The success Penn State Wrestling has seen in the past decade plus can be attributed to several factors. But, none come even close to the No. 1 reason.
Penn State wrestling has Cael Sanderson as its head coach.
Through his 14 year tenure leading the Nittany Lions, the Penn State faithful have seen some incredible things inside Rec Hall, they’ve seen amazing feats at away dual meets, and they’ve witnessed greatness on the biggest stages in both the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships.
Just take a look at the insane accomplishments Cael Sanderson has already amassed:
9 Big Ten Dual Meet Titles
7 Big Ten Championships
34 National Champions (record tying five winners in both 2017 and 2022)
5 NCAA Tournament Outstanding Wrestlers
5 Hodge Trophy Winners
10 NCAA Championships
But, the biggest question everyone in the nation, and especially Tom Ryan, ask themselves every single day is “How does he do it?”.
Few people are better equipped to answer this question than Penn State Wrestling legend, and UFC phenom, Bo Nickal.
“I think that Coach Cael is such a unique person,” Nickal told NittanyCentral, during an exclusive wide-ranging conversation. “And his values and morals and character are something that I really look up do a lot.
“Obviously, his accomplishments are incredible but I think that his standard that he holds himself too is super high and everything that he preaches to us as athletes, he lives out himself and it’s very consistent, the message, and it’s very unique.”
At this point I think it’s safe to say Nickal knows a thing or two about what makes someone a special athlete or coach.
But, what separates Cael from the pack might surprise some people.
“I think a lot of people, coaches specifically,” Nickal added. “Maybe focus on different things and he doesn’t really worry so much and focus too much on winning and results he’s more about our attitude our effort and that’s I think what makes him different.”
Attitude = Altitude
As to why Coach Sanderson is able to churn out championship wrestlers at a staggering pace, Nickal answered this simply, “And, he’s been able to get the most out of his athletes that way and, you know, I think everybody just respects him a whole lot obviously because of accomplishments but more so because of his consistency.”
Respect and consistency.
And as they say “The proof is in the pudding”, which can both sum up my waistline as well as what Penn State Wrestling has done to the rest of the nation.
Bo Nickal is now a perfect 5-0 following his 38 second KO of Val Woodburn in UFC 290, the Nittany Lions are in search of their third straight NCAA team title.
The Penn State roster is loaded with talent, Cael Sanderson and company have been scorching the recruiting trail, and the Penn State Wrestling machine is full steam ahead towards the next season and beyond!