CN Wrestling Report - The State of a Program

After the recent change in command atop the Iowa State wrestling program, most Cyclone wrestling fans are excited about the future of the program. With former head coach Bobby Douglas assuming a front office job and an Olympic gold medalist taking over the program, fans can rest assured the wrestling room will remain active and the team will get as much, if not more attention than before.

After 14 seasons at the helm, Douglas will now make way for the most accomplished wrestler in Iowa State history.  Newly appointed head coach Cael Sanderson has as many accolades as anyone else in wrestling.  The only four-time undefeated collegiate national champion stayed close to the Cyclone program as he continued to train at Iowa State while competing internationally in freestyle.  Sanderson retired from competition after winning a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games and dedicated his time to coaching along side Douglas.


Sanderson, who built plenty of relationships and earned his fair share of respect while competing internationally, recently appointed former Minnesota great Tim Hartung as his assistant coach.  Hartung, a two-time NCAA champ for the Gophers, finished his career with 58 consecutive victories – a Minnesota record that still stands.  Hartung coached last season at Iowa and accepted the assistant job at Iowa State after Iowa coach Jim Zalesky was fired and Hartung's name was not in the mix as a replacement.


Though losing Sanderson to another school (i.e. Dan Gable to Iowa) was never an option, only time will tell whether appointing him head coach this early in his career was the right choice.  All of Cyclone Country knew Sanderson would be Douglas's successor but few thought it would be this soon.  Former Iowa State assistant Chris Bono, a four-time All-American and two-time runner up, knew the chances of himself becoming the head coach at Iowa State were slim.  Bono left Iowa State after nine seasons to assume the head coaching position at Tennessee-Chattanooga.  Bono was thought be Douglas's replacement until Sanderson prematurely retired from competition and joined the Cyclone staff.  Behind the scenes, Bono ran the Cyclone wrestling program and was a very vocal leader in the wrestling room.


Sanderson's presence and legacy will continue to follow him and his age should allow him to coach for decades.  However, the same was said about his international wrestling career and his early retirement left the wrestling world astonished.  His age may also deter some current and former wrestlers from coaching in the program – knowing they will never have the opportunity to become the head coach.


Sanderson was virtually unbeatable as a wrestler and will now have the opportunity to build a legacy as a coach.  He has the supporting staff and the wrestling talent to start his coaching career with a bang.  Sanderson and the Cyclones will sorely miss Nate Gallick's dominance next year and they will search from the lightest to the heaviest to find another top wrestler.  New faces Nick Franthorpe, Mitch Mueller, Nick Gallick, Cyler Sanderson, Jake Varner, and Dave Zabriskie should all inherit a spot in the starting rotation.  Returning starters Trent and Travis Paulson, David Bertolino, and Kurt Backes will anchor a lineup laden with high school All-Americans and top recruits.  If Sanderson wrestles true freshman, a feat Bobby Douglas rarely pulled, Jonathan Reader could fit nicely at 157-pounds.  He wrestled Trent Paulson unattached at the Harold Nichols Open last year and barely lost.  Reader wrestling at 157-pounds would bump Trent to 165 and Travis to 174.


All in all, we'll have to wait seven months to see how this team shapes up, and more importantly, how Sanderson prepares them.

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