By Guy Cipriano
Centre Daily Times
The most recent sign of Penn States wrestling prowess: Other Division I programs are scouring its staff for future head coaches.
In a move designed to revive a rich tradition, Clarion has hired Penn State director of wrestling operations Matt Dernlan as its head coach.
Dernlan, a member of the Nittany Lions staff since 2004, played key roles in Penn States NCAA title run and the Nittany Lion Wrestling Clubs emergence as a national freestyle power. Dernlan replaces Teague Moore who left Clarion to become American Universitys head coach in May.
I think anybody in our sport at this level whos an assistant wants to take that next challenge and become a head coach, Dernlan said Monday. I think the exciting thing is that Clarion offered everything Im looking for the history, the tradition, the commitment from the university, the commitment from the community. I have always said it would take a pretty special place to get me away from Penn State because its such an incredible place to work.
Dernlan handled multiple roles at Penn State, serving as former coach Troy Sunderlands first assistant and recruiting coordinator from 2005-09. He returned to the director of operations role, which he held from 2004-05, after Cael Sanderson was hired as head coach in 2009.
Coaching genes run in Dernlans family. His brother, Tim, is the head coach at Division II Ashland University.
I think all my experiences over the last seven years have prepared me for the transition of leading Clarion forward, he said. The great thing about being here for so long is that I have been exposed to so many areas of the program. It has helped me mature as a coach.
Dernlan faces a big challenge. Clarion hasnt produced an All-American since 2005. The Golden Eagles last winning dual meet season was 2002-03. Moore went 37-60-1 and sent eight wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in five seasons.
The school conducted a lengthy and open search process. Dernlan even participated in a public interview session on July 5. Clarion officials also interviewed former Penn State wrestler and current Lock Haven assistant coach Scott Moore.
Clarions tradition intrigued Dernlan. Legendary coach Bob Bubb built the Golden Eagles into one of the Eastern Wrestling Leagues top programs, compiling a 322-121-4 dual meet record and producing seven NCAA champions and 27 All-Americans from 1967-92.
What we need to do is reconnect with the great tradition of Clarion wrestling, Dernlan said. One of the reasons I took the job is that Clarion stands by itself as one of the great programs in college wrestling. Myself and the guys on the team have to buy into that and reconnect with the community.
Bubb helped with Clarions search committee, which also included athletic director Dave Katis and university president Karen Whitney.
Dernlan becomes the sixth coach in Clarions Division I history. The school has fielded Division I wrestling continuously since 1959-60.
Matt possess all the attributes we were looking for in a head coach, Katis said. He has a great background as a wrestler and a coach, is highly respected in wrestling circles, will be an outstanding recruiter and will be a strong, positive leader for our wrestling program in the classroom and on the mats.
Dernlan is an Ohio native, giving him strong ties to two of the nations top wrestling states. Dernlan said Clarion provides potentially fertile recruiting ground.
Right below us is the WPIAL, he said. Right above us is northeast Ohio. Theres a huge pool of talent in those areas.
Dernlan officially starts his duties at Clarion today. But he plans on coaching NLWC athletes through the World Freestyle Championships, which will be held Sept. 16-18 in Istanbul, Turkey. Five NLWC members Sanderson, Teyon Ware, Jake Varner, Franklin Gomez and Jaime Espinal are participating in the tournament.
I talked to Cael and the administration at Clarion and they are supportive of it, Dernlan said. I have put in a lot of work with these guys for two years and this is the end of the road right before the biggest competition of their lives.
Tags: Cael Sanderson, Matt Dernlan, Troy Sunderland