New year. New coach. New faces.
Everything is new this year for the Clarion wrestling team.
The head coach stepped down a month ago; the team lost two of its top wrestlers and welcomed in 12 freshmen.
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They do welcome back sophomore Evan Daley at 285-pounds who had an outstanding freshman season, and sophomore 125-pounder Hunter Jones who contributed to the Golden Eagles’ season.
Keith Ferraro takes over for the departing Troy Letters.
Letters spent two seasons at the helm for the Golden Eagles.
“Troy has accepted a job in the private sector,” Athletic Director Dave Katis told Clarion Sports Information.
“We thank Troy for his hard work and dedication to Clarion wrestling and wish him well in his future.”
Last season, Letters had two wrestlers excel under his reign.
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Freshman Austin Matthews, who has since transferred to Edinboro University, posted a 23-9 record and was recognized as the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) Freshman of the Year for 157-pounds.
Also, Freshman Justin Arthur, who transferred to University of Nebraska after the season, finished with a season record of 23-9 and was one match away from obtaining All-American status for 149-pounds.
With Letters out, assistant coach Ferraro will step in and fill the void.
Challenges are something Ferraro will have.
With Matthews and Austin leaving for other opportunities, Ferraro will have his hands full trying to replace their production and team points.
Ferraro does have a lot of talent and potential on this squad.
Some of these new freshmen faces include the Zachrel brothers, Brock and Brodie, from nearby Brookville High School.
Brock wrestles at 141 and Brodie at 149.
Another freshman to look out for is Evan DeLong at 157 pounds.
All three had storied high school careers and will bring much needed depth to the team.
“This is a tough group of hard workers.” Daley noted about the freshman class.“We expect them to produce big things this year.”
Senior Daniel Sutherland at 184 pounds and junior 174-pounder Michael Pavasko both bring the upperclassmen leadership and experience to help guide the younger members.
Daley said he feels confident in his self and his teammates for this upcoming season.
The wrestler that has the most weight on his shoulders this season is senior Sam Sherlock.
Sherlock, who transferred from Penn State earlier in his career, is dropping from 141 pounds to 133 pounds so Brock Zachrel can wrestle at 141.
Sherlock might be primed for a breakout season.
If he can keep this muscle and technique, he might be able to take full advantage of wrestling lighter than he’s used to.
This roster will have to grow up in a hurry as they host the four-time defending National Champion and No. 5 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions on Nov. 22.
Clarion will also travel to No. 8 ranked Oklahoma State University and No. 14 ranked University of Pittsburgh in mid-February.