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Matt Dernlan named new head wrestling coach at Clarion

Long-time Penn State assistant and director of operations taking the helm at EWL school

Matt Dernlan, 39, who grew up in West Liberty, Ohio and who has been an assistant wrestling coach at Penn State (2011 NCAA Div. I National Champions) for the past seven seasons, was named today as Clarion University’s head wrestling coach, it was announced by athletic director Dave Katis.

Dernlan replaces Teague Moore, who was the Golden Eagles head coach for the past five seasons and was recently named head wrestling coach at American University.

Matt comes to Clarion from Penn State where he was director of operations from 2009 – 2011 under head coach Cael Sanderson and part of the Nittany Lion staff that brought an NCAA D-I National Championship home in 2011. He was the first assistant and recruiting coordinator at PSU from 2005-2009 and helped lead the Lions to a third place team finish in 2008. He was directly responsible three top 4 national recruiting classes in 2005, 2006, 2007 and also a top contributor in the outstanding 2010 class. He was also director of operations at PSU in 2004-2005.

Prior to his coaching experience at Penn State, Dernlan was the assistant coach at Ohio Northern University from 2001 – 2004, was assistant director of the Jeff Jordan Champ Camps from 1999-2000 and 1995-98 and assistant wrestling coach at St. Paris Graham High School in Ohio from 1997-99.

“I am excited to announce that Matt Dernlan has accepted the position as head wrestling coach at Clarion University,” said athletic director Dave Katis. “Matt possesses all the attributes we were looking for in a head coach,” he continued. “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. He is committed to graduating student-athletes and is motivated to be the best. The Clarion wrestling tradition is in good hands with Matt Dernlan.”

Dernlan becomes only the sixth head coach at NCAA Division I Clarion since 1960. Frank Lignelli re-started the wrestling program in the Fall of 1959 and coached through 1966. Bob Bubb elevated the program to elite NCAA Division I status as head coach from 1967- 92, while Jack Davis mentored from 1993-97, Ken Nellis from 1998-2006 and Moore from 2007 – 2011.

“I am honored and humbled to accept the opportunity to become the next head wrestling coach at Clarion University,” said Dernlan. “I want to thank President Whitney, Harry Tripp, Dave Katis, coach Bubb and the wrestling search committee for putting their faith in me in to lead this prestigious wrestling program.”

“I have been overwhelmed by the level of support the program attracts from our alumni, the community and the institution itself. I am eager to confront the challenges of reconnecting the program to its rich tradition, while at the same time being mindful of the responsibility for myself, the staff and the members of the program, that we must add to our tradition.”

“I so admire and respect former Clarion head coach Bob Bubb,” said Dernlan. “He built a tradition that only a few men have achieved in our great sport. He is a man dedicated to building men of integrity, character and action. His record stands among the nations elite and is an NWCA Wrestling Hall of Famer. I hope to follow and build upon the qualities that coach Bubb was dedicated to, along with all of the great men who have built the tradition and family that I am now a part of. I hope to honor them all by doing things the right way for the right reasons and restore Clarion wrestling to national prominence.”

Matt started his wrestling career at West Liberty – Salem High School (Ohio) where he was a three-time Ohio Class III State Champion and amassed an unbelievable overall record of 120-0 over those three years. A 34-4 record as a freshman gave him a high school record of 154-4 under coach Eric Harman.

After graduating from West Liberty – Salem in 1991, Matt attended Liberty University and wrestled for coach Don Shuler. Wrestling at 126-pounds, Dernlan was an NCAA Div. I National qualifier as a sophomore in 1993. After red-shirting the 1994 season, Liberty dropped its wrestling program and Dernlan stayed at Liberty to graduate in 1996 with a degree in Sport Management. He has also earned a Masters Degree in 2002 from Bowling Green State University in sport Administration and has been working towards a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Toledo.

Inducted into the Ohio High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002, Dernlan also was a three-time USA Wrestling High School All-American (1989-91).

Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson is happy for the former PSU assistant. “Matt has done a great job here at Penn State and has been an important part of our staff. While we will miss him, we are very excited and pleased for him personally as he takes over the Clarion wrestling program.”

Matt is currently the head coach of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club (2009-10; 2010-11) and has five wrestlers from the club who will be wrestling at the World Freestyle Championships in Istanbul, Turkey September 16-18. Three wrestlers representing the USA include Cael Sanderson, Teyon Ware and Jake Varner, while two representing Puerto Rice include Franklin Gomez and Jaime Espinal. Dernlan will attend the World Championships and coach those five wrestlers.

“I would also like to thank Penn State A. D. Tim Curley for offering me the opportunity to be a part of the Penn State family. I have been blessed to work with the greatest coaching staff in the country and take great pride in what we have accomplished together. I also want to thank Cael Sanderson for his help and guidance, along with the other coaches who have been instrumental in getting me prepared to be Clarion University’s head coach.”

Matt and wife Carie have two daughters Ava and Aubrey. He is the son of David and Susan Dernlan who currently reside in Ashland, Ohio. Matt has three brothers including Jeff, Steve and Tim – all wrestlers.

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