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April 17, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Penn State Director of Athletics Tim Curley has confirmed that wrestling legend Cael Sanderson has accepted the position as the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling program. Sanderson, who recently finished his third year as mentor at Iowa State, will take over the reigns of Penn State's program as its 12th head coach.
Sanderson will be introduced to the Penn State community and the media at an introductory press conference on Monday, April 20, at 2 p.m. The event will be in Rec Hall and is open to the public. All those in attendance will be able to view the press conference portion of Sanderson's introduction as the new leader of the Nittany Lion wrestling family. The event will be streamed live on www.GoPSUsports.com.
The 29-year old Sanderson comes to Penn State after three extremely successful years as the head coach at his alma mater. Sanderson's teams did not finish any lower than fifth at the NCAA Championships and never had a wrestler not qualify for nationals, getting 30 of 30 grapplers through to the championship tournament.
In 2007, Sanderson's rookie campaign, he led ISU to a 13-3 dual meet record and the first of three straight Big 12 Championships. An NCAA Runner-Up finish in Detroit capped off a wildly successful year as the Cyclones crowned one national champion and Sanderson was honored as Big 12 Coach of the Year, National Rookie Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year. The next year, Sanderson led ISU to a 16-4 dual meet mark, another Big 12 title and a fifth place finish at nationals. Iowa State's seven All-Americans in 2008 were the most at the school since 1993.
This past season, Sanderson's team went 15-3 in duals, won its third straight Big 12 title and took third place at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis (just 12 points out of first place). The Cyclones also crowned another national champion. In three years, Sanderson's teams went 44-10, won three conference crowns, qualified all 30 wrestlers for nationals, and earned 15 All-America awards and two individual national titles.
As a wrestler, Sanderson established himself as the most dominant collegiate competitor in NCAA history. In four years, Sanderson never lost. From 1999-2002, Sanderson posted a 159-0 career record (going 39-0, 40-0, 40-0 and 40-0); won four individual National Championships; won four Most Outstanding Wrestler awards at the NCAA Championships (the only wrestler in NCAA history to do so); became the first freshman in NCAA history to win the O.W. honor and won three Dan Hodge Trophies as the nation's best collegiate wrestler (also a collegiate first). He wrestled his first three years at 184 and them moved to 197 as a senior.
The four-time All-American's four-year streak of perfection was called the No. 2 most outstanding achievement in collegiate sports history by Sports Illustrated and the NCAA called his final win (in the 2002 NCAA 197-pound championship) one of the NCAA's "25 Defining Moments" for its Centennial celebration. His wrestling career culminated in 2004 when the Heber City, Utah, native won the 84 kg Olympic Gold Medal in Athens, Greece.
After graduating in 2002, he spent 2003 and 2004 as a special assistant in the athletic department at Iowa State before joining the ISU coaching staff as an assistant coach in 2004-05. He was promoted to the assistant head coach position the next year and then became the Cyclones' head coach for the 2006-07 season.
Penn State Wrestling season tickets for the 2009-10 season can be reserved now. To make a $20 deposit on the best Rec Hall locations, fans should call 1.800.NITTANY between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. Current wrestling season ticket holders do not need to make a new deposit and will simply go through the coming renewal process. Penn State wrestling season tickets are all reserved locations in Rec Hall. The exact seat assignments for new commitments will not be available until the renewal cycle is complete, but new season ticket commitments made now will be assigned locations based on Nittany Lion Club point totals and the time/date the deposit was received by Penn State Athletics. Season ticket pricing for the 2009-10 season will be finalized and announced by July 1, 2009.