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Ten-year veteran Dernlan selected as head wrestling coach

Former lead assistant at Penn State was head coach at Clarion last year

May 15, 2012

Ten-year veteran Dernlan selected as head wrestling coach

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VESTAL, N.Y. – Matt Dernlan, a 10-year coaching veteran with a strong pedigree and recruiting ties, has been named Binghamton’s new head wrestling coach, Director of Athletics Patrick Elliott announced on Tuesday.

Dernlan, head coach at Clarion University last season, becomes Binghamton’s sixth head coach in 43 years and replaces Pat Popolizio. He inherits a Bearcats program that recorded its highest Division I NCAA finish (14th) and highest national ranking (18th) in school history in 2011-12.

This past winter, Dernlan led Clarion to an 18th place finish at the NCAA Championship – that school’s highest national finish in 15 years. The Golden Eagles had four NCAA qualifiers and crowned two All-Americans – same as Binghamton – at the championship in St. Louis. In his first season at the helm, Dernlan’s squad finished the regular season with a 6-7 dual meet record against some of the top wrestling teams in the nation, placed third at the PSAC Championships, fourth at EWL’s and 11th at the prestigious Midlands Tournament. He was chosen as the Amateur Wrestling News national “Rookie Coach of the Year” for 2011-12.

“We are pleased and fortunate to hire someone with Matt’s integrity and experience,” Elliott said. “He has a noteworthy pedigree of being part of a championship program at the highest level and has shown rapid success as a Division I head coach. Matt is committed to the academic achievement and citizenship of his student-athletes and I believe he is a perfect fit at Binghamton.”

Prior to taking the head coaching reigns at Clarion, Dernlan served seven years at Penn State, helping orchestrate the rise of the Nittany Lions to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2011 and 2012. As head assistant and director of recruiting from 2005-09, he produced three consecutive top-4 nationally-ranked recruiting classes (2005, 2006, 2007) and helped lead PSU to a third-place NCAA finish in 2008. Dernlan served as director of operations from 2009-11 under head coach Cael Sanderson and was part of the Nittany Lions’ staff that captured a 2011 Big Ten crown and then brought home the school’s first NCAA wrestling title since 1953.

“I want to thank President Stenger, Pat Elliott, Ed Scott and the entire search committee at Binghamton University for this tremendous opportunity,” Dernlan said. “It was very evident from our first conversation the passion and commitment they have for the wrestling program. The unbelievable leadership at every level of the university is very inspiring and is paramount in what this program needs to position ourselves upward in the coming years. The wrestling program has achieved a great deal at the Division I level in six short years and I am humbled by Binghamton University’s decision to choose me as the leader to take the program to even greater heights. I am very excited to start this journey and am very grateful for this opportunity.”

At Penn State, Dernlan also was responsible for the academic success of the wrestling team and served as the team’s liaison with admissions, compliance and student-athlete services. Additionally, he was head coach of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, where he coached 10 full-time resident athletes in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games.

A native of West Liberty, Ohio, Dernlan enjoyed an outstanding competitive career and was inducted into the Ohio High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002. At West Liberty-Salem High, he went 154-4 overall and was a three-time, undefeated Ohio state champion (1989-91) and a three-time USA Wrestling High School All-American (1989-91).

Dernlan become an NCAA qualifier at Liberty University as a sophomore 126-pounder in 1993. After he red-shirted in 1994, Liberty dropped its wrestling program but Dernlan stayed at the school and earned his bachelor’s degree in sports management in 1996. He then received a master’s degree in sport administration from Bowling Green in 2002 and has been working toward a Ph.D. in higher education administration from University of Toledo.

He began his coaching career as an assistant at St. Paris Graham High School (Ohio) from 1997-99 and then was an assistant coach at Ohio Northern from 2001-04, where he also served as assistant director in the school’s host role for the 2003 NCAA Division III Championship.

Matt and his wife, Carie, have two daughters, Ava and Aubrey. 

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