Audio Interview: Troy Letters
Troy Letters, 29, a 2001 Shaler High grad and former PIAA & NCAA Division I Champion, who was the assistant head coach at Clarion University during the 2011-12 season, was named today as the Interim Head Wrestling Coach for the Golden Eagles by Athletic Director Dave Katis.
Letters replaces Matt Dernlan, who was the Golden Eagles head coach in 2012 and accepted the head coaching position at Binghamton University today.
"I am very happy to announce the hiring of Troy Letters as the Interim Wrestling Coach at Clarion," said Katis. "We were impressed this season with the job Troy did in preparing our team for the rigors of NCAA Division I wrestling both on and off the mat. Troy is an outstanding person with strong character and leadership skills, plus brings a strong wrestling expertise to the program. We feel he is the right person to continue to move our program forward and back to national prominence. We are very fortunate to have him leading our program," he continued. "We are making this announcement today to show how much we believe in Troy and feel it shows Clarion's commitment to a strong, competitive NCAA Division I Wrestling program."
"I am truly honored to be named the interim head coach here at Clarion and look forward to continuing the job that Matt (Dernlan) and I started on a year ago, which is returning Clarion's storied NCAA Division I wrestling tradition back to national prominence," said Letters. "My dream was to become a Division I head coach at a quality program, and I truly believe I have found a home at Clarion."
Letters came to Clarion a year ago from Penn State, where he spent the previous three years helping develop Nittany Lion wrestlers. In 2008-09 he was the Director of Wrestling Operations, and his last two years (2009-10; 2010-11) as an assistant coach. Penn State won the NCAA Division I National Championship in 2011 with Cael Sanderson as head coach.
A native of Pittsburgh and a 2001 graduate of Shaler High School, Letters wrestled under coach Rick Laferriere and compiled a 145-5 record at Shaler and won PIAA State titles as a junior in 2000 (152-pounds) and a senior in 2001 (160-pounds). He also placed second at PIAA's as a sophomore in 1999 (145-pounds). He had over 100 falls in his high school career and as a senior won the Wade Schalles Pinner Award (former Golden Eagle standout) for most falls in a single season.
Letters went on to wrestle at Lehigh under coach Greg Strobel and amassed a career record of 115-9 (31 falls) from 2003-2006. Troy was an NCAA runner-up as a freshman in 2003 at 165-pounds with a season record of 34-2, then won the NCAA D-I title at 165 in 2004 with a record of 36-1. He placed third at nationals in 2005 at 165-pounds with a record of 27-1 and qualified for nationals his senior year, but an injury kept him out the second half of the year and hampered him at nationals. Troy was a 3-time EIWA Champion and had a dual meet career record of 65-2.
After graduating from Lehigh with a degree in Political Science, he was the head assistant coach at Princeton in 2006-07 and then ran his own wrestling club for a year before joining the Penn State staff.
"I have great memories of Clarion - especially coming to wrestling camp here as a youth wrestler, and remember the tradition that Clarion enjoyed then," reflected Letters. "We used to come to matches and root for Clarion. Hopefully I can take what I've learned in the past year here at Clarion, as a coach at Penn State and as a wrestler and apply that knowledge to help our wrestlers become their absolute best. Wrestling is a blue collar sport and Clarion is a blue collar community. I love being part of this community and look forward to working with the administration, staff, faculty, wrestlers and the community and look forward to making Clarion a special place in the wrestling world."
Letters and wife Concepcion have daughters Blythe and Concetta. The family resides in Clarion. Troy is the son of Jeff and Kathy Letters.
CLARION WRESTLING NOTES: Troy Letters is only the seventh (7th) 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. Teague Moore from 2007 - 2011 and Dernlan in 2012. In dual meet history the Golden Eagles are 516-323-17 over that time… The program was re-started in the 1959-60 season under head coach Frank Lignelli ... Lignelli was the coach from 1960-66 with a record of 61-12... He passed the torch to Bob Bubb, who from 1966-92, put Clarion wrestling on the national stage... Bubb had a career record of 322-121-4 ... Bubb led Clarion to a 4th place team finish at D-I nationals in 1973, sixth in 1972 and 87 and eighth in 1992, his final season... Bubb coached 7 D-I champions, 3 college division champs, 27 All-Americans, 29 EWL winners and 68 PSAC champs ... Bubb will be remembered for two special athletes, namely Wade Schalles and Kurt Angle... Both were named to the NCAA/NWCA 75th Anniversary Team in March of 2005... Schalles had an amazing career record of 153-5-1, won 2 NCAA titles and posted an NCAA record 106 pins ... Angle also was a 2-time NCAA D-I Champion, posted a record of 116-10-2 and also won an Olympic Gold Medal in 1996 ... On June 4, 2005, Bubb was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma .... Jack Davis was Clarion's head coach from 1993-97 with a record of 43-34-5, Nellis (47-89-3; 1998-2006), and Moore (37-60-1)... Clarion has 8 D-I National Champions, 45 All-Americans, 54 EWL winners and 112 PSAC Champions... That also includes 14 PSAC and 3 EWL team titles…. In 2011 Clarion won the PSAC team title, placed fourth at EWL's and qualified two wrestlers to the NCAA Division I Nationals in 157-lb James Fleming (West Mifflin) and 165-lb Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)… In 2012 Clarion was third at PSAC's, fourth at EWL's and 18th at the NCAA Division I National Championships… Clarion had 2 D-I All-Americans in 2012 when Abdurakhmonov, a senior, finished third at 165-pounds, and Fleming, a junior, finished fifth at 157-pounds… Interestingly, Frank Lignelli (Monongahela), Ken Nellis (Shaler), Troy Letters (Shaler) and Teague Moore (North Allegheny) are all Western Pa. products… Letters and Nellis both from Shaler High School … Coach Bubb was a native of Lock Haven, but a Pitt grad and All-American… Jack Davis, from Lake Lehman, also was a Clarion grad and long-time clarion assistant coach.