Kevin Jackson isn’t where he is today if Cael Sanderson had continued his wrestling career.
Sanderson won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. Jackson was his coach and, if you recall the match with South Korea’s Moon Eui Jae, was the one hoisting Sanderson in the post-match celebration.
Jackson’s introductory press conference Friday ended with a question about Sanderson. He spoke of his admiration for Cael and his close relationship with he and his family over the last several years while Jackson was USA Wrestling’s national freestyle coach from 2001 to 2008.
That said, Jackson believes the “icon”, as he called Cael, hung up the singlet prematurely.
“I really feel he had four years left on the international circuit and he still would have been able to land this job,” Jackson said. “I really wish he would have continued competing…and accomplish some great things.”
Instead, Sanderson called it a career before age 25, and now is at Penn State as the highest-paid wrestling coach of all-time.
Jackson takes over what Cael left behind in Ames, and happily so. Funny how things work out.