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March 16, 2011
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Penn State head wrestling coach Cael Sanderson took part in the pre-tournament press conference for the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships today, joining four other head coaches at the Wells Fargo Center. Sanderson, the 2011 Big Ten Coach of the Year, was joined by four of the nation's top collegiate coaches at the event.
Fresh off winning the 2011 Big Ten Championship on March 5-6 in Evanston, Ill., Sanderson took a myriad of questions from a full press room. He was joined by Iowa head coach Tom Brands, Cornell head coach Rob Koll, Boise State head coach Greg Randall and Oklahoma State head coach John Smith.
"We're very excited to be here," Sanderson said in his opening statement. "Our guys are focused and we hope to make this a special event for all our fans."
Sanderson was asked about how his team responded to its mid-season loss to Iowa and the second-year Lion mentor noted that dealing with adversity is part of wrestling. "It is the nature of this sport to have to deal with adversity when things do not go as planned," Sanderson said. "When that happens, we just stay positive and keep our guys focused. They are a young team but they do a good job of keeping their heads up. That's our philosophy, work hard, focus but enjoy yourself, keep smiling."
Asked about the season that senior Brad Pataky (Clearfield, Pa.) has had, Sanderson was forthright in his assessment of the hurdles the Lion 125-pounder has had to get over this year. "This is Brad's third trip to nationals," Sanderson said. "He's finished just shy of his goals twice and early in the year it looked as if he would not have the chance for one more run. But he has worked very hard to get himself back to this point. He's been diligent with his training and now the opportunity is in front of him. It's in his hands now but I've very happy for him that he at least has the chance to finish his career here at NCAAs."
Red-shirt freshman David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio) was the next topic that Sanderson was asked about and he once again noted the Lion 157-pounders fearlessness. "David is an exceptional athlete," Sanderson said. "He is as fearless a wrestler as I can recall and you can't measure the impact his attitude, style and work ethic has had on our program and will in the future. He loves to compete and the bigger the match, the better he wrestles. He loves the sport unlike anyone I've ever known and he's been that way since he was a young kid growing up in Wyoming."
Sanderson was then asked if he was surprised by the success that red-shirt freshman Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.) has had at 174 this year. "I'm not surprised at all, actually," Sanderson said. "We knew how good Ed was, we could see it last year. He's very competitive and he loves to win. Sometimes you may not think he shows it, but he does and the more excited he gets to perform, the better he wrestles. I'm looking forward to seeing what Ed can do here so close to his hometown."
Sanderson also commented on the importance for wrestling's growth in the east if an east coast team could win the national title this year. "For our program itself, winning the national title would be great," Sanderson said. "Penn State is a unique place, the support that we get from our fans and our administration is amazing, despite the fact that Penn State hasn't won a title in so long. I'm excited for our loyal fans, not just the team. I have been in awe of the support and the genuine love of wrestling Penn State fans have and we are excited about the opportunity to compete for a national title for them."
The 2011 NCAA Championships will be covered in full by the ESPN family of networks. The full television schedule is as follows: Thursday, March 17 - Session one, 11 a.m. (ESPN3) -- Session two, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN3); Friday, March 18 - Session three, 10:30 a.m. (ESPNU & ESPN3 simulcast) - Session four, 7 p.m. (ESPNU & ESPN3 simulcast); Saturday, March 19 - Session five, 11 a.m. (ESPNU & ESPN3 simulcast) - Session six/championship finals, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN). All broadcasts are in HD, including ESPN3. The All Penn State events will once again air live on Forever Broadcasting's WRSC (1390 AM) and WSQV (92.1 FM). All radio broadcasts are streamed live at GoPSUsports.com as part of the All-Access package. The 2010-11 Penn State Wrestling season is presented by The Family Clothesline.