Cael Sanderson named U.S. Men's Freestyle World Team coach

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Tom Brands and Cael Sanderson have been named as volunteer U.S. Freestyle World Team Coaches for the 2014 World Wrestling Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The men's wrestling competition is September 8-9.

They will work with National Freestyle Coach Bruce Burnett, Assistant National Freestyle Coaches Bill Zadick and Brandon Slay, and a staff including personal coaches in the preparation of the team and coaching of the athletes at the World Championships.

Both Brands and Sanderson are past Olympic freestyle champions, with Brands winning his gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga. and Sanderson winning his gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Both are also top Div. I college head coaches, Brands at the Univ. of Iowa and Sanderson at Penn State. They are also both Distinguished Members of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. As college athletes, Sanderson won four NCAA titles for Iowa State while Brands won three NCAA titles for the Univ. of Iowa.

Brands was a 2004 U.S. Olympic Team coach, helping lead the USA to a three-medal performance in Athens, Greece. He was Assistant Coach of the 2003 U.S. Freestyle World Team, which placed second in the World Championships in New York City, led by two silver medalists. He is also a coach with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, and is personal coach for two 2014 U.S. World Team members, Tony Ramos and Brent Metcalf.

"I think everybody is after the same thing. 2014 is the most important competition you have right now. The commitment is they want to win in 2014. We have guys who are hungry. There are guys who are first-time team members and want to be World champions. We have Burroughs, but Burroughs needs help. We won't win the Worlds as a team with just him. Performance is key from each of the team members. Our young attitude is good. They know the important year is the one upon us. They are not looking down the road. It is now, not 2016. I like that," said Brands.

Brands is focused on helping the U.S. team have a peak performance in Tashkent.

"In my role, you stay out of the way, while providing more support for Ramos and Metcalf. My job is to get our guys ready from our stable, both Metcalf and Ramos, and to assist the national coaching staff with whatever else they need. We have to make sure they all are getting what they need and feel good about it. They all come from very good programs," he said.

Sanderson has served on the coaching staff of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and the 2013 U.S. World Team. Sanderson is a personal coach for 2012 Olympic champion Jake Varner, who was a 2011 World bronze medalist and a member of the 2014 U.S. World Team. He also coaches 2014 World Team member Ed Ruth. He is a club coach with the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club.

"I am there as support staff to help Bruce Burnett, Brandon Slay and Bill Zadick in any way that I can. It helps to have a few of our guys on the team with Varner and Ruth. We have a very good team which is talented and has the potential to win a bunch of medals. It is an exciting team, with some veterans and some young guys who are new faces. It is a good mix of talent and attitude, everything that USA Wrestling is all about," said Sanderson.

Cael Sanderson BIOGRAPHY

Sanderson served as a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic coaching staff, and was the personal coach for 2012 Olympic champion Jake Varner. The 2012 Olympic Team featured three medalists, including two champions.

Sanderson is coach of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, one of the most successful Regional Training Centers in the nation. He is personal coach for two members for two members of the 2014 U.S. World Team, Ed Ruth and Jake Varner.

Two members of the Nittany Lion WC also earned spots in the 2012 Olympic Games in London Games competing for Puerto Rico, silver medalist Jaime Espinal, along with Franklin Gomez, a 2011 World silver medalist.

Sanderson serves as the head wrestling coach of Penn State. The Nittany Lions have won four straight NCAA Div. I national titles under Sanderson (2011-2014) and has added four Big Ten team titles. Among his star athletes in recent seasons has been Penn State's first three-time NCAA champion Ed Ruth, as well as a two-time Hodge Trophy winner, David Taylor.

At Penn State, Sanderson has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year two times and NWCA National Coach of the Year two times.

Sanderson's coaching career began at his alma mater at Iowa State, where he was on the coaching staff in a variety of positions from 2003-06. In 2007, he was named head coach for Iowa State, and led the Cyclones for three seasons, winning conference titles each year and placing second, third and fifth in the NCAA Championships team standings. At Iowa State, he was named Big 12 Coach of the Year, National Rookie Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year.

Sanderson won a Olympic gold medal at 84 kg/185 lbs. in men's freestyle at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. He also won a silver medal at the 2003 World Championships held in New York, NY. Sanderson was also a 2000 University World champion. He qualified for the 2001 and 2002 U.S. World Teams, but was unable to compete in either event. He made a comeback in 2011, qualified for the U.S. World Team and placed fifth at the World Championships.

He is considered one of the greatest college athletes of any sport of all time, winning four NCAA titles for Iowa State and finishing his career with a 159-0 record. Sanderson won three Dan Hodge Trophies as the nation's top college wrestler and was a four-time NCAA Most Outstanding Wrestler. His achievement was named the No. 2 college sports achievement of all time by Sports Illustrated, he received an ESPY award and he was featured on a Wheaties box.

Originally from Heber City, Utah, Sanderson was a four-time state champion, Junior National champion and Cadet World bronze medalist.


Brands served as a 2004 Olympic Team coach, helping lead the USA team to a three-medal performance, which included gold medalist Cael Sanderson and silver medalists Stephen Abas and Jamill Kelly.

Brands served as the Assistant Coach of the 2003 U.S. Freestyle World Team, which placed a strong second at the World Championships in New York City, led by two silver medalists. He was also the Assistant Coach of the 2002 U.S. Freestyle World Team that was scheduled to compete in Tehran, Iran, but did not compete due to a threat to the team's safety. Brands was a member of the U.S. coaching staff at the 2001 World Championships, and has coached a number of other U.S. teams in international competition.

He was named 2002 Freestyle Coach of the Year by USA Wrestling. He serves as a coach for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, and two of the athletes that he is a personal coach will compete on the 2014 U.S. World Team, Tony Ramos and Brent Metcalf.

Brands works as the head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa. Brands has led the Hawkeyes to three NCAA and Big Ten team titles. Brands was named 2008 NWCA Coach of the Year after leading the Hawkeyes to their first NCAA team title since 2000 and their first Big Ten team title since 2004. He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2008, 2009 and 2010, becoming the first coach in conference history to earn the honor in three consecutive seasons.

Brands also served as head coach at Virginia Tech University for two seasons (2005-06), recording a 17-20 dual mark. Brands led the team to the 2005 regular season Atlantic Coast Conference title. He was an assistant coach at Iowa for 12 seasons (1993-2004) and was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year in 2000.

Brands was one of the greatest U.S. freestyle wrestlers of all time, claiming a gold medal at 136.5 pounds at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga. He also won a World gold medal at the 1993 World Championships in Toronto, Canada. Between 1993-96, Brands was the top U.S. wrestler at his weight class and represented the United States in numerous major international events. He won two World Cup gold medals (1994 and 1995) and was the 1995 Pan American Games champion. He also claimed four U.S. Nationals titles (1993-96) and made four straight U.S. World or Olympic teams (1993-96).

Along with brother, Terry, he was named 1993 USA Wrestling Athlete of the Year, the 1993 John Smith Outstanding Freestyle Wrestler, and 1993 Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year. He has been inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member.

He was a three-time NCAA Div. I champion at the Univ. of Iowa (1990-92) a four-time All-American and three-time Big Ten champion with a career mark of 158-7-2.   

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