No Pressure? Cyler the next great Sanderson?

Iowa State wrestling and the name Sanderson seem to roll off the tongue as if they were paired together since the Cyclone wrestling program began. Cyler Sanderson, the youngest of the four Sanderson brothers, will begin his freshman wrestling campaign at Iowa State this fall. Expectations are big. And they should be.

Cyler finished his high school career in 2005 by capturing his fourth Utah state wrestling title.  He won over 95% of his high school matches on his way to finishing 163-8.  Since the day he stepped foot on campus, he has been expected to be a four-year starter for the Cyclones.  With Cyler primed to wrestle at 149-pounds this fall, Cyclones fans should get an early look at what all the hype is about.


Cyler is the last of the Sanderson brothers and that could account for some of the lofty expectations for the 19 year old.  The oldest Sanderson, Cody, was a four-time Utah state champion, a 1995 second team ASICS All-American and a two-time NCAA runner-up at 133-pounds.  Cole, a 1996 first team ASICS All-American, was rated the nation's top 140-pounder and finished his high school career with three Utah State titles.  Cael, considered by many to be the greatest collegiate wrestler of all-time, won four Utah state titles, was a first team ASICS All-American, was undefeated on his way to four NCAA titles and won a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics.


Cyler was the third Sanderson to be named a first team ASICS All-American – an honor only 14 high schoolers can claim each year.  How hard is it to be a first team ASICS All-American?  Simply put, 2005 recruits Brent Metcalf (Virginia Tech, top 5), Jake Varner (Iowa State, top 10), Mitch Mueller (Iowa State, top 10), Max Askren (Missouri, top 15), Jared Rosholt (Oklahoma State, top 20) and Nick Gallick (Iowa State, top 20) were all left off the list.


Over the past two seasons, the Cyclones have struggled at 149-pounds.  Iowa natives Jason Knipp and Aron Scott have shared duties with mixed results.  Scott, a bruiser like previous 149-pounder Trent Paulson, lacked the explosiveness and technique to defeat quality opponents.  Knipp, a more slender and quicker wrestler, has been known for valiant efforts against tough opponents but also for coming up short.  In a 2006 lineup that should be laced with freshman, Cyler will look to end all woes in the middle of the lineup.


 Coached by his father Steve in high school, Cyler will now look to two of his brothers, Cody and Cael, for his wrestling guidance.  Cody, formerly the head coach at Utah Valley State, became an assistant at Iowa State after Cael was named the successor of legendary head coach Bobby Douglas.  Recent coaching hire Dylan Long, the 2003 141-pound NCAA runner-up, should help groom Cyler and the lighter middleweights and help them contribute early in their careers.


Though no one truly expects Cyler's career to be as flawless as Cael's, he will be expected to win and he will be expected to score points for the Cyclones.  Cyler's immediate success could directly relate to the way he reacts to the pressure of being Cael's brother.  Cyler will have a choice to either strive to be like Cael or to lower his effort to eliminate high expectations from the beginning.  Cyler has been said by some to be the closest to Cael's talent and he should start off his career strong with a dual meet against Buena Vista.  Follow that up with three tournaments before facing powerhouses Arizona State and Iowa and you have the makings of a confidence boost.  Sometimes as important as fitness and physical abilities, confidence and mental toughness could play a large role in his success.


On a team split with freshman and seniors, look for Cyler Sanderson to sneak his way up the rankings and become an immediate leader for the Cyclones.  The Cyclones should win most matches at 157, 165 and 184-pounds this year and if Cyler starts strong, he could be well on his way to his own page in the Cyclone history books.

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