned All-America honors as a freshman.
Russell (2008-09, ’11-12) was a two-time NCAA 141-pound champion (2011, ’12) and three-time All-American. He became the sixth multiple champion in U-M program history and claimed 71 of 72 matches over his final two seasons, including wins against Cal Poly’s Boris Novachkov (3-2) and Iowa’s Montell Marion (6-4 SV) in his 2011 and 2012 NCAA championship finals, respectively.
Russell also captured four Big Ten titles at 141 pounds, becoming just the 11th four-time Big Ten champion in conference history and the first in Michigan history. He was named the Co-Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships as a senior (2012) and Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2008. Twice named Michigan’s Male Athlete of the Year (2011, ’12), Russell completed his collegiate career with a 134-12 record, tying for eighth place on Michigan’s all-time wins list. His career win percentage of .918 ranks second in program history.