Ashland University head wrestling coach Tim Dernlan has announced that he's leaving the university to accept the position of principal at Tall Oaks Classical School in New Castle, Del. Tall Oaks Classical School features Classical Christian Education. The school includes grades kindergarten through 12th grade.
Dernlan will become the school's headmaster in 2014-15.
"I would like to thank Dr. Finks, Bill Goldring and the Ashland University wrestling family for the wonderful experience of coaching the AU wrestling team for the past five years," said Dernlan. "I have been very encouraged by the support I received from everyone working in the athletic department, Marcus Gordon and the rest of our coaching staff, athletic trainers, alumni, my parents and the parents of all the young men I have been blessed to work with in the past five years.
"I will miss all the wrestlers very much," continued Dernlan. "I know there are several national champions on the team and I will enjoy following and watching their careers unfold from my new position in New Castle, Delaware. I will be transitioning out of coaching and into classical Christian School education administration as the principal of Tall Oaks Classical School. I am looking forward to this new challenge and believe it will be a positive experience for my family."
"Tim Dernlan did a remarkable job with our wrestling program," said AU director of athletics Bill Goldring. "He wants to take his life in a different direction and I understand and support his decision. That being said, he will be difficult to replace and he will be missed. I know he will have continued success in his future endeavors."
Dernlan spent five highly successful years at Ashland. He ends his AU career with a 45-24-2 record. In 2013 the Eagles were 15th at the national championship meet and two wrestlers received All-America awards. The 2012 Eagles were 13th at nationals.
In 2010-11, AU was 15-2-1, finished second in the region and 20th at the national meet. Dernlan was honored as the Midwest Region coach of the year. That year, the Eagles authored one of the most impressive turnarounds in the nation. In 2009-10, Ashland was 4-12.
On Dernlan's watch, the Eagles were held to high standards not just on the mat, but in the classroom and in the community. His 2009-10 team was fifth in the nation in team grade point average (3.254) and his 2010-11 team was sixth (3.269).
All of these numbers don't do justice to the turnaround Dernlan engineered. He took a program that was struggling and increased the level of success and the base numbers. AU will start the fall with a 52-man roster. The depth chart is stocked with talent.
"I think what I'm proudest of is that we are a program of integrity," said Dernlan. "I think we've established a reputation on campus and around the state for doing things the right way and treating people the right way. As a by-product of that, we've had success. It's been neat to see the success we've had as a result of not cutting corners."
Dernlan came to Ashland after stints as an assistant coach at Lehigh, Penn State, Ohio State and Purdue.
As a wrestling coach, Dernlan was known for his passion and never-ending reserve of energy. He'll take those traits and apply them to a new venture.
"It's been good," said Dernlan of his time as a wrestling coach. "I'm looking forward to a career change and this is good for my family."
Still, Dernlan acknowledges that this is a move that's caused him to reflect a great deal. He began wrestling when he was seven years old. He's spent 32 years in the sport.
"It's hard, I've been in wrestling all my life," said Dernlan.
Dernlan is not, however, a stranger to high school education. He earned an education degree from Purdue in 1998 and his master's degree in educational leadership from Lehigh in 2008. This spring, he received his Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies from Ashland.
Dernlan has taught speech and theatre and mathematics on the high school level.
Dernlan and his wife, Kara, have four children – Boaz, 10, Zeke, 8, Rebecca, 6 and Anna, 3.