Posts tagged ‘Wheaties’

A Rousing Welcome

3011022He didn’t utter the words until near the end of Monday’s introductory press conference — which was held in Rec Hall with some cheerleaders, the Nittany Lion mascot and the entire team on the floor. But Penn State’s new wrestling coach, Cael Sanderson, finally did state his objective loud and clear: “My goal is to compete for the national championship every year. It’s real simple.”

The crowd — and, yes, there were several hundred people in the stands — cheered.

Because that’s exactly what Sanderson did as a wrestler. He never lost a match in four seasons at Iowa State, posting a 159-0 record and winning four NCAA titles. (His first, by the way, came at the Bryce Jordan Center in 1999, when he became the first freshman to win the Outstanding Wrestler award. Athletic director Tim Curley said at the press conference, “We take great credit for him getting off to a good start.”)

As Sanderson spoke Monday, directly above him, high in the Rec Hall rafters, hung the banner from Penn State’s only NCAA team wrestling title, in 1953.

Given the abundance of high school wrestling talent in Pennsylvania, many wrestling fans have puzzled over why the Nittany Lions — who have had 18 wrestlers win 21 individual NCAA titles — haven’t regularly contended for the team title. Sanderson aims to change that. In his three seasons as coach at Iowa State, his alma mater, all 30 wrestlers qualified for nationals.

Sanderson charmed the audience with humor. As part of his opening statement, he noted, “I can’t stop thinking about this, but we need to get the mascot on a weight program.” Asked about Internet rumors of an astronomically high salary, he responded, “I’ve heard that as well, and I’ve been looking forward to talking to Mr. Curley about that.” Pressed for some non-wrestling attributes that attracted him to Penn State, he mentioned the “great ice cream.”

And, of course, he took note of the crowd. There aren’t too many places on the planet that can draw fans for the introduction of a wrestling coach. “If we can get this many people out for a press conference,” he said, “I can’t wait to see what we’ll do for a dual meet.”

Also noteworthy: In addition to the NCAA titles, the Wheaties box and the Olympic gold medal, Curley mentioned another line on Sanderson’s resume — being named by Sports Illustrated for Women as one of the 50 sexiest athletes of 2001.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

April 20, 2009 at 7:06 pm 2 comments

A Majorly Impressive Hire

2983935It didn’t take Penn State long—just under two weeks—to find a new wrestling coach to replace Troy Sunderland ’93. And the pick is causing some jaws to drop. The University announced yesterday that it had lured Cael Sanderson, one of the legends of the sport, away from Iowa State to be the Lions’ new coach.

Sanderson never lost a match as a wrestler at Iowa State (his career record was 159-0)—a feat that got his picture on a Wheaties box. wheatiesHe also won four NCAA titles, then won a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics. Sanderson, who is 29, has been coaching at his alma mater the past three years, and it’s safe to say that not too many people pictured him leaving for Penn State. But here he comes. He’ll be introduced at a news conference Monday afternoon.

By all accounts, the hire signals that Penn State is committed to winning a national championship in wrestling—something that hasn’t happened since 1953.

You can read stories about the announcement at USA Today and the Centre Daily Times. The CDT also has a piece on how members of the current team reacted to the news that one of their heroes is about to become their coach.

Tina Hay, editor

April 18, 2009 at 9:38 am Leave a comment

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