Cael Sanderson's Key for On-Mat Success

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Cael Sanderson owns the most impressive collegiate career record of all time, in any sport. During his four years at Iowa State, he won every single match he wrestled, racking up a 159-0 record. He collected both the National Championship title and the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler Award four straight times, and he won three Dan Hodge Trophies as the most outstanding wrestler in the nation. After graduation, Cael took on the rest of the world at 84 kilograms, keeping his winning streak alive. Again in dominating fashion, he took home the freestyle Gold Medal in the 2004 Olympics.

One key element of Cael's ability to make winning matches seem so easy was his family's propensity for making practices so hard.

Cael was the third of four Sanderson sons to win a Utah State Championship, so he didn't have to leave home to find serious competition. "I was lucky to have my older brothers beat up on me at wrestling practice every day," Cael says. "I was a little bigger for my age than they were, which meant we were close to the same size, making us perfect workout partners. The intensity during our practices was higher than that of actual competition. I had to learn to compete at a higher level much faster to minimize the thrashings my brothers were so eager to give me."

After Cody, Cole, Cyler and Cael left those four-way daily grinders behind to take on some non-kin matches, the brotherly boost continued. "Once we left the practice room, we became each other's biggest supporters," Cael says. "I think we worried more about each other's matches then we did our own. We really pushed and supported each other to be the very best we could be."

The Sanderson family tradition has come full circle. As the recently appointed head coach at Iowa State, Cael has taken on the responsibility for getting his younger brother Cyler ready for action with practices that make real competition seem like a day off.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: WRESTLING | CHAMPIONSHIP | WRESTLER