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Cael Sanderson sets college win streak mark with 101st straight in first session of Cliff Keen/NWCA



Cael Sanderson of Iowa State has established himself as the most prolific winner in college wrestling history, breaking the record for the most consecutive victories in history. Sanderson, who competes at 184 pounds, won his 101st straight college wrestling match, during the first round of the 2001 NWCA National Dual Meet Championships in Bryce Jordan Arena, on the campus of Penn State Univ. in State College, Pa., January 20. He breaks the record of wrestling legend Dan Gable, who also competed for Iowa State, who ran off 100 straight wins in the early 1970's. There was some question whether the record was 98 or 100, as the NCAA does not have official records, but the 100-match streak recognized by Iowa State is now broken. "It's pretty cool," said Sanderson. "I know I have some tough matches here, good individuals to compete against, and that is what I have been focused on. It feels really good to finally pass the record." "Cael is Cael; what you see is what you get," said Iowa State head coach Bobby Douglas. "He's a humble gentleman, a good citizen. His legacy will be defined many years from now. He can go as far as the moon. It's not fair to make a ranking for him right now. As far as a college wrestler goes, he's done what nobody else has done." What makes Sanderson's achievement so amazing is that he has still never lost a college match, going undefeated for the first two and a half seasons of his career. Sanderson won NCAA Div. I titles as a freshman and sophomore, and was named Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Championships both seasons. He received the Dan Hodge Trophy as the best college wrestler in the nation last year. Iowa State drew Montclair State of New Jersey, a top Div. III team, in the morning session at the National Duals. Montclair State was third in the 2000 NCAA Div. III Nationals, and is attending the 16-team championships representing Div. III schools. His opponent in the record-setting match was Alex Aliakseyenka, a freshman who is from the Eastern European nation of Belarus. It is ironic that Sanderson would set his U.S. college record against an athlete from a foreign nation, as Sanderson has high goals and expections in international freestyle wrestling. Sanderson was the 2000 World University freestyle champion, and is nationally respected on the Senior level in freestyle. Sanderson scored the only takedown in the first period, leading 2-0. In the second period, he took bottom and escaped quickly, and began his takedown assualt. Sanderon wracked up four takedowns in the second stanza, letting Aliakseyenka up each time. The third period featured another three takedowns, as well as two stalling penalties against Aliakseyenka, ending with a 21-6 margin. Iowa State went on to win the first-round dual meet, 29-18 and advance to the second round in the championship bracket. "It will be nice to get the attention back to the team, " said Sanderson. "I won't appreciate this until I'm out of college. I'm doing things now to focus about who I face next, rather than on records. To leave a mark that people are gunning for will be fun to look back on later on. This was like any other match. I tried to relax and enjoy myself." When asked about beating Dan Gables record, the sport's largest legend, and establishing his own legacy, Sanderson was humble. "It is neat to be compared to any of the wrestling legends. My own legacy will come about. It's not something I care about now." Sanderson is originally from Heber City, Utah, where he competed for his father Steve Sanderson at national power Wasatch High School. He is the third Sanderson brother to compete for Bobby Douglas, following older brothers Cody and Cole to Ames. The Sanderson family has played an important role in helping Iowa State remain a major national power on the Div. I level. Coach Douglas saw some special things in Sanderson, right from the recruiting process. "Cael was a great athlete. He had an intensity about him. He has a passion for the sport. He loves to train and work hard. His mindset was special. I recall asking him a question about his goals. He said that he wanted to be a four-time national champion and an Olympic and World champion. He has all then qualities of greatness."
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