Sanderson repeats as InterMat Coach of the Year

Cael Sanderson lifts Bo Nickal after the NCAA finals match at 184 pounds (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

Penn State head wrestling coach Cael Sanderson has been named 2018 InterMat Coach of the Year, the amateur wrestling website announced Thursday.

It is the fifth InterMat Coach of the Year honor for Sanderson in the 13-year history of the annual award. The 2004 Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler who was a four-time NCAA champ for Iowa State has won four InterMat coaching awards while at the helm of the Nittany Lions (2012, 2016, 2017 and now 2018) … along with Coach of the Year honors for Sanderson when he headed up the Iowa State program in 2007. The other two college coaches who have been named Coach of the Year by InterMat more than once are Oklahoma State's John Smith (twice, in 2006 and 2013) and Ohio State's Tom Ryan (three times, in 2008, 2009 and 2015).

Presented each year since 2006 to the best collegiate wrestling coach in all divisions, the award is based exclusively on the balloting 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 four of the ten first-place ballots for a total of 64 votes to propel him into first place in the voting. In second place was Pat Popolizio of North Carolina State, who earned two first-place votes for a total of 45 points. Close behind Popolizio with 42 points was Michigan's Joe McFarland; the long-time Wolverine coach who recently announced his retirement got two first-place votes. Chris Bono, who took South Dakota State to historic new heights during the 2017-18 season (including the team's first individual NCAA champ in Seth Gross at 133 pounds), got one first-place vote for a total of 24 points to put in him in fifth place in the overall balloting … while Lock Haven's Scott Moore also received one first-place vote for a total of 12 points, placing him eighth in the overall point tally.

During the 2017-2018 season, Cael Norman Sanderson continued to build on what some are referring to as the Penn State dynasty, guiding the team to a perfect 13-0 dual-meet record. The Nittany Lions claimed their seventh team title in eight seasons at the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Five of his wrestlers found themselves in the finals … with four leaving Cleveland with individual titles: 2018 InterMat Wrestler of the Year Zain Retherford at 149 pounds; Jason Nolf at 157; Vincenzo Joseph at 165; and Bo Nickal winning the 184-pound championship.

2018 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 64 (4)
2. Pat Popolizio, North Carolina State 45 (2)
3. Joe McFarland, Michigan 42 (2)
4. Tom Ryan, Ohio State 25
5. Chris Bono, South Dakota State 24 (1)
6. Tom Brands, Iowa 18
7. Steve Costanzo, St. Cloud State 13
8. Scott Moore, Lock Haven 12 (1)
9. Mark Branch, Wyoming, 3
9. Eric Keller, Wartburg, 3
10. Pat Santoro, Lehigh 1

InterMat Coach of the Year Past Winners:
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


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