Cael wins John Smith Award

Iowa State assistant coach Cael Sanderson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) has been named the winner of the 2004 John Smith Award as the Freestyle Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling. It is the second straight year that Sanderson has won this prestigious award (2003, 2004).

Sanderson won the Olympic gold medal in men's freestyle wrestling at 84 kg/185 lbs. at the Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. He was the only U.S. wrestler to win a gold medal during the Athens Games, one of six U.S. medallists in all three styles.

Sanderson won five matches on the way to the title, and he defeated 2000 Olympic silver medalist Moon Eui Jae of Korea in the gold-medal finals, 3-1.

His semifinal victory was a thrilling 3-2 decision over 1999 World champion and 2000 Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero of Cuba. Sanderson scored two second-period takedowns for the margin of victory. He had lost his previous two meetings with Romero prior to the Olympic showdown.

In the quarterfinals, in an exciting match, Sanderson stopped 2002 World bronze medalist Majid Khodaei of Iran, 6-5. Sanderson fell behind. and battled back with some outstanding wrestling late in the match. He also captured two matches in his pool competition, beating Magomed Kurguliev of Kazakhstan, 4-2 and Siarhei Borchanka of Belarus, 9-1.

Sanderson earned his spot on the U.S. Olympic Team, winning the title at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Wrestling in Indianapolis, Ind in May. He defeated Lee Fullhart (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) in the championship series, two matches to one.

Sanderson won both of his matches at the Titan Games, held in Atlanta, Ga in June. He also won a gold medal at the Manitoba Open in Canada, and a silver medal at the Ivan Yarygin International in Russia. At the Yarygin Tournament, he defeated 2000 Olympic champion Adam Saitiev. He also won a silver medal at the U.S. National Championships in Las Vegas, Nev.

Sanderson was named as a finalist for the James E. Sullivan Award this year, which recognizes the nation's top amateur athlete. It is the second time in his career that he has been a finalist for the award.

In 2002, Sanderson achieved national attention in college at Iowa State, when he became the first athlete to go undefeated and won four NCAA Div. I wrestling titles. Sports Illustrated said it was the No. 2 achievement in college sports history. He is originally from Heber City, Utah.

USA Wrestling will be announcing major award winners each day this week on

2004 - Cael Sanderson, Ames, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2003 - Cael Sanderson, Ames, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2002 - Joe Williams, Iowa City, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2001 - Joe Williams, Iowa City, Iowa, Sunkist Kids
2000 - Brandon Slay, Amarillo, Texas, Dave Schultz WC
1999 - Stephen Neal, Bakerfield, Calif., Dave Schultz WC
1998 - Sammie Henson, Norman, Okla., Sunkist Kids
1997 - Les Gutches, Corvallis, Ore., Sunkist Kids
1996 - Kendall Cross, Raleigh, N.C., Sunkist Kids
1995 - Kevin Jackson, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1994 - Melvin Douglas, Mesa, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1993 - Terry and Tom Brands, Iowa City, Iowa, Team Foxcatcher
1992 - John Smith, Stillwater, Okla., Sunkist Kids

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