Sanderson receives wrestling coaching honor

Penn?State’s Cael Sanderson was named 2012 Freestyle Coach of the Year by USA Wrestling on Thursday.

It is the first time that Sanderson has received this prestigious award.

This award is named after the late wrestling legend Terry McCann, a 1960 Olympic champion wrestler. McCann was a long-time coach with the successful Mayor Daley Youth Foundation club, which won numerous national titles in freestyle and Greco-Roman and produced champion athletes for the United States. McCann also served as USA Wrestling President and a FILA Bureau member.

Sanderson is coach of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, which is located at Penn State University and is one of the most successful Regional Training Centers in the nation. The Nittany Lion WC is the full-time training location for a number of top Senior-level men’s freestyle wrestlers, and also supports a strong age-group international program.

Sanderson was club and personal coach to Jake Varner, who make the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. and won the Olympic gold medal in his weight class. Varner first competed for Sanderson when he was an undergrad at Iowa State.

When Sanderson accepted the head coaching job at Penn State, Varner completed his college career at Iowa State, where he was a two-time NCAA champion.

After college, Varner moved to State College, joined the Nittany Lion WC, and trained under Sanderson. Varner was also a 2011 World bronze medalist under Sanderson’s tutelage.

In addition to Varner, two members of the Nittany Lion WC earned spots in the 2012 Olympic Games in London Games for other nations after training with Sanderson. Jaime Espinal of Puerto Rico won an Olympic silver medal at 84 kg/185 lbs. Franklin Gomez of Puerto Rico , a 2011 World silver medalist, also competed in the London Olympics.

Nittany Lion WC wrestler Les Sigman, a 2010 World Team member, placed second at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Seven members of the Nittany Lion WC qualified to compete at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City, Iowa.

Two athletes from Puerto Rico, who train with the Nittany Lion WC, competed in the 2012 Olympic Games, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Jaime Espinal at 84 kg/185 lbs. and 2011 World silver medalist Franklin Gomez at 60 kg/132 lbs.

Last season under Sanderson, the Nittany Lions won their second straight NCAA title, led by three NCAA champions, David Taylor, Frank Molinaro and Ed Ruth.

In 2012, the Nittany Lions had six All-Americans. In his four years with the Nittany Lions, including the 2013 season, his team has won three NCAA titles and placed ninth in his first season.