Olympic Wrestling Gold Medalist
Cael Sanderson is one of the most decorated collegiate wrestlers of all-time. After a successful collegiate career, Sanderson has continued his dominance onto to the world and Olympic circuits. While a member of the Iowa State wrestling team, Sanderson became only the second four-time NCAA Champion. During his run, he never lost a match, on his way to an unbelievable 159-0 career record. Sports Illustrated named his undefeated career at Iowa State as the number two most outstanding achievement in the history of collegiate athletics.
Sanderson’s awards and recognitions are endless. In 1999, he was named the Iowa State Male Athlete of the Year and was named the nation’s top prep wrestler at 171 pounds by Amateur Wrestling News in 1997. He is a three-time winner of the Dan Hodge Award (1999-2002), which is given to the top collegiate wrestler in the nation, and was the first wrestler to win the award multiple times. He was named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler each year from 1999-2002, becoming the first freshman to receive the honor. He was also a four time Big 12 Champion and was a finalist for the 2002 James E. Sullivan award presented to the best amateur athlete in the nation. In addition, he has been featured on the cover of a Wheaties Box. Finding success outside of his career at Iowa State, Sanderson was named the US Freestyle Nationals Outstanding Wrestler in 2001. He went on to compete in his first Olympic Games in 2004 in Athens, winning a gold medal. Sanderson was the 1999 South Korea National Invitation Tournament Champion, the 2000 University World Champion, and the 2003-2004 Manitoba Open Champion. He also won a silver medal at the 2003 World Championship.
Sanderson later turned to coaching and led his alma mater to three consecutive Big 12 titles, from 2007-2009. In his rookie campaign, he was named Big 12 Coach of the Year, National Rookie Coach of the Year, and National Coach of the Year.
In 2009, after his successful tenure at Iowa State, Sanderson was named the Head Wrestling Coach at Penn State University. With the help of Associate Head Coach and brother Cody Sanderson, he turned a losing team around in his first season, improving upon the team’s 8-12-2 mark to a 13-6-1 dual meet record in his first season. The Nittany Lions won their first ever Big Ten Championship in his second year with the school while Sanderson received 2011 Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. Also in 2011, Penn State achieved their first ever NCAA Championship. In his five years as a head coach, Sanderson is 74-17-2 overall, including 30-7-2 at Penn State and has won three total National Championships.
Sanderson and his wife Kelly reside in State College, Pa.
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