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Penn State-bound Alton twins cap junior careers with freestyle titles

August 1st, 2009 by Tom

Penn State-bound twins cap junior careers with freestyle titles

by Guy Cipriano

Future Penn State wrestlers Andrew and Dylan Alton handled their last appearances in the Junior National Championships with the same demeanor they display everywhere else they compete.

They left the boasting to others. They didn't drop any tears as they left the FargoDome for the final time as competitors.

"I'm sort of glad it's the last time," Dylan said Sunday afternoon. "I'm ready to move onto the next level."

The Central Mountain duo will bring incredible resumes to Penn State in 2010.

Andrew and Dylan captured the 140 and 145 titles, respectively, during Saturday night's freestyle finals in Fargo, N.D. The twins shared Outstanding Wrestler honors.

The Altons spent plenty of time atop the Fargo podium. They combined to win nine cadet and junior freestyle and Greco-Roman titles. The twins captured junior freestyle titles the past two years.

Most wrestling experts consider the tournament the nation's premiere scholastic event. Dozens of college coaches, including Penn State's Cael Sanderson, attended this year's tournament, which started July 18.

Pennsylvania's presence in the event fluctuates, with some of the state's best wrestlers choosing to stay home and heal between grueling seasons. The Altons have never missed the tournament, although they didn't enter the Greco-Roman portion of this year's event.

"We never really practice Greco," Andrew said. "We just go out there and wrestle it. We wanted to focus on one style."

Andrew, coincidentally, met another 2009 PIAA champ in the finals, ending his tournament with a 3-0, 3-4, 1-0 victory over Blue Mountain's Josh Kindig. Andrew also defeated Kindig twice during this past spring's FILA Junior National Championships.

"He gets tougher and tougher," Andrew said. "This was the third time I faced him this year. He was a lot tougher for some reason. I knew I had to get my offense going."

Andrew and Kindig are friends, but awkward situations develop when they enter the same weight class.

"We usually don't speak with each other," Andrew said. "We don't know what to say."

Andrew went 12-0 on his way to the title. He also received challenges from Minnesota's Dylan Ness, New Jersey's Chris Villalonga and Wisconsin's Nazar Kulchytsky.

Dylan went 10-0, handling California's Vlad Dombrowskiy 6-0, 2-3, 3-1 in the finals. He defeated his first six opponents by either fall or technical fall.

"The title meant a lot to me," Dylan said. "I wanted to go out a champ."

The Altons were two of three Pennsylvania wrestlers to earn junior freestyle titles. Council Rock South's Josh Dziewa started a streak of three straight Pennsylvania victories by winning at 135.

Andrew and Dylan were centerpieces of a tight-knit Pennsylvania team. The group traveled to Fargo by bus, a trip that took 22 hours and Penn State assistant Troy Letters served as one of its coaches.

The team also included West Mifflin's Sam Sherlock, who orally committed to Penn State earlier this month. Sherlock dropped his opening bout, but recovered to take third at 130.

Once the tournament ended and the socializing increased, Andrew said the twins received multiple questions about Penn State's future. The Altons committed to the program in April, one week after Sanderson's hiring.

"We're both looking forward to it," Dylan said. "We can't wait for it to start and to get rolling through."

The junior national championships marked the duo's final tournament this summer. They are using the next month to relax and prepare for 2009- 10. Dylan is attempting to become a three-time PIAA champion. Andrew captured his first state title this past spring.

A Hassled Cael Laying Low While Still in Ames

June 8th, 2009 by Tom

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 in April with his decision to leave for the head coaching job at 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 e-mail and letters were written.

One fan, Sanderson said, went to his house, rang the doorbell and threw ISU clothing into the house at his wife, Kelly, and 2-year-old son Tate. They now don't go 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 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."

At 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 organizing the Penn State program, securing recruits and getting his 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."

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. Penn State 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 by his 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."

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Penn State Wrestlers Excited by Cael’s Hiring

April 26th, 2009 by Tom

By Stephen Hennessey and Jocelyn Syrstad
Collegian Staff Writers

The signing of Cael Sanderson as Penn State's next head wrestling coach has 149-pound Penn State wrestler Bubba Jenkins declaring a "new Penn State era "in which the Nittany Lions could challenge Iowa for the "dominating team "in college wrestling.

The announcement of the former Iowa State head coach leaving to become Penn State's next head coach has the Nittany Lion wrestlers excited and Iowa State wrestlers shocked.

"I don't think they could have made a better decision than what they did, "125-pound Penn State wrestler Brad Pataky said. "His credentials are so superior. I am so excited about the decision. I've been such a fan of Cael, so it's really exciting to have him as part of our program."

Sanderson brings one of the most impressive résumés in college wrestling with him to Penn State. He won an ESPY award in 2002 for Best Male Collegiate Athlete after completing an undefeated career, the only wrestler in the history of collegiate wrestling to have an unblemished record. In each of his first three seasons as coach of Iowa State, the Cyclones finished in the top five at the NCAA Tournament.

Jenkins said Sanderson called him Saturday and the two talked for 30 minutes about Cyclone wrestlers who might transfer, coaches who could come with Sanderson and other aspects concerning the Lion squad. Although Jenkins didn't know who the coaches would be, he said the conversation was helpful.

"He's excited. He's really excited, "Jenkins said. "He actually made me excited because he made it sound like it wasn't only about the money -- he really wanted to be at Penn State and be a Nittany Lion."

Sanderson's salary has not yet been made official.

Jenkins referred to next year's Penn State squad as a possible "Nittany Cyclone "team, a mix between wrestlers from Iowa State and Penn State. Jenkins said Sanderson told him most of the older wrestlers on the team would likely stay at Iowa State, but the younger ones could be coming to State College.

Cyclone freshman Matt Brown said he is considering following his coach to Happy Valley after he completes a two-year mission trip with his church.

Brown said Sanderson told a couple of individuals on the team about his decision, but then addressed the entire team Friday to tell them about his decision.

"At first we just thought it was rumors or speculation or something. We didn't think anything of it really, "Cyclone starting 149-pounder Mitch Mueller said. "Once we found out, it was a big surprise and it's a big loss."

Mueller and heavyweight David Zabriskie, both juniors, said they are not considering transferring to Penn State. Zabriskie said having Sanderson as a coach in his corner was an extra bonus because he's a great coach and a legendary figure.

"Penn State can look for big things, great things, "Cyclone 141-pounder Nick Gallick said. "He's great. He's a great coach. He leads by example. You look at his career in wrestling and you don't get any better than that. He's the best there is, and they can definitely look forward to great things. I can't see him coaching a team that isn't successful. He's the best."

Nittany Lions assistant coach Mark Perry said he hadn't talked to Sanderson yet and wasn't sure if he would be kept on staff, but if a good opportunity presented itself, he would like to stay with the Lions.

"Would I like to be here? Yes, "Perry said. "That's why I came here in the first place -- because I think there's so much potential here. If things were right, there's nothing more I would like than to be here. I could really grow from Cael Sanderson."

Current Maryland head coach and former Lion grappler Kerry McCoy said he traveled to State College to meet informally with some people to talk about the coaching vacancy at Penn State following Troy Sunderland's resignation. While he's content with staying with the Terrapins, McCoy said he would have to listen to an offer for an assistant coach position at Penn State if a move made sense for him, but said it is "not likely."

"It's almost like I have to wear two hats: one as a competitor and one as an alum, "McCoy said Friday. "It's intriguing. This made the competition that much more hard, but as an alum, it's great to see."

Junior Penn State wrestler Dan Vallimont said the biggest effect of the Sanderson signing will likely be recruiting. Pataky said young wrestlers from Pennsylvania will not look to go to schools outside of the state anymore, with a legendary figure like Sanderson in-state.

"The name Cael Sanderson will bring kids, "Jenkins said. "I think it's gonna be a good thing for the sport of wrestling just because I think domination from the state of Iowa is going to change, especially recruiting. Everyone is gonna want to flock here."

Perry underwent a coaching change during his wrestling career at Iowa and said the transition from Sunderland's regime to Sanderson's will have a huge impact on the Lion wrestlers.

"For the guys that have been around for a little bit, it's going to be kind of a culture shock just because they've been around one thing for so long, and it's going to be so much different, "Perry said. "They're going to have to be a little more open-minded. When you go from one extreme to the next, it can be challenging, but if you're open-minded, it will work out."

Perry said Sanderson's signing "caught everybody off guard "because he wasn't being talked about as one of the top candidates. But Jenkins said the signing "absolutely "puts the Lions into the conversation for national championship contenders for next season.

"For Penn State fans, they probably couldn't be more ecstatic, "Perry said. "You got one of the legendary names in the sport, and he's young so he'll be here for a long time. Penn State's future is looking bright."

Sanderson talks about decision to leave for Penn State

April 20th, 2009 by Tom

Cael Sanderson had an answer for why he was leaving Iowa State for Penn State.

He just didn't know if it was a good one.

The 29-year-old head coach addressed his team Friday afternoon, then spoke with a couple recruits, and then spoke the media, telling of his stunning move to leave Ames.

An offer Sanderson said he wouldn't have previously considered turned into an opportunity he couldn't resist.

"A lot of the reasons for staying at Iowa State were more emotional, "Sanderson said. "This is a place that, where you can get it done here, you know. I haven't been able to quite do that yet. I believed we were right on the edge, and so that makes it even more difficult to "to leave, but I don't know; it's a tough decision.

"I don't know how long "I haven't slept in a few days here. And it feels like it's the right thing to do, but only time will tell."

The latest story of a coach leaving Iowa State is probably the most confusing.

Training in Ames, Sanderson developed the most impressive resume of any collegiate wrestler ever, winning all 159 matches, four NCAA titles and then an Olympic Gold Medal in 2004.

After he was promoted to head coach in the spring of 2006, Sanderson experience immediate success, as the Cyclone won a Big 12 title and placed second in his rookie year.

Iowa State placed third-place at the NCAA Tournament in March and was supposed to bring back a team with 10 returning starters, including Cael's younger brother, Cyler.

"That didn't make it any easier," Cael said. "And being with these guys; I was an assistant when they were recruited here, but they're great friends of mine. We've been though a lot together, and I expect those guys to win the nationals next year."

Cael said he never thought of leaving his job, but the offer became more intriguing after time and consideration.

He said he sees leaving for Penn State as the best opportunity for his family.

He thought that Cyler would like "to go with us" "a group he expects to include head assistants Casey Cunningham and Cody Sanderson "Cael's oldest brother.

Cael's main reason for leaving, he said, was the recruiting base in Pennsylvania, a state which routinely produces many of the top prospects in the country.

"The resources there are, you know, unbelievable," Sanderson said. "So it's a lot of weighing things, and it was back and forth my mind, and I really didn't have a wrong answer. I could stay here where "I love Iowa State, and that's never going to change."

Wrestlers were stunned by the decision.

"You here a little bit here and there. I knew coming in, and then I don't know, I just really wanted to here for myself," said two-time All-American heavyweight David Zabriskie. "I don't know I'm not too happy about it."

Zabriskie said he was planning on staying for his senior season.

"He just said that it was a move that he wanted to make for his family, so that's for him to take, take it as it is. He didn't really satisfy what I was expecting for an answer, but I didn't know what I was expecting for an answer," he said.

Misinformation circulated about Cael's new contract, which was rumored to be a five-year, $2.5 million dollar deal.

When asked if that number was close to his new salary, Sanderson seemed almost surprised and said "no."

Sanderson said the change was never about money, and that athletic director Jaime Pollard asked him several times if there was anything more that he could do.

"It wasn't ever about a counter offer. I didn't ask for anything, and the decision wasn't based on what they were offering me, versus what Iowa State offers me," Cael said. "I told Jaime that I wasn't really, not really motivated by money. I'm motivated by opportunity and he's been very good for me. Very understanding, and it's hard to leave after you've gotten as much support as you have."

Cael Says “Deal Wasn’t About Money”

April 19th, 2009 by Tom

By Eric Petersen
For The Gazette

AMES " Winning has always come first with Cael Sanderson.

And that, not a massive bump in salary, he said, is at the heart of why the Iowa State coach and wrestling legend is giving up his lofty perch here for potential Penn State promises.

Still seemingly conflicted by leaving the Cyclone program three years after he took it over, Sanderson spoke openly Friday a few steps outside the room where he's spent much of the last 12 years of his life.

Sanderson wrestled with this decision, that much is clear.

"I didn't really have a wrong answer," he said. "I could stay here where I love Iowa State. This is the place I wanted to win at. It is home. The potential and possibilities of Penn State, it is the highest regarded institution of sports in the East, maybe the country. It's tough to turn down."

Sanderson said reports of a salary in the $500,000 range are untrue. He made just more than $130,000 a year at ISU.

"The deal wasn't about money, just about a better opportunity," Sanderson said. "Time will tell whether or not that's true."

Sanderson broke the news to his team Friday afternoon.

The Cyclones finished third at March's NCAA Championships and return all but one starter from the team that was the only one to qualify all 10 wrestlers for nationals.

"They are great friends of mine," Sanderson said. "We've been through a lot together. I expect these guys to win nationals next year."

Fans and supporters of the program may be angered with Sanderson's decision, particularly after football coach Gene Chizik bolted for Auburn in December after just two seasons.

Sanderson is leaving ISU in a similar fashion.

"They, rightfully so, should be upset," he said. "I don't really have an answer for them other than, 'I'm sorry.' I feel like this is the best move for me and my family. ... Leaving is a tough thing. I think it's tougher on me than any of our fans. Nobody cares about Iowa State wrestling more than I do."

Sanderson went 159-0 and won four national championships at ISU from 1998 through 2002. He won gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and moved up from assistant coach to head coach at Iowa State in 2006, replacing Bobby Douglas.

In three years, Sanderson's teams went 44-10, won three Big 12 Conference championships, qualified all 30 of his starting wrestlers for nationals, and earned 15 All-America awards and two individual national titles.

After some difficult deliberations, Sanderson decided early Friday morning to accept PSU's offer and start a life on the East Coast.

"I'd never really considered taking another job," he said. "I never expected this. ... The potential of the program, the resources there are unbelievable."

The Nittany Lions' recruiting base was a huge selling point. States like Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey and New York are talent-rich.

"There's no place in the country like it," he said.

Sanderson said his older brother, Cody, ISU's lead assistant, will join him on staff. More coaches, recruits and current wrestlers could follow, though many of the athletes " younger brother, Cyler included " will have only one season of eligibility.

"That's a question I can't really answer," Sanderson said. "That's going to be up to them, but I don't know whether or not that opportunity will be available to them."

Penn State finished 17th at this year's NCAA meet.

ISU was second in Sanderson's first season and should be among the nation's best again next season with All-Americans Jake Varner, Nick Gallick, Jon Reader, David Zabriskie and Nick Fanthorpe returning.

ISU Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said a national search for Sanderson's successor is under way.

"You can get it done here," Sanderson said. "I haven't quite been able to do that yet. I believe we are right on the edge and that makes it even more difficult to leave.

"It feels like it is the right thing to do, but only time will tell. I haven't signed my (contract) papers yet."

Official Announcement: Sanderson named head coach at Penn State

April 19th, 2009 by Tom

Penn State University Sports Information

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Director of Athletics Tim Curley has confirmed that wrestling legend Cael Sanderson has accepted the position as the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling program. Sanderson, who recently finished his third year as mentor at Iowa State, will take over the reigns of Penn State's program as its 12th head coach.

 Cael Sanderson (Photo/Tech-Fall.com)

Sanderson will be introduced to the Penn State community and the media at an introductory press conference on Monday, April 20, at 2 p.m. The event will be in Rec Hall and is open to the public. All those in attendance will be able to view the press conference portion of Sanderson's introduction as the new leader of the Nittany Lion wrestling family. The event will be streamed live on www.GoPSUsports.com.

The 29-year old Sanderson comes to Penn State after three extremely successful years as the head coach at his alma mater. Sanderson's teams did not finish any lower than fifth at the NCAA Championships and never had a wrestler not qualify for nationals, getting 30 of 30 grapplers through to the championship tournament.

In 2007, Sanderson's rookie campaign, he led ISU to a 13-3 dual meet record and the first of three straight Big 12 Championships. An NCAA Runner-Up finish in Detroit capped off a wildly successful year as the Cyclones crowned one national champion and Sanderson was honored as Big 12 Coach of the Year, National Rookie Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year. The next year, Sanderson led ISU to a 16-4 dual meet mark, another Big 12 title and a fifth place finish at nationals. Iowa State's seven All-Americans in 2008 were the most at the school since 1993.

This past season, Sanderson's team went 15-3 in duals, won its third straight Big 12 title and took third place at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis (just 12 points out of first place). The Cyclones also crowned another national champion. In three years, Sanderson's teams went 44-10, won three conference crowns, qualified all 30 wrestlers for nationals, and earned 15 All-America awards and two individual national titles.

As a wrestler, Sanderson established himself as the most dominant collegiate competitor in NCAA history. In four years, Sanderson never lost. From 1999-2002, Sanderson posted a 159-0 career record (going 39-0, 40-0, 40-0 and 40-0); won four individual National Championships; won four Most Outstanding Wrestler awards at the NCAA Championships (the only wrestler in NCAA history to do so); became the first freshman in NCAA history to win the O.W. honor and won three Dan Hodge Trophies as the nation's best collegiate wrestler (also a collegiate first). He wrestled his first three years at 184 and them moved to 197 as a senior.

The four-time All-American's four-year streak of perfection was called the No. 2 most outstanding achievement in collegiate sports history by Sports Illustrated and the NCAA called his final win (in the 2002 NCAA 197-pound championship) one of the NCAA's "25 Defining Moments "for its Centennial celebration. His wrestling career culminated in 2004 when the Heber City, Utah, native won the 84 kg Olympic Gold Medal in Athens, Greece.

After graduating in 2002, he spent 2003 and 2004 as a special assistant in the athletic department at Iowa State before joining the ISU coaching staff as an assistant coach in 2004-05. He was promoted to the assistant head coach position the next year and then became the Cyclones' head coach for the 2006-07 season.

Penn State Wrestling season tickets for the 2009-10 season can be reserved now. To make a $20 deposit on the best Rec Hall locations, fans should call 1.800.NITTANY between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. Current wrestling season ticket holders do not need to make a new deposit and will simply go through the coming renewal process. Penn State wrestling season tickets are all reserved locations in Rec Hall. The exact seat assignments for new commitments will not be available until the renewal cycle is complete, but new season ticket commitments made now will be assigned locations based on Nittany Lion Club point totals and the time/date the deposit was received by Penn State Athletics. Season ticket pricing for the 2009-10 season will be finalized and announced by July 1, 2009.

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.

Sunderland Resigns as Penn State Coach

April 9th, 2009 by Tom

Troy Sunderland Resigns as Head Coach of Penn State Wrestling Program
Penn State to conduct immediate nationwide search for successor

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Troy Sunderland has resigned as head coach of the Nittany Lion wrestling program, effective today, Director of Athletics Tim Curley announced. Penn State will begin a national search for his successor immediately.

Sunderland, a 1993 Penn State graduate, recently completed his 11th season as head coach of the Nittany Lions. He leaves Penn State with a 115-90-2 overall dual meet record, having coached Penn State to four top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championships, including a third place finish last year. This past season, Penn State went 8-12-2 and placed 17th at nationals. Sunderland has coached three individual National Champions, 24 All-Americans and seven Big Ten Champions during his tenure.

"I am proud of what we've accomplished at Penn State during my tenure as head coach, "Sunderland said. "While we did not achieve the ultimate goal of winning a national title, I feel that this program is on the cusp of accomplishing that elusive goal. I am pleased with where this program is headed and wish the next coach here the best of luck as the Penn State wrestling family continues to strive for the national title."

Sunderland was a three-time All-American as a wrestler at Penn State, becoming a national runner-up twice. An EWL and Big Ten Champion, Sunderland ended his Penn State wrestling career with a 100-13-3 overall record.

"Troy Sunderland has always represented Penn State with honor and integrity, "Curley said. "As an athlete and a coach, he has embodied the values of Penn State athletics. We are thankful for all he has given to this University and wish him all the best."

Sources Say Sunderland Era Over at Penn State

March 29th, 2009 by Tom

Sources: Sunderland era over at PSU

Posted by ANDY ELDER, For The Patriot-News

CRAIG HOUTZ, Centre Daily Times

According to two sources close to the Penn State wrestling team, the Troy Sunderland era of Penn State wrestling is officially over. The 11-year coach of the Nittany Lions met with athletic director Tim Curley on Thursday morning and was told he could either resign or be fired. As of right now, no decision has been made by Sunderland.
The future of Sunderland and assistant coaches Matt Dernlan, Aaron Anspach and Mark Perry are uncertain as the new coach would almost assuredly want to bring his own people with him. Sunderland amassed a 115-90-2 record in his 11 seasons. He coached 27 All-Americans and guided three wrestlers to national championships. In addition, under his tutelage, seven other wrestlers were NCAA finalists.

Penn State was 8-11-2 overall this season and 1-6-2 in the Big Ten, where the Lions placed ninth in the 11-team standings. At the NCAA meet in St. Louis last weekend, Penn State finished 17th in the team race. This story was first reported on bwi.rivals.com.

Eiter Hired As Head Coach at Penn

October 31st, 2008 by Tom

University of Pennsylvania Sports Information

PHILADELPHIA -- The University of Pennsylvania has announced the hiring of Rob Eiter as its head wrestling coach on Tuesday. Eiter, who has served as an assistant on Penn's staff for the past two seasons, will be the 18th head coach in the 103 seasons of Penn wrestling.

"Rob's extensive experience in coaching as well as his accomplishments as an athlete have prepared him well for a head coaching role, "Penn's Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky said. "We are excited he will take this next professional step at Penn, and his two years as an assistant in our program will serve him well."

"I cannot express how happy my family and I are for this opportunity, "Eiter said. "Penn wrestling has a long tradition, with more than 100 years of competition, and I look forward to continuing that tradition. I want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Bilsky for allowing me the honor and privilege of coaching the young men that make up the Penn wrestling family. At the same time, I want to thank those young men for never losing sight of their goals during this search process and maintaining their positive attitude and work ethic in the room."
Over the past two seasons, Eiter has coached six EIWA champions as well as an NCAA champion and All-America in 2007 graduate Matt Valenti. Penn has won 24 dual meets in his two seasons involved with the program and sent 16 wrestlers to the NCAA Championships.

Eiter, a 1991 graduate of Arizona State, brings a wealth of collegiate and international coaching experience with him. Prior to coming to Penn in 2006, Eiter served as an assistant coach at Northwestern where he helped guide the Wildcats to a 13th-place finish at the 2006 NCAA Championships. That season, seven Northwestern wrestlers qualified for the NCAA Championships and three of those grapplers earned All-America honors.

Before his stint at Northwestern, Eiter served as an assistant at Clarion (Pa.) University where he coached Sheldon Thomas to an NCAA title and tutored Clarion's first-ever four-time All-America, Bryan Stout.

This past July, Eiter served as an assistant on the United States' entry to the 2008 FILA Jr. World Women's Championships in Turkey. He also coached the United States team at the 1999 Women's World Championships.

Before he began his coaching career, Eiter was a standout wrestler. He was a member of the 1992 and 1996 Olympic freestyle teams as well as the 1993 and 1995 World Championships teams. He was a five-time U.S. Open national champion and two-time World Cup silver medalist.

The Quakers enter the 2008-09 season ranked tied for 21st in the InterMat polls and have seven wrestlers ranked in the top 20 in their weight class. The seven ranked grapplers ties Penn for fifth-most in the country entering the season.

Penn begins its 2008-09 season with Wrestle-Offs on Sunday, Nov. 2 and its first home meets of the season on Nov. 22 when the Quakers host Princeton and Michigan starting at noon.

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