Penn State head wrestling coach Cael Sanderson has been named 2019 InterMat Coach of the Year, the amateur wrestling website announced Friday.
It is the sixth time Sanderson has earned Coach of the Year honors in the award’s 14-year history. What’s more, it’s the fourth consecutive year for the 39-year-old Utah native to have received this honor … and it happens to be the fourth straight year Penn State has won the team title at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
Presented each year since 2006 to the best collegiate wrestling coach in all divisions, the award is based exclusively on the votes of writers and executives at InterMat prior to the announcement of other college wrestling awards. Each staff member is asked to select five coaches and rank them from first to fifth based on their performance for the season just completed. Point values are assigned to each placement, ranging from one point to a wrestler listed fifth on a voter’s ballot, up to nine points for a first-place vote.
Sanderson received half of the first-place votes from the InterMat staff, for a total of 49 points, to propel him to the top of the balloting for the fourth straight year. Close behind in the balloting was Rutgers head coach Scott Goodale who guided Nick Suriano and Anthony Ashnault to titles at 133 and 149 pounds, respectively … making them the school’s first-ever champs in the nearly 90-year history of the NCAA wrestling championships. Goodale received a total of 42 points, including one first-place vote, to put him in second place in this year’s balloting. Also receiving one first-place vote each: Iowa State’s Kevin Dresser (who place third overall, with 41 points), Minnesota’s Brandon Eggum (in fourth place, with 20 points), Tony Robie of Virginia Tech (in sixth place, tallying 15 points), and Lock Haven’s Scott Moore (coming in seventh, with 12 points).
Much has been made about a Penn State wrestling dynasty … with the Nittany Lions having won eight team titles since Cael Sanderson took the reins of the program in April 2009, including four consecutive championships since 2016. (Penn State has a total of nine NCAA team championships, having won its first at the 1953 NCAAs with legendary head coach Charlie Speidel guiding his wrestlers to the crown in their home gym, Rec Hall.)
The NCAAs capped off yet another incredible season for Penn State with Cael Sanderson as head coach. The team built a perfect 14-0 dual meet record for the 2018-19 season. Among the season highlights: winning the Southern Scuffle title and breaking the tournament record in the process, as well as winning the Big Ten title by over 30 points.
At this year’s NCAAs in Pittsburgh, Penn State had clinched the team title hours before the finals, tallying 137.5 points, approximately 40 points ahead of second-place Ohio State. The Nittany Lions had a finalist in fully half of the finals matches … with three winning individual championships: Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal at 157 and 197 pounds, respectively (the third title for each), and Anthony Cassar winning his first national crown at 285.
To put Penn State’s on-the-mat performance into perspective: The program now has had 26 individuals win a total of 46 national championships, including 23 under Sanderson.
2019 InterMat Coach of the Year Voting Results
1st-5th-Place Votes: 9-7-5-3-1
Total Votes/(First-Place Votes)
1. Cael Sanderson, Penn State 49 (5)
2. Scott Goodale, Rutgers 42 (1)
3. Kevin Dresser, Iowa State 41 (1)
4. Brandon Eggum, Minnesota 20 (1)
5. Chris Ayres, Princeton 19
6. Tony Robie, Virginia Tech 15 (1)
7. Scott Moore, Lock Haven 12 (1)
8. Steve Costanzo, St. Cloud State 11
9. Doug Schwab, Northern Iowa 10
10. Sean Bormet, Michigan 9
11. Brian Smith, Missouri 7
12. Jim Moulsoff, Augsburg 6
13. Keith Gavin, Pitt 3
14. Tom Brands, Iowa 2
15. Chris Bono, Wisconsin 1
15. Glen Lanham, Duke 1
15. T.J. Miller, Loras 1
15. Tom Ryan, Ohio State 1
InterMat Coach of the Year Past Winners
2018: Cael Sanderson, Penn State
2017: Cael Sanderson, Penn State
2016: Cael Sanderson, Penn State
2015: Tom Ryan, Ohio State
2014: Tim Flynn, Edinboro and J Robinson, Minnesota
2013: John Smith, Oklahoma State
2012: Cael Sanderson, Penn State
2011: Mike Denney, Nebraska-Omaha
2010: Rob Koll, Cornell
2009: Tom Ryan, Ohio State
2008: Tom Ryan, Ohio State
2007: Cael Sanderson, Iowa State
2006: John Smith, Oklahoma State