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Doin’ Work: Sanderson Building Dynasty At Penn State

The Penn State wrestlers are coming off their second straight national championship under third-year head coach Cael Sanderson.

Sanderson is a born winner. I mean, the guy went 159-0 in his college career and went on to win a gold medal at the Olympics. There isn’t a more qualified coach in the country. Penn State hadn’t won a team title since 1953 before Sanderson’s squad captured it last season.

For Sanderson, taking the job at Penn State had to be an easy decision. Pennsylvania is hands down the best state for high-school wrestling. To give you an idea of just how strong high-school wrestling in the Keystone State is, each year, the Pennsylvania all-stars take on the USA all-stars in a tournament called The Dapper Dan Classic in Pittsburgh. The tournaments nickname is “The Rose Bowl of Wrestling” and the Commonwealth has won it two of the last three years. Where better to coach then smack dab in the middle of the nation’s hot bed for recruiting?

Sanderson, who coached for three years at Iowa State before coming to Happy Valley, has been on a recruiting tear since the minute he set foot on campus. His first year, he brought along Andrew Long and David Taylor who intended on wrestling for the Cyclones. Last season, he scored the nation’s top and fifth recruit; Morgan McIntosh and Nico Megaludis. Megaludis turned heads at the national tournament taking the silver medal as the No. 10 seed.

The 2012-2013 recruiting class is shaping up to be just as strong. The No. 3 recruit in the country and four-time PIAA state champion Jimmy Gulibon has been committed to Penn State since July. Only ten wrestlers in PIAA history have ever won four state titles; he’s in very elite company. Check out this video of him capturing his fourth PIAA title. Zach Beitz and Wes Phipps, both PIAA state champs from last season also headline the 2012-2013 recruiting class.

The squad returns eight of ten starters next season; five of which are All-Americans including previous national champions Taylor, Ed Ruth, and Quentin Wright. Also, Andrew Alton, who red-shirted this season after achieving All-American status last year, will return back to the starting line-up with his twin brother Dylan for next season. Andrew will likely slip into Molinaro’s spot at 149.

The only vacant weight class for Penn State was 285 with senior Cameron Wade graduating, but Sanderson took care of that rather quickly. Jimmy Lawson, a three-time New Jersey state wrestling champion, has been playing football for Monmouth for the past two seasons. Fortunately for us, Lawson has decided to transfer to Penn State in the fall to wrestle. He will have three years of eligibility – problem solved.

Sophomores Taylor and Ruth were two of the more, if not most, dominant wrestlers at the NCAA tournament. They both hardly broke a sweat on their way to national titles. Great news for the wrestling program; they have two more years left of man-handling opponents. If you missed the NCAA tournament last weekend, check David Taylor’s championship match here. Never before have I seen an opponent look so helpless in a championship bout.

The Nittany Lions won last weekend’s NCAA tournament by 25.5 points. Before the final round, they had the title clinched. It was one of the most dominant showings in the history of college wrestling by arguably the best Penn State wrestling team ever assembled. The scary thing for the rest of the country is – they will be better next season. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Penn State has a three-peat on lock.

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