Posts Tagged ‘Cael Sanderson’

So, who wrestles for ISU next year? Maybe freshmen

April 9, 2010

AMES — Missing half of its regular lineup from this past season, what in the world is Iowa State’s wrestling team going to look like next season?

It’ll be young, that’s for sure. How young?

“If a kid comes in and believes he can be a national champion and I believe he can be a national champion, we are going to wrestle him,” coach Kevin Jackson said. “If not, we’ll redshirt him. ”

Previous Cyclone coaches Bobby Douglas and Cael Sanderson were steadfast in redshirting ALL their incoming freshmen. Jackson may not have that luxury with his new class, which is nearly 10 deep right now as the spring signing period approaches.

Three newly-crowned Iowa high school state champions will join the team: Centerville’s Mike England, Kyven Gadson of Waterloo East and Urbandale’s Mike Moreno. Finalists Trevor Voelker of Adel-DeSoto-Minburn and West Des Moines Valley’s Brandon Jones also will be Cyclones.

Three others — Joey Cozart (Brandon, Fla.), Ryak Finch (Safford, Ariz.) and Luke Goettl (Clarksdale, Ariz.) — are among Jackson’s first full recruiting class.

Does the coach prefer they sit or throw ’em in there?

“I don’t know if I have any rules,” Jackson said. “This is only my second year.”

Ideally Jackson would like to get his newbies acclimated to the type of training and tactics he employs and allow their bodies to develop.

Results can happen quickly with the right person.

“We only had our hands on Andrew Long for seven months and he made great strides,” Jackson said of Long, who was an NCAA tournament finalist at 125 pounds in his first season on the mat, though he redshirted as a true freshman. “We have some other guys in the room who are equally as talented and can put themselves in that same situation.”

Sophomores Jerome Ward (184), Andrew Sorenson (157) and Dalton Jensen (141) will be expected to step it up, as will senior-to-be Jon Reader.

Jackson has high hopes for redshirts Trent Weatherman and Boaz Beard, too.

Year two of the Jackson era will be a rebuilding one.

“Next year I think we are going to do things a little smarter from a training aspect,” Reader said. “One thing I can promise you, we are going to work hard. We are going to be young but we are going to fight.”


Jackson’s judgment day almost here

December 2, 2009

Kevin Jackson can hardly wait.

Iowa State’s first-year coach has been talking about Dec. 6 since the day he was hired.

Iowa vs. Iowa State.

No. 1 vs. No. 2.  

Two-time defending NCAA champions vs. national championship hopefuls.

Sundays’ 6 p.m. dual meet at Hilton Coliseum is about as good as it gets in the sport of wrestling.

“We circled it. I know they circed it on their calendar,” Jackson said. “It’s a big part of the sport and one of the reasons I’m happy to be here.”

Jackson inherited a team capable of achieving some lofty goals.

The Cyclones boast a handful of All-Americans and a national champion in Jake Varner. One thing ISU’s talented senior class has yet to do is beat its in-state rival.

A victory Sunday would be the first step towards a big finish to their careers. 

“Our goal is to win a national championship and the national championship goes through Iowa City,” Jackson said. “We are going to see where we are at right away. I anticipate our guys performing at a high level.”

Jackson and his coaching staff — along with volunteer assistants and training partners Nate Gallick and Trent and Travis Paulson — have been pushing a more scoring-driven approach.

Varner has made a living off winning matches 3-1 or 4-2. Jackson wants to see the star 197-pounder light up the scoreboard.

That goes for everybody. He’d like it to start this weekend.

“We are getting after some points,” Jackson said. “We are trying to wrestle with a higher level of intensity and take advantage of all scoring opportunities.”

ISU athletics on the Up and Up

June 17, 2009

The offseason is the season for optimism.

No one has hit a ball into the net, thrown an interception, shot an air ball or been taken down. Records are unblemished. Hope is sold by coaches, players and administrators to every open ear.

If you are Iowa State, you’ve got to really like what lies ahead.

Potential for success is there for every major sport, which at ISU now includes volleyball coming off consecutive trips to the Sweet 16.

Athletic Director Jamie Pollard just had his contract extended through 2014, which is a good thing if you ask me.  Pollard has raised ISU’s profile with his fund-raising prowess and commitment to improving facilities, keeping pace with the rest of the Big 12 with the upgrades to Jack Trice Stadium and a new basketball practice facility set to open in a few months.

His most public hires (Gene Chizik, Greg McDermott) have been disappointing to many at this point in time, but appear to have a bright future.

Former Cyclone assistant and Ankeny native Paul Rhoads was the pick to replace the departed Chizik, also a good thing in my humble opinion. Rhoads is everything Chizik was not.

The Cyclones could win as many games this season as “Mean Gene” during his 5-19, tw0-year stint with the team.

The women’s basketball team came within one win of a Final Four. This year’s team will be young, but there’s no reason to think it won’t benefit from that experience over time. Volleyball is rolling and in-demand coach Christy Johnson has pledged her love for everything cardinal and gold and isn’t going anywhere.

Cael Sanderson’s departure was a PR nightmare, but had more to do with Sanderson feeling more professionally challenged at Penn State, where he could build up a middle-of-the-pack program, have a fabulous recruiting base, earn a higher paycheck, create memories somewhere other than Ames and wear blue for a change. He’s worn red for a long, long time.

Pollard tabbed another former Cyclone, Kevin Jackson, as his replacement. Jackson is as motivated and connected within wrestling circles as there is. He talks a great game, now we’ll have to see if he can coach one next season and beyond, once Sanderson’s recruits are gone.

It’s year four and McDermott finally can say he’s got a team that has a realistic chance of going places.

Craig Brackins, Lucca Staiger and Charles Boozer decided on staying, while newcomers Marquis Gilstrap, Chris Colvin and LaRon Dendy help form the coach’s most athletic recruiting class yet. Brackins wants to play in an NCAA Tournament before he jumps to the NBA, which almost surely will be next summer.

Returning players are up and down the roster. McDermott is not used to continuity. He’ll get used to it.

It’s been four long years since the Cyclones have played past mid-March. This is a team that has no reason not to reach the postseason, even if it is an NIT.

Things are looking up for Iowa State athletic teams.

The coaching changes look to be done with, now it’s time to do work between the lines.

Seventy-eight days until the football season kicks off.

Sanderson loving Penn State while laying low in Ames

June 3, 2009

AMES – Cael Sanderson is not done in Iowa just yet.

The former Iowa State wrestling coach has been in and out of Ames since shocking the wrestling world back in April with his decision to go to Penn State.

Sanderson faced a great deal of criticism from Cyclone fans and, to some, will long be an unpopular figure in the state because of his career choice. Vulgar and even threatening emails and letters were written.

One fan, Sanderson said, went as far as to come to his house, ring the doorbell and throw ISU clothing into the house and his wife, Kelly, and 2-year-old son Tate. They now don’t come to the front door when it is someone the family doesn’t know.

To avoid any kind of confrontation, the Sandersons keep a pretty low profile. Cael has shied away from making many public appearances and will continue to do so until ISU summer wrestling camps are over in late July.

“The only problem is that I like to eat (out) a lot,” he said. “I’m not in Ames a great deal. I just do what I have to do. I don’t go out.”

The backlash has died down considerably since Sanderson accepted the new job.

Time has healed those wounds, even more so after Kevin Jackson was hired to take over ISU’s program. Still, the negative reaction has been bothersome to Sanderson and his family, though not a surprise.

“That’s expected. Kelly knew that when we were making the decision,” he said. “I expected people to be upset. I understand. It was emotional for me at first. People care about wrestling and that’s why Iowa State has been so good since the beginning.

“The problem initially was things that were said and rumors about why I was leaving. They just weren’t true.”

Attending last weekend’s World Team Trials in Council Bluffs, Sanderson donned a blue Penn State cap.

Despite living in a hotel room when he’s in State College, Sanderson has enjoyed this busy time organizing the program, securing recruits and getting his current group of wrestlers to buy into what he’s selling.

“Change is exciting,” he said. “It’s been overwhelming a little bit with some of those things. I like the area a lot… It’s going well. People know what’s going on there. They love wrestling.”

It’s hard to say how good a team he’ll field this first year.

The Nittany Lions have a handful of All-Americans returning and will add Cyler Sanderson, who was released from his scholarship at ISU and is planning a transfer to Penn State.                                 

No team members have asked to transfer, Sanderson said. PSU finished 17th at March’s NCAA Championships.

“There’s a lot of potential there,” Sanderson said. “But just like anything, you have to get in there and work hard. They’ve got to feel comfortable with me. I don’t want anyone there who doesn’t want to be there, but those kids all love Penn State.”

Former ISU teammate Joe Heskett will be competing against Sanderson for Big Ten Conference supremacy.

Heskett, who was one of the leading candidates to succeed Sanderson, is an assistant coach at Ohio State. Heskett said he was surprised, but not shocked with his good friend’s decision to leave Ames.

“I think it is good for the sport of wrestling,” Heskett said. “I love the competition. The more the merrier. Having him in the Big Ten is great.” 

How about getting Iowa State on the schedule for a dual meet? In Ames?

“I’m not opposed to it,” Sanderson said. “I don’t have anything to prove or wouldn’t be trying to come in there and do anything.”

Coach Jackson hitting the ground running at ISU

June 1, 2009
Jackson hasnt had much time to rest since this day

Jackson hasn't had much time to rest since this day

AMES — The honeymoon has been a short one for Kevin Jackson.

In his first month on the job, Iowa State’s new wrestling coach has had to reel in recruits, maintain his current roster, find coaches to fill out his staff and maintain the day-to-day operation of the program.

While working on the present with a team that’s got real national championship dreams, Jackson is paying mind to the future and how to set the program up for continued success.

With the departures of Cyler Sanderson and Tyler Clark, the Cyclones return eight NCAA qualifiers next year. Six are seniors. Another is a junior.

“We have some immediate needs,” Jackson said. “We’ll have to replace some guys and fill some holes. So, we are out there getting our hands on a couple of kids. What is constant in your mind is, where is that best kid and how are you going to get after him.”

Heavyweight, 197, 174, 149, 141, 133 – each of the weight classes will have a newcomer in Jackson’s second season.

He likes the young wrestlers he’s inherited from previous coach Cael Sanderson.

ISU needs a lot more like them.

“We’ve contacted quite a few athletes and we’ve had them contacting us,” Jackson said. “With my relationship with a lot of coaches around the country… that’s one thing that’s a positive for me with the unlimited connections.

“They know what I’m looking for. I’m looking for the real deal, a world-class capable wrestler.”

Sanderson, like Bobby Douglas before him, almost always redshirted his true freshmen. Jackson won’t hold anybody back if they can help right away.

“If he can wrestle, I’m going to wrestle him,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s credentials as a wrestler (Olympic, World and NCAA champion) and his position with USA Wrestling give him great name recognition. Jackson was head coach of the national freestyle team from 2001-08 and remains close to the amateur scene.

There should be no limits to where he can recruit, he said.

“I think I can pull them from anywhere,” Jackson said. “We are going to have a west coast and east coast connection. I can go into a young man’s home and tell them I not only have a four-year plan for them, but an eight-year plan.”

At last weekend’s World Team Trials in Council Bluffs, Jackson said he should this week be making official the coaches he’s chosen for his staff.

They figure to be heavily involved on the world scene and will be able to provide ISU wrestlers with high-level training partners to advance their skills.

Since being hired, Jackson has continually talked of the importance of evening the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry.

The Hawkeyes have won back-to-back NCAA team titles and captured the series’ last three dual meets.  They hold an edge in recruiting, particularly inside the state’s borders.

“My home base is their home base. We have to break into that,” Jackson said.

“Kids are going to follow the champs. They are going to wear the championship gear. The Hawkeyes have cornered the market a little bit on that deal. We’ve been in the hunt but we haven’t overtaken them. The key is for us to win.”

Former ISU national champion and nine-year assistant coach Chris Bono was one of a handful of candidates for the job.

He’s good friends with Jackson and believes ISU made a fine choice in replacing Sanderson.

“He’s going to be great,” Bono said. “He was basically coached my international career. He got me to do things that I never thought I could do. He’s going to transition fine to the college game and put Iowa State back on the map.”

Jackson: Two of the four recruits sticking with ISU

May 21, 2009

Iowa State will hold onto two of its four incoming wrestling recruits, new Coach Kevin Jackson said Thursday.

Trent Weatherman, a two-time 152-pound state champion from nearby Ballard High School, and Boaz Beard, who owns four state titles and a 110-2 career record at Wichita (Kan.)-Goddard H.S., have re-affirmed their commitments to the program after former coach Cael Sanderson left for Penn State last month.

Recruits David Taylor of St. Paris, Ohio, and Luke Macchiaroli from Tempe, Ariz., have asked for and were granted releases from their letters of intent.

Weatherman is one of the state’s top recruits. His high school is 15 minutes south of Ames.   

 “He is locked in now,” Jackson said. “That’s a huge keep for us. He’s a hometown product from right down the road and one of our best kids in the state. I need to keep that kid.”

Beard and his parents met with Jackson Monday on campus. A few hours later, Beard said he wasn’t going anywhere else. 

“That makes me feel good, cause I’m just meeting the kid,” he said. “But in three hours I think I can express the mission of what we are all about. His parents loved Cael. They still do.”

As for Jackson’s existing roster, he said there are some considering a transfer, though he is choosing not release them to Iowa or Penn State. He would not say the wrestler’s names.

“There may be one guy like that who is on the fence, maybe two,” Jackson said.

Add senior 157-pounder Cyler Sanderson to that list, too. Sanderson, the younger brother of Cael, has not yet told Jackson whether he’ll be staying with the program.  

The rest of ISU’s core group of Jake Varner, David Zabriskie, Nick Gallick, Nick Fanthorpe, Jon Reader and Mitch Mueller aren’t going anywhere.  Rumors continue to linger that Varner is thinking of following Cael Sanderson out East.

Jackson said he hasn’t gotten that impression from Varner. The 197-pound national champion does have a very close relationship with Sanderson.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Cael is working on him,” Jackson said. “Who wouldn’t want a Jake Varner on your team. That would hurt us real badly if he left, but I don’t believe he’s going to leave. He told me he was all-in.”

Wrestling news: Gallick returning to ISU

May 13, 2009

Nate Gallick will once again call Iowa State’s wrestling room his home.

The former Cyclone national champion and three-time All-American has accepted an offer to be a volunteer assistant for new ISU head coach Kevin Jackson.

Gallick, previously an assistant at Tennessee-Chattanooga alongside another former Cyclone, Chris Bono, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press he is coming back to Ames to continue chasing his dream of  world and Olympic titles. During his introductory press conference back on May 1, Jackson talked about creating an Olympic training site at ISU that will be an important aspect of the program’s continued growth.

Jackson was the national freestyle head coach at USA Wrestling from 2001 to 2008, coaching a pair of Olympic teams.

Gallick is in his mid-20s and in the prime of his international career. He was a full-time assistant with the Mocs, but spent a lot of time away from the team tending to his own career goals.

At ISU he’ll get the training he desires while also working out with ISU’s current group of wrestlers, which includes his brother, Nick, who’ll be a senior.

“In order to reach my goals I need to put myself in the best position with coaches and partners at the freestyle level,” Gallick told the Free Press. “I guess I’m being a little selfish. I only have a few competitive years left, and I need to focus in an environment for freestyle (wrestling) with post-college training partners and a full-time freestyle coach.”

Bono confirmed the move via Twitter on Monday.

Neither Jackson nor ISU officials have made any staffing news official.

Jackson still is tending to duties as coach of the Sunkist Kids wrestling club in Arizona and has not been in Ames full time since taking over for Cael Sanderson. 

Reports have two of the four incoming recruits signed by Sanderson being granted releases from their scholarships, including Ohio prep David Taylor, the star of the class. Again, nothing official has come out from Jackson or the school.

Report: Cyclones lose their top wrestling recruit

May 6, 2009

Iowa State has lost its most prized incoming wrestling recruit, according to an Ohio prep sports Web site.

David Taylor, a four-time state champion at St. Paris Graham High School and winner of the Dave Schultz National Excellence Award, said he was given a release Tuesday from his national letter of intent and plans to re-open his recruitment.

ISU officials could not confirm Taylor’s release or the status of the school’s other three incoming wrestlers who signed letters of intent last fall.

Of course, Cael Sanderson was the coach at that time. Sanderson now is leading Penn State’s program, and the smart money says that is where Taylor ends up. 

New ISU coach Kevin Jackson said during his introductory press conference last week that one of his top priorities was to solidify the roster.

Was he able to do it?

Most of the current Cyclone wrestlers are staying put. Who follows Cael  out the door and who decides Jackson has all the credentials they want in a coach?

Stay tuned.

Why KJ is now Coach Jackson

May 2, 2009

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.

Arlen finds a home, KXnO regroups, Colvin sings

April 22, 2009

Former Iowa State women’s basketball player Ashley Arlen will continue her basketball career at Division II Wayne State, located in Wayne, Neb.

Really? A step down in competition?

So the plot thickens with Arlen, who would likely have started considering those ahead of her in the rotation were all senior.

Arlen, who averaged 3.5 points and 3.1 rebounds last season as a true freshman, will be able to play right away at Wayne State and have three seasons of eligibility. Here are comments from WSU coach Chris Kielsmeier:

“Ashley has a rare combination of being able to score in the paint and on the perimeter. She is a very physical player that provides our program with much-needed size. Ashley…will have an immediate impact on our program.”


Des Moines sports talk radio station KXnO has undergone a massive restructuring of its lineup since firing two of its four local hosts in the wake of a profanity-laced exchange that mistakenly made it on-air during a commercial break.

Beneficiaries of this are new afternoon (2 to 4 p.m.) hosts Keith Murphy and Andy Fales, who form the entertaining pair that carry WHO-TV’s Sunday night show “SoundOff.”

Murphy and Fales picked apart Cael Sanderson’s stunning decision to take the Penn State wrestling job and on Tuesday poured over Iowa State’s run of horrible luck and embarrassing incidents over the last decade — coming up with a David Letterman-style Top 10.

Check it out:


More on Cael, or at least who may succeed him. 

Paul Clark of is reporting the Boise State’s Greg Randall is a serious candidate to replace Cael Sanderson as Iowa State’s wrestling coach.

Randall is one of the great high school wrestlers in state history, a three-time all-American at Iowa and the leader of a surging program in Boise, Idaho.  He’s also a relatively lackluster name compared to some of those on fans’ wish lists. Of course, AD Jamie Pollard isn’t one who allows outside pressures to affect who he hires.


Watching my Cubs beat up on Cincinnati Tuesday night, I stumbled upon ISU basketball recruit Chris Colvin and some teammates (including some kid with the last name Jordan, whoever that is) singing the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field.

Colvin’s Whitney Young team won Illinois’ Class 4A state boys basketball championship last month.

Let’s hope he plays basketball better than he carries a tune.