Ferraro and Bagoly

Clarion University wrestling coach Keith Ferraro, right, shakes the hand of Ty Bagoly after a bout last year. Ferraro enters his seventh season as Golden Eagles coach and it’s been quite an offseason as the program adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic challenges. The season starts Jan. 9 and Bagoly tries to repeat last year’s NCAA national qualifying performance at heavyweight.

CLARION — Keith Ferraro is still a wrestling coach at Clarion University. He just doesn’t feel that way all the time.

But he definitely feels good about where his program is at heading into the holiday season. A schedule awaits the Golden Eagles starting in January.

“I’m just managing an organization right now,” Ferraro smiled Monday night. “It has very little to do with wrestling and fortunately I have good coaches who can take care of details of that. I’m just trying to keep this train moving and quite frankly, I think (a season) is going to happen.

“There were times I would’ve said that optimistically and not really meant it. I think there will be hiccups and canceled events and matches where the wrong team wins because of so many guys out and there’ll be some weird things, but I think you’re going to see something that resembles a season.”

Ferraro said that the Golden Eagles will be wrestling Jan. 9 at West Point against Army in some type of multiple-dual meet schedule. The team will be announcing its schedule sometime after Christmas.

A season for the wrestlers wasn’t easily assumed. Clarion fields a NCAA Division I wrestling program while the other teams on campus are Division II. The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference decided last month to not have a championship postseason tournament in its sports, but since the Golden Eagles are a member of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in wrestling, that’s the lead the program took.

So Ferraro had his team on campus in early fall and has had workouts throughout the fall. A lot of testing and mitigation efforts and practice plans have gotten the Golden Eagles to this point.

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“It’s been a lot of rolling with the punches,” Ferraro said. “You name the model and we’ve probably used it at some point. We’re trying to work with things that results in less quarantining if guys test positive, but it’s kind of an evolution where we adhere very closely to the Department of Health and the CDC (Center for Disease Control). We’re constantly reviewing new guidelines and what’s the best way to stay safe.”

Ferraro’s coaching staff consists of his former wrestling and four-time national qualifier Brock Zacherl. He and Nick Deloia are volunteer assistants with Nathan Kraisser Ferraro’s lead assistant coach.

On the roster this year are three District 9 natives in Brookville’s Taylor Ortz and Caleb Hetrick, Redbank Valley’s Ethan Wiant and recent transfer Kolby Ho of DuBois. Ho comes from George Mason where he wrestled as a freshman last year.

The Golden Eagles were 10-6 in dual meets last year, 7-4 in the MAC. Zacherl was one of three national qualifiers with the other two returning with red-shirt senior Greg Bulsak at 197 pounds and red-shirt junior Ty Bagoly at heavyweight.

Ferraro and his squad, denied a trip to Minneapolis last year, hope that some of their wrestlers earn a berth to nationals this year, still scheduled for March 18-20 in St. Louis.

“There’s no reason to believe there’s a change at this point,” Ferraro said.

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