Cael Sanderson

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Cael Sanderson
Weight 184 lb (83 kg)
Born (1979-06-20) June 20, 1979 (age 38)
Salt Lake City, Utah
High school Heber City (UT) Wasatch
State championships 4 (Utah)
College Iowa State University
NCAA championships 11 (4 competing, 7 coaching)
Olympic team United States of America
Olympic medal Gold
Status Head Coach for Penn State Nittany Lions Wrestling

Cael Norman Sanderson (/ˈkl/ KAYL; born June 20, 1979) is an American former folkstyle and freestyle wrestler, and is the current head wrestling coach as Pennsylvania State University. As a wrestler, he won an Olympic gold medal and four NCAA Division I individual titles. In 2002, Sports Illustrated recognized his college career as the second most impressive feat in college sports history.[1]

Early life[edit]

Sanderson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is the third of four brothers.[2]

Wrestling career[edit]


Sanderson competed for the wrestling team at Iowa State University. In his first year, Sanderson did not officially compete. During each of the next four years, Sanderson was an undefeated national champion.

Sanderson won the Dan Hodge Trophy as the nation's most outstanding college wrestler three times.[3] Sanderson's college accomplishments also included an overall record of 159 wins to zero losses; four NCAA Division I titles; four NCAA Division I national tournament Outstanding Wrestler awards; and four Big 12 Conference titles.


Sanderson won a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece[4] as well as a silver medal at the 2003 World Wrestling Championships.[5] Sanderson also would have represented the United States in world competition in 2002. However, citing security concerns, the American freestyle team chose to not compete that year.[6]

In 2011, Sanderson came out of retirement and placed fifth in the world.[7] By 2011, however, he was the head wrestling coach at Pennsylvania State University, and could only train when his coaching responsibilities were taken care of.[8]

Match results[edit]

World Championships & Olympics
Res. Record Opponent Score Date Event Location
2011 UWW world 5th at 84kg
Loss 13–3 Russia Albert Saritov 0–1, 0–3 September 17, 2011 2011 World Wrestling Championships Turkey Istanbul, Turkey
Win 13–2 Iran Alireza Goudarzi 6–0, 1–0
Win 12–2 Kazakhstan Yermek Baiduashov 4–3, 0–1, 2–1
Win 11–2 South Korea Yoon Chan-uk Fall
Loss 10–2 Azerbaijan Sharif Sharifov 8–2
Win 10–1 Mexico Alejandro Gallardo 6–0, 7–0
2004 Olympic 1st, gold medalist(s) at 84kg
Win 9–1 South Korea Moon Eui-jae 3–1 August 28, 2004 2004 Olympic Games Greece Athens, Greece
Win 8–1 Cuba Yoel Romero 3–2
Win 7–1 Iran Majid Khodaei 6–5
Win 6–1 Belarus Siarhei Borchanka 9–1
Win 5–1 Kazakhstan Magomed Kurugliyev 4–2
2003 UWW world 2nd, silver medalist(s) at 84kg
Loss 4–1 Russia Sazhid Sazhidov 3–4 September 12, 2003 2003 World Wrestling Championships United States New York, New York
Win 4–0 Georgia (country) Rezav Mindorashvili 4–2
Win 3–0 Armenia Mahmed Aghaev 3–0
Win 2–0 Iran Majid Khodaei 8–2
Win 1–0 Finland Tero Perkkioe 8–2

Coaching career[edit]

Iowa State[edit]

Sanderson began his coaching career with the season ending in 2004 as a special assistant for the wrestling team at Iowa State University. After short stints in associate head coaching positions, he became the head coach for the season ending in 2007. In three seasons, Sanderson led the Iowa State University wrestling team to NCAA Division I national placements of second, fifth, and third.[9] He also coached his wrestlers to two individual NCAA Division I national titles.

Penn State[edit]

Before the season ending in 2010, Sanderson became the head wrestling coach at Pennsylvania State University. As of 2018, Sanderson has won seven NCAA Division I team titles.[10] During that time, he also coached his wrestlers to 20 individual NCAA Division I national titles.

Coaching results[edit]

Coaching Record
Year Team Finish Dual Record All Americans National Champions
Iowa State University
2007 2nd, silver medalist(s) 13-3-0 4 1
2008 5th 16-4-0 7 0
2009 3rd, bronze medalist(s) 15-3-0 4 1
Pennsylvania State University
2010 9th 13-6-1 3 0
2011 1st, gold medalist(s) 17-1-1 5 1
2012 1st, gold medalist(s) 13-1-0 6 3
2013 1st, gold medalist(s) 13-1-0 5 2
2014 1st, gold medalist(s) 15-1-0 7 2
2015 6th 11-4-0 5 1
2016 1st, gold medalist(s) 16-0-0 6 2
2017 1st, gold medalist(s) 14-0-0 6 5
2018 1st, gold medalist(s) 14-0-0 8 4
Career 170-24-2 66 22

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 1st, gold medalist(s) Ion Corneanu Memorial
  • 1st, gold medalist(s) Summer Olympics
  • 1st, gold medalist(s) Manitoba Open
  • John Smith Award as the Freestyle Wrestler of the Year[11]

Other honors[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]