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Distinguished Member - CAEL SANDERSON



Cael Sanderson’s first win as an Iowa State freshman in 1998 received little fanfare. By the time his collegiate career concluded, Sanderson had set an unprecedented record that may never be equaled.

Under the guidance of Hall of Fame coach Bobby Douglas, Sanderson wrestled 159 official collegiate matches and won all 159—going 39-0 at 184 pounds as a freshman and posting three straight 40-0 seasons, the last at 197 pounds.

Sanderson won every college tournament he entered, and also won four NCAA Championships Outstanding Wrestler Awards. No wrestler before had won more than two. Following his 12-4 win over Lehigh’s Jon Trenge in the 2002 NCAA championship finals in Albany, New York, Sanderson joined Oklahoma State’s Pat Smith in an exclusive club: four-time NCAA Division I champions. He is the only undefeated four-time Division I champion in the history of collegiate wrestling.

Prior to attending Iowa State, Cael, coached by his father Steve, won four individual Utah state championships, posting a 127-3 record at Wasatch High School in Heber City, Utah.

After college, he took on the world, qualifying for the 2001 and 2002 World Championships, but did not compete. At the 2003 World Championships in New York City, the former Cyclone superstar won a silver medal in the 185-pound class.

Yet it was at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, that Sanderson reached the highest pinnacle of the sport, defeating Eau Jae Moon of South Korea to win an Olympic gold medal.

Sanderson became head coach at Iowa State in 2006, leading his team to three Big 12 titles and three top-five NCAA finishes. In 2009, he was named head coach at Penn State. Two years later in Philadelphia, he led the Nittany Lions to their first NCAA title since 1953.

In recognition of historic achievements that may never be equaled, Cael Sanderson is honored as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
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