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Ex ISU Coach Jim Gibbons To Run for Congress

November 23rd, 2009 by Tom

By KATHIE OBRADOVICH "¢ [email protected]

Republican Jim Gibbons of Des Moines, a former Iowa State University wrestling coach, will run for Congress in Iowa's 3rd Congressional District.

The winner of the GOP primary will take on incumbent Democrat Leonard Boswell.

Gibbons, 50, said Thursday that he is leaving his job at Wells Fargo Advisors to pursue a full-time campaign. "I think anything that you do successfully, you can't do that with one foot in and one foot out, "he said.

He said he began thinking seriously about running when he got a call from an old friend, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a two-time NCAA wrestling champion from the University of Wisconsin.

"He called me up in the middle of the summer and he asked, 'Jim have you ever considered running for Congress?' And I said, 'Every day.' "

Iowa has had a few wrestlers in top-level political positions, including former U.S. Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa City, and former Iowa House Speaker Brent Siegrist of Council Bluffs. Republicans have tried, unsuccessfully so far, to recruit former Hawkeye wrestling coach Dan Gable to run for office.

"I think we're used to being in the arena alone, and going up against your component. So I think that lends itself well to being competitive, "Gibbons said.

Gibbons, a national champion wrestler and All-American in his junior year at ISU, coached ISU's wrestling team from 1986 to 1992. The team won the NCAA championship in 1987.

He said he's applying his background in coaching to his campaign - focusing on fundamentals like raising money and building up his campaign team. He notes that his coaching background has taught him how to motivate people and his financial services experience means he knows how to reach and talk to donors and other supporters. He also has TV experience, as a commentator for ESPN, among others.

"Excessive government spending "is the issue he points to as a priority, although he's not ready to talk about what federal programs he would cut. He's a critic of the federal stimulus bill as failing to create or sustain jobs, and he opposes cap and trade.

Gibbons will face Dave Funk of Runnells, a retired pilot, in the GOP primary. Sen. Brad Zaun of Urbandale also has said he's considering running. Gibbons starts with an advantage over the GOP field in terms of name identification, and he'll likely be able to raise the money to mount a competitive challenge.

Paulsons Together Again In The Iowa State Wrestling Room

August 28th, 2009 by Tom

More than two years after their last matches at Iowa State, twins Trent and Travis Paulson remain inseparable.

They live together, they train together and now they're back at ISU together to continue their quest to become world and Olympic freestyle wrestling champions.

"We've always wanted to stay together, just because we feed off each other. We always have," Travis said Tuesday. "We know what we're capable of and we push each other to the limit."

Their return figures to be a two-way deal in the Cyclone wrestling room.

The Paulsons say they'll benefit from training under Iowa State Coach Kevin Jackson, an Olympic gold medalist and former national team coach. Jackson's ISU wrestlers will benefit from having the Paulsons as workout partners.

"Our mentality is we want to work harder in practice than we do in a match," Jackson said. "A match should be easier than practice, so with these guys in our room, it kind of plays into that. We're actually wrestling at a higher level than we'll face in competition. There are no collegians as good as these guys right now."

Trent Paulson ended his Iowa State career by winning the NCAA championship at 157 pounds in 2007 and finished with a 115-20 record. Travis finished fifth at 165 in his final NCAA meet and went 106-32 at ISU.

The former Council Bluffs Lewis Central stars have been training at Nebraska for the past year.

"I just kind of had a deep feeling that I'd be a part of something special by coming back," Trent said. "Not only will the Cyclones be right in there to be national champions as a team, at the same time they're winning national titles, Travis and I will be making world teams and winning world medals."

Added Travis, "It was tough to leave (Nebraska), but when the opportunity arose to come back to Iowa State and work out in the toughest room in the country, I had to take it.''

Trent will compete for the world championship at 145.5 pounds in Herning, Denmark next month. Iowa State wrestler Jake Varner is the U.S. entry at 211.5 pounds.

"I'm getting a lot of great experience, a lot of different perspectives, a lot of different coaching," Trent said. "I'm just trying to be a sponge right now and bring back as much as I can."

The Paulsons' return is part of Jackson's plan to set up a regional training center at Iowa State for world-class wrestlers. That should help recruiting, he said, because top-notch high school prospects would see they'd have a chance to work out with some of the best wrestlers in the country.

"We are in pursuit of other world-class wrestlers,'' said Jackson, who got the Iowa State job May 1 after Cael Sanderson left to become the coach at Penn State.

The Cyclone Wrestling Club will pay the Paulsons' living expenses so they can train full-time. Their other option had been to move to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

"The Cyclone Club's been unbelievable, very supportive," Trent said. "Even when we were at Nebraska, they'd drop us e-mails asking how we're doing, saying once a Cyclone, always a Cyclone. They just always cared.

"They went above and beyond to get us back. We're excited to be back in Cyclone country."

The Paulsons share a house they bought in Ames a year ago and had been renting out. But they confine their wrestling to the Iowa State mats. No moving the furniture aside so they can tussle on the living room floor.

Laughing, Travis said, "We're in the wrestling room so much, we really don't have any energy when we get home."

Success to Follow Dynamic Gallick Duo

August 16th, 2009 by Tom

AMES, Iowa "For Iowa State's current 141-pound wrestling standout, a former Cyclone 141-pound NCAA champion is in his corner all the way this season. Luckily for Nick Gallick, it's his workout partner, coach and older brother, Nate Gallick.

The Gallick brothers don't have a sibling rivalry. Nate and Nick Gallick's relationship could be more closely described as a partnership. Their brotherly arrangement exists in the realms of both collegiate and freestyle wrestling. They want to be the best and sometimes the road to being on top is a hard path to take.

Brothers are sometimes the most hard on each other, but for the Gallick brothers; that is part of their goal.

"Having Nate back in the room with me on a daily basis will be good," Nick Gallick said. "That is going to help me. I'm really excited he is back."

Nick Gallick has shadowed his older brother's career closely in his time in a Cyclone singlet. The younger Gallick is a two-time All-American heading into his senior season, like his older brother. Nate Gallick finished his senior season as the 2006 NCAA 141-pound champion and is now a volunteer coach on ISU's wrestling coaching staff.

"We've had pretty similar careers here at Iowa State," Nate Gallick said. "I think he fell short a little bit last year, but I think he's had the capability to be a national champion."

ISU's Nick Gallick plans to couple the knowledge of the new coaching staff, led by Iowa State head coach Kevin Jackson, with his own work ethic.

"I'm putting in the extra work," Nick Gallick said. "I'm getting with all the coaches and I'm really excited about the coaching staff. They are helping me work on areas that I need to work on."

Nick Gallick's focus remains on the collegiate arena while Nate Gallick's gaze has shifted towards the top of the national freestyle ranks. Nate Gallick feels that being back in a recognizable wrestling room can push him towards the summit of the international wrestling scene.

"Ames is a familiar training environment for me," Nate Gallick said. "I'll have great workout partners. Being here with Coach Jackson is awesome. I'm really fortunate to have him be able to coach me."

Nate Gallick is a force to be reckoned with in freestyle wrestling. Competing at 60 kg (132 pounds), Gallick took first-place honors at the 2007 U.S. Senior Nationals and placed third at the 2008 Olympic Team Trials. An injury suffered while wrestling overseas hampered Gallick over the last year, but he has returned to top-form since leaving his post as assistant coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga for Iowa State.

"I learned a lot about coaching while at Chattanooga," Nate Gallick said. "Being down there with Coach Bono helped me learn a lot and I think I'll be able to come back here and help our guys. I will also make them appreciate what they have here at Iowa State."

Several of today's seniors cemented their places in the lineup as freshmen. Gallick wants to put an impressive stamp on the final chapter of his Cyclone career.

"I think we've done great things as a class," Nick Gallick said. "We have so much potential that we are definitely going to go for it all this year. We're here working to ensure that we get it."

Older brother Nate Gallick echoes his younger brother in his confidence behind the ISU title hunt. In his supporting role, Nate Gallick will still enjoy the thrill of victory.

"I can't wait until March," Nate Gallick said. "I'm really excited. I know these seniors really well. I want to be in their corner. I want to help them reach their individual goals. I want to be part of a national championship team. This team has potential."

In regards to the coaching corner, those faithful to Cyclone wrestling will see a new staff of familiar faces. Jackson, along with his staff, have taken the helm in Ames. Nate Gallick has experience with Jackson from the Olympic Training Center and expects great things in the coaching department.

"When we are showing technique to the wrestlers, we'll be demonstrating the same techniques, along with the rest of the staff." Nate Gallick said.

Current Iowa Stater Nick Gallick affirms his older brother's confidence in the new staff.

"I think our coaching staff will be super technical," Nick Gallick said. "They are in here pushing us to work. As much time as we are willing to put in; they will be here for us. That work will take us far."

Constructive criticism in coaching from a sibling might not be the easiest to take. For the Gallicks, pinpointing areas of wrestling technique refinement is of the utmost importance.

"I'm probably one of his main workout partners," Nate Gallick said. "When I see him doing something wrong; I'm his brother, so I can't help but tell him. If he sees me doing something wrong, I hope he tells me. I respect his wrestling skills as much as he respects mine. We are both being here to help each other."

Nick Gallick ventured even further to note that he looks at his older brother as more than just a sibling, but as an indispensible asset of wrestling knowledge.

"He'll be able to help me out and I'll be able to help him," Nick Gallick said. "Nate being here is going to be nothing but positive things for me."

The older Gallick emphasized the importance of his younger brother's senior season.

"This is his senior year and I think he's got the skills, technique and mindset to win a national title," Nate Gallick said. "Overall, he's had a great career here, win or lose."

Former ISU Wrestler Tyler Clark Back In Business at Iowa

July 8th, 2009 by Tom

ISU transfer back in business at Iowa

By Andy Hamilton "¢ Iowa City Press-Citizen "¢ July 3, 2009

Rankings apparently came into play when Tyler Clark made his decision to leave Iowa State and transfer to Iowa.

The two-time NCAA qualifier was listing some of the factors Thursday that led to his departure from the Cyclones when the business major mentioned the University of Iowa's Tippie Business School, which recently ranked 44th nationally by U.S. News. Iowa State was unranked.

Of course, Iowa's No. 1 wrestling program factored into the equation too.

"Right now," Clark said, "this is the place to be."

Clark, a 125-pounder, feels so strongly Iowa is the place for him that he's sacrificing a scholarship check and an opportunity to compete next year to join the Hawkeyes.

Clark said Iowa State granted him a conditional release after coach Cael Sanderson left the Cyclones for Penn State and Kevin Jackson took over in Ames. Clark was restricted from transferring to Iowa penalty-free. Thus, he can't have contact with Tom Brands or the Iowa coaches until his first day of classes in the fall, he'll have to pay his way through school next year without scholarship assistance and he won't be eligible to compete for the Hawkeyes next season.

Clark's situation is similar to what four current Hawkeyes went through in 2006. Seniors Brent Metcalf, Jay Borschel, Dan LeClere and Joe Slaton, along with graduated senior T.H. Leet, left Virginia Tech after their first year at the school to attend Iowa and follow Brands, who had been named the head coach of the Hawkeyes that April.

Clark, however, didn't use his redshirt at Iowa State so he won't lose a year of eligibility next season and has two years left to compete.

"I would like to wrestle," Clark said. "I'm on track as it is to graduate in four years. I've kept up on my schooling, so it would've been nice to graduate and have wrestling done in four years and focus on getting my master's. But it might be a blessing in disguise. This could be a big improvement year for me. Not having that redshirt coming straight out of high school, I gained a lot of experience and I really didn't have a chance to focus on my weak areas. This might be a time I can do that."

Clark said a year of strictly training will give him an opportunity to hone his basic skills and get back to wrestling with an attacking style.

"I was like that in high school, and I kind of drifted away from that," he said. "I'd like to get back to the way I was " always attacking, always being the aggressor."

Clark picked Iowa State over Iowa during his senior year at Bettendorf. He said he was drawn to Ames by the recruiting pitch and plan that Iowa State assistant Cody Sanderson offered and envisioned himself going into engineering at the time.

The Cyclones pulled Clark out of redshirt for the National Duals in 2008. He went 18-12 as a freshman and posted a 25-8 record last year, notching a victory in January against national champion Angel Escobedo of Indiana before going 1-2 at the NCAA Championships.

Clark said "there were quite a few factors" that led to his decision to leave Iowa State.
"Obviously, coach Sanderson quitting was a big disappointment. I really liked him and it sucked to see him leave," he said.

"I wanted to wait and see who the (new) coach was. There had been rumors that (Iowa assistant) Terry (Brands) was going to take the job, so I wanted to wait and see. I didn't really make a decision until I found out who the coach was. I went and talked to coach Jackson maybe two and a half weeks after that and told him I wanted a release."

Jackson told The Des Moines Register he got the feeling Clark "wasn't comfortable with the change" and said Clark "would have had a tough time making our lineup next year with Andrew Long and Anthony Valles."

"That's not the reason I left," Clark said. "I don't run away from a challenge. If I did, I wouldn't be coming into the returning national champions' room, so it's not that I'm running. But at the same time, he's got to motivate those guys who are still there. Anthony Valles and Andrew Long are both tough competitors, and he's got to find a way to motivate them."

Clark will be reunited with high school teammates Jordan Johnson and Nick Trizzino at Iowa.

"I've talked to a lot of guys (at Iowa), and they've been pretty nice and welcoming," Clark said. "They haven't really held any grudges that I know of. I've talked to some of the guys at Iowa State, some close friends and they all understand. They just said you've got to do what's best for you, and I believe this is the best place for me right now."

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Backes Named Volunteer Asst Coach at Virginia Tech

May 17th, 2009 by Tom

Virginia Polytechnic Institute Sports Information

BLACKSBURG -- The Virginia Tech Athletic Department, along with head wrestling coach Kevin Dresser, announced Thursday that former Iowa State standout Kurt Backes will join the staff of the Hokies beginning immediately. Backes will serve as volunteer assistant wrestling coach for Virginia Tech after spending the 2009 season as strength and conditioning coordinator for the University of Missouri.

"I saw how well Virginia Tech did [in 2008-09], "Backes said. "They have a lot of talent, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to come aboard and help. Coach [Kevin] Dresser worked under Dan Gable, so he learned from the best, and now I feel like I can learn from the best in Coach Dresser."

Prior to his Missouri stint, Backes was a two-time All-American at Iowa State University. Backes took seventh place at the NCAA Championships at 184 pounds his freshman year, and then collected runner-up honors as a senior at 197 pounds. Backes won Big 12 titles at 184 pounds in 2005 and 2006. In his Cyclone career, Backes tallied 109 wins. He spent the 2008 season as a member of the support staff for the 2008 Big 12 Champion Cyclones.

While redshirting his freshman season at Iowa State, Backes won the 185-pound title at the 2003 Men's FILA Junior Freestyle National Championships and wrestled on the U.S. squad at the 2003 World FILA Junior Championships.

"Kurt Backes is exactly the kind of guy we need right now to continue the growth of Virginia Tech wrestling, "Dresser said. "Kurt is a young guy who can make an immediate impact in our room. His background in New Jersey and at Iowa State will also be addition to Virginia Tech wrestling. He will work the entire team, however wrestling with the big guys will be an asset."

Backes was born May 13, 1983 and graduated from Iowa State in 2007 with a degree in business finance. A native of Neshanic Station, N.J., he attended Blair Academy, where he was a three-time national prep and New Jersey state champion.

Kevin Jackson: I’m Best Candidate for ISU Job

April 26th, 2009 by Tom

Former Iowa State gold medalist Kevin Jackson hopes his connection to the program and his experience coaching the 2008 U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team make him a contender to become the next coach of the Cyclones.

Jackson, a captain and all-American on Iowa State's last NCAA championship team in 1987, said he has made his interest known to Iowa State officials.

"With my experience, my knowledge and my years in wrestling coaching training, standing next to Terry and Tom (Brands) and also being trained by Dan Gable and being around Bobby Douglas, "Jackson said, "there is no better candidate for the job than I am."

Tom Brands is the current coach at rival Iowa, while Terry Brands helped Jackson coach the U.S. team last August at the Beijing Olympics.

Bobby Douglas coached Iowa State before the program was taken over by Cael Sanderson, the popular coach who recently resigned to accept the top job at Penn State.

Jackson said after trying to contact Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard about the Cyclones' opening, he was told by senior associate athletic director David Harris to submit his material.

Arizona State also is seeking a head coach - and Jackson said he has applied for that position.

"If I'm their No. 1 choice (at Iowa State), I'll stay in the mix, "Jackson said. "If I'm not their No. 1 choice, I have Arizona State that I also have applied for."

Jackson said he hopes to talk with Pollard as early as today in an effort to determine if he fits into the Iowa State picture.

"The rivalry between Iowa and Iowa State is what intrigues me the most because I am a Cyclone, "he said.

Jackson, who won freestyle world championships in 1991 and 1995 in addition to his Olympic gold in 1992, has never been a head coach at the college level.

He served as national freestyle coach for USA Wrestling between 2001 and 2008. He is currently head coach for the Arizona-based Sunkist Kids club program.

"I would beat my head against a wall if a Hawkeye got that job, one, and two, if the right man did not get that job because I know what it's going to take to compete against Iowa, to beat Iowa, also to contend for a national championship, "Jackson said.

"You have a team right now at Iowa State that's capable of not only beating (Iowa) in a dual, but they're capable of dominating that dual meet and they're capable of winning the national championship. It's going to take an above-average coach to withstand what Iowa's bringing to the table."

Meanwhile, Boise State coach Greg Randall is happy staying put - but said he could be lured away.

Randall, a four-time state champion for Mount Vernon, on Thursday said the Iowa State opening is intriguing.

"It would bring a new challenge, that's for sure, and a lot of pressure, "said Randall, who is 74-26 in seven seasons with the Broncos. "I don't mind pressure because that's when I work the best. I know it would be totally different from this job."

Randall, a three-time all-American at Iowa, said one detail needs to be worked out.

"I haven't even been contacted (by Iowa State), "Randall said. "Maybe I won't, maybe I will. We'll see.

"I'm not looking to go anywhere right now, but if the right job came to me and my family was happy with it, we'd probably do it."

One known candidate for the job is Tennessee-Chattanooga coach Chris Bono, a former NCAA champion and assistant coach at Iowa State.

Ohio State assistant Joe Heskett, an NCAA champion and four-time finalist for the Cyclones, has declined comment when asked whether he has interest in the position or has been contacted by Cyclone officials.

Iowa AD says Tom Brands is not interested in Cyclone job

April 23rd, 2009 by Tom

Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard showed interest in Iowa assistant wrestling coach Terry Brands, according to Hawkeye officials, but the feeling may not have been mutual.

Meanwhile, some of Iowa State's signees are waiting to see who the Cyclones hire for their vacant head coaching position before deciding their immediate futures.

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta indicated in an e-mail to The Des Moines Register that Pollard expressed interest in Brands after Cael Sanderson left the Cyclones to become coach at Penn State.

Barta said, however, that Brands indicated he's not interested in replacing Sanderson in Ames.

"Terry is a world-class coach and so this certainly didn't surprise me or anyone else, "Barta wrote. "However, on more than one occasion (Tuesday) Terry shared with me he is not interested in becoming the coach at Iowa State, that he's a Hawkeye."

Brands, the brother of Iowa coach Tom Brands, said Tuesday afternoon he had not been contacted about the job, but declined additional comment on questions that would specifically eliminate his name from consideration.

He left Wednesday for Venezuela to help coach at the Pan American Championships.

Pollard has declined an interview request this week - and has not commented publicly during past coaching searches.

Former Iowa State NCAA champion Joe Heskett, another possible candidate for the job, declined comment Wednesday.

Heskett, a four-time NCAA finalist and former Sanderson teammate, is an assistant coach at Ohio State, which finished second to Iowa during last month's NCAA Tournament.

Iowa State has at least four high school seniors signed to national letters of intent.

Whether many of those recruits enroll at Iowa State or ask to be released from their commitments hinges on Iowa State's next coach.

"I have to wait to see who they hire for me to be released anyway, so I'm waiting to see who they get, "said Trent Weatherman, a two-time state champion from Ballard of Huxley. "Depending on whether I think that's going to be the best choice for me, to see if (scholarship money) stays the same, that will help me make my decision whether I'm staying or going somewhere else."

Weatherman, who helped his team to Class 2-A traditional and dual-meet state championships each of the past two seasons, said the news of Sanderson's departure was difficult to hear.

"It wasn't good news at all, "Weatherman said. "It was a hard enough decision the first time around, and now it's even a harder decision because I have a lot less options and kind of have to make the same choice all over again."

Weatherman said Iowa State told him it will not release recruits from their commitments until they have met with the new coach.

David Taylor, a four-time state champion from St. Paris Graham of Ohio, declined comment Wednesday about his plans.

Brett Means, wrestling coach at Goddard (Kan.) High School, referred questions about the status of four-time state champion Boaz Beard to his father. Beard's father did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

The plans for Luke Macchiaroli, a three-time champion from Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Ariz., are unknown, according to Corona del Sol coach Dave Vibber.

"I will tell you he loved Cael and that is why he wanted to go to Iowa State, "Vibber said.

The wait-and-see carries down to individuals who have considered the Cyclones but remain unsigned.

At Urbandale, coach Mike Moreno said his son, Michael, and teammate Evan Knight want to find out the identity of the new coach.

The elder Moreno was an all-America wrestler at Iowa State, as was Steve Knight, Evan's father.

Changing plans can be a knee-jerk reaction to a coach making a job change, Moreno said.

"After the smoke clears and everything settles, it's still Iowa State, "Moreno said.

ISU wrestling: Sanderson ‘sorry’ to leave Ames

April 20th, 2009 by Tom

By SEAN KEELER AND TOMMY BIRCH "¢ [email protected] "¢ April 17, 2009
Ames, Ia. " Cael Sanderson told reporters today that he hasn't slept in a few days. Now it's Iowa State wrestling fans' turn to suffer through some sleepless nights.

"I don't have an answer for them other than, 'I'm sorry,' " Sanderson said of the news that he was leaving the Cyclones " his alma mater " to coach at Penn State. "I just feel like this is the best move for me and my family (wife Kelly and son Tate)."

The 29-year-old Sanderson, a four-time NCAA champion, had been Iowa State's wrestling coach since 2006, when he was offered the top job in an effort to keep him in Ames at a time when a number of schools " including rival Iowa " had coaching vacancies to fill.

The Cyclones won Big 12 Conference titles all three years under Sanderson and finished in the top five in each of the past three NCAA championships. But Sanderson said the "potential" of a program that hasn't won a national wrestling title since 1953 was enough to sway him to move east.

"The resources there are unbelievable," Sanderson said of the State College, Pa., campus. "There was a lot of weighing things. It was back and forth in my mind. I didn't really have a wrong answer.

"I could stay here, where I love Iowa State and that is never going to change. This is the place that I wanted to win at. This is home. You can't go wrong. It's just the potential and the possibilities of Penn State. It's the highest-regarded institution in sports, in the East and maybe in the country.

Sanderson will be introduced at Penn State in a news conference scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday.

"My intention was never to use Iowa State as a steppingstone," said Sanderson, who appeared to choke back tears as he met with the media at the Lied Recreation Athletic Center. "Leaving, I know that's a tough thing. But I know it's tougher on me than any one of our fans. Nobody cares more about Iowa State wrestling than I do."

Athletic director Jamie Pollard did not grant interview requests by Register reporters today, but said in a statement that he made efforts this week to keep Sanderson in the fold.

"Those talks included me asking what, if anything, could we do to keep him at Iowa State," the statement read. "I also asked President (Gregory) Geoffroy, (women's basketball coach) Bill Fennelly and (men's basketball coach) Greg McDermott to reach out to Cael and they all did so.

"In the end, Cael said that he appreciated everything Iowa State and our fans had done for him but he believes winning a national championship will be easier at Penn State. He said the high school talent in Pennsylvania and surrounding states is the best in the country and the kids in that area grow up wanting to wrestle for the Nittany Lions."

Sanderson earned a base salary of $137,000, making him one of the highest-paid wrestling coaches in the United States. He's expected to make more than that with the Lions, although details were not made available today.

Penn State boasts one of the largest athletic departments in the country, with a budget of $79.2 million for 29 sports during the 2007-08 school year, according to U.S. Department of Education reports. By comparison, Iowa State's budget was $38.6 million over 18 sports. The Lions' total operating expenses for wrestling were $189,088 in '07-08, while the Cyclones' expenses were less than a third of that " $56,782.

Penn State finished 17th at the NCAA championships last month in St. Louis, Mo. Iowa State was third. In the 56 years since the Lions' last national crown, the Cyclones have claimed seven titles, although none since 1987.

"I'm just like everyone else," junior Cyclone wrestler Mitch Mueller said. "I didn't think it'd actually happen."

Sanderson is the only collegiate wrestler to win four national championships while never losing a match (159-0). He also won the United States' only freestyle gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

"There's no better job than Iowa State," said Bobby Douglas, Sanderson's college coach and the man he replaced in Ames. "I think Penn State just upped the ante a little bit as far as wrestling is concerned."

Upon being hired in 2006, Sanderson said: "We want to be the dominant program in the country. I know the expectations are high and that's what I love about Iowa State. We're going to win national championships. There are no other goals here."

He came close once, finishing second in 2007.

"I'm disappointed just a little bit," said Dan Gable, another former Iowa State gold-medal wrestler who also left the program to coach at a Big Ten school " in this case, Iowa. "It wouldn't sit well with me if I was just an Iowa State fan right now."
In his statement, Pollard said a national search for a replacement would begin

"immediately and focus our full attention on identifying and recruiting a new coach who can add to the Iowa State championship legacies of former coaches Hugo Otopalik, Dr. Harold Nichols and Jim Gibbons."

Staff writer Tom Witosky contributed to this report.

Statement from ISU athletics director Jamie Pollard

April 19th, 2009 by Tom

Iowa State University Sports Information

AMES, Iowa -- The following is a statement from Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard:

(Regarding Cael Sanderson's departure to Penn State)

"Cael (Sanderson) shared with me today that he has accepted the head coaching position at Penn State. I am extremely saddened for our institution's student-athletes, staff, alums and fans. It is a difficult day for all Cyclones as we cope with the departure of a truly outstanding and accomplished student and coach. Cael's unblemished collegiate record, Olympic glory and promising start as a coach all came while he was representing Iowa State University and he will forever be recognized as a Cyclone."

"During the last week, Cael and I talked numerous times and we had several in-depth and personal discussions about this decision. Those talks included me asking what, if anything, could we do to keep him at Iowa State. I also asked President (Gregory) Geoffroy, Bill Fennelly and Greg McDermott to reach out to Cael and they all did so. In the end, Cael said that he appreciated everything Iowa State and our fans had done for him but he believes winning a national championship will be easier at Penn State. He said the high school talent in Pennsylvania and surrounding states is the best in the country and the kids in that area grow up wanting to wrestle for the Nittany Lions. He also said their overall athletics department resources are the best in the country."

"I know this has been a very challenging and emotional decision for Cael and his family. I encourage all of our fans to put aside their disappointment and, instead, respect Cael for making a decision that he believes is in the best interest of his family. We are sad to see him leave, but we certainly wish him the best."

"We will begin a national search for his replacement immediately and focus our full attention on identifying and recruiting a new coach who can add to the Iowa State championship legacies of former coaches Hugo Otopalik, Dr. Harold Nichols and Jim Gibbons."

Cael Leaving for Penn State

April 19th, 2009 by Tom

By K.J. Pilcher

The Gazette

A source associated with the Iowa State wrestling program has confirmed that Cael Sanderson is leaving Iowa State University and will be named the head coach at Penn State University to replace the recently resigned Troy Sunderland.

The source said an Iowa State team meeting was scheduled for 3 p.m. today.

The Center Daily Times, which covers Penn State, had reported in its Friday edition that Sanderson was at Penn State interviewing for job.

Rumors and Internet comments had been flying about the situation since Thursday.

Sunderland resigned this month after 11 years as head coach. Penn State spokesman Pat Donghia said Thursday the university had no comment on the search process.

Sanderson, an Iowa State alumnus, recently completed his third season coaching the Cyclones. Iowa State finished third behind Iowa and Ohio State during last month's NCAA Championships. The Cyclones also won the Big 12 Tournament title and finished 15-3 in dual meets.

Sanderson went 159-0 during his college career at Iowa State. He captured his fourth NCAA title in 2002 and claimed a gold medal two years later at the Athens Olympics. Sanderson replaced Bobby Douglas as the Cylcones' head coach in 2006.

Sanderson has deep ties to Iowa State. His older brother, Cody, is the school's associate head coach, while his younger brother, Cyler, wrestles for the Cyclones.

Sanderson received a base salary of $132,500 during the 2008 fiscal year, according to Iowa public records.

Sanderson, 29, is one of multiple high-profile coaches who have been in contact with Penn State. According to multiple sources, the search committee has interviewed more than a half-dozen coaches.

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