Cael Sanderson Places Fifth
It had been over eight years since Penn State head wrestling coach Cael Sanderson last lost an official match. That streak was broken when the four time undefeated NCAA national champion and 2004 Olympic Gold medalist placed fifth in the World Wrestling Championship in Istanbul, Turkey this weekend, losing two of his six matches.
Sanderson’s return to the mat wasn’t exactly his choice. Early in the 2010 season, the coach promised his wrestlers if they won the Big Ten Championship he would compete in the U.S. Northeast Regional Trials held in March. When the team won the National Championship, Sanderson held up his end of the bargain and competed in the trials. Sanderson, who hadn’t wrestled on the national stage in six years, easily took first place at the event.
Sanderson once again returned to wrestle in the World Wrestling Championship tournament competing the 185-pound weight class. After winning his first match, Sanderson suffered a defeat in the second match to eventual champion Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan. While he went on to win the next three matches to keep bronze medal hopes alive, Sanderson would be shutout in his final match to finish in fifth place.
A fifth place finish in the World Championship qualifies Sanderson for the 2012 Olympics in London, but it is no doubt a disappointment for whom many consider the greatest wrestler of all time. Sanderson will return to Penn State this week to help prepare the defending national champions for the season opener in November.