For people that aren’t too familiar with amateur wrestling and are more familiar with MMA to truly put into words to fathom just how dominant of a wrestler Cael Sanderson was then just considered this, he has victories over 2 weight UFC Champion Daniel Cormier as well as holding a victory over UFC Middleweight contender Yoel Romero. Elite level wrestlers don’t even amuse the idea that someone can topple what Cael Sanderson achieved at a collegiate level because it simply cannot be done, the only way to achieve this would be to win 4x Championships whilst going 159-0 but having more victories via pin, other than that it is simply impossible. 2x NCAA Division I Champion Tommy Rowlands and 2x NCAA Division I Champion, Dan Hodge Trophy winner and Olympic wrestler Ben Askren (who also managed to accomplish a FILA NoGi World Gold Medal in submission grappling as well as ONE FC & Bellator Welterweight Championship Gold in his MMA career) were doing a list of their top 10 greatest college wrestlers of all time on their podcast the T-Row & Funky Show, they debated about some wrestlers such as Dan Gable, Kyle Dake and the Schultz Brothers but there was one name that wasn’t disputed, that was who was number one………
Cael was always a force to on the mats when wrestling, known for having a ferociously quick ankle pick which was confusing to comprehend. Swift in entry, monstrous on impacts, like the head movement of Muhammad Ali in Boxing or the timing of Anderson Silva in MMA, the ankle pick of Cael Sanderson has to be seen with as much credit, he was able to use it time and time again to defeat some of the highest skilled wrestlers in the United States at the time. All-time great Dan Gable held the collegiate record for most consecutive wins at the time with 98 before his shock upset loss to Larry Owings in the final match of his final season
Sanderson went onto win Olympic Gold in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens by defeating some stiff competition, however, none by way of the pin, the final total of combined points won to lost for him at the Games was 25-11. Going 3-1 in the final against South Korea’s Moon Eui-Jae the great college standout was able to fulfil his legacy of being one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the United States by being able to add an Olympic Gold Medal to his vast wrestling accomplishments that he managed to achieve at the college.
Since becoming head coach at Penn State University as the wrestling coach to say that he has been a dominant wrestling force in retirement would be an understatement. Producing 73 All-Americans as well as 25 NCAA Division I Champions with a coaching record of 184-24-2, since 2011-2019 only one year (2015) went by in which Sanderson was not able to coach the team to the 1st place team trophy at the NCAA Division I Championships.
Many people say once in a lifetime but what Cael Sanderson has managed to achieve in his wrestling career in terms of coaching and his own performances might make him a once every kind of athlete, truly the greatest in college wrestling history.
- 4x NCAA Division I Champion (159-0)
- 3x Dan Hodge Trophy Winner
- 4x NCAA’s Most Outstanding Wrestler
- University World Champion
- Olympic Gold Medal