When Penn State Head Wrestling Coach Cael Sanderson competed at the Northeast Regional shortly after leading the Nittany Lions to the National Championship this Spring, it was assumed to be a one-time thing--a payoff of a friendly bet with his team. At the time, he said it was 'just for fun.' Yesterday Intermat confirmed what Flowrestling reported on Sunday (h/t to OlderBudweiser in the fanshots): that Sanderson will be competing again, this time in the World Team Trials in Oklahoma City this weekend. The World Team Trials is an awesome collection of national champions, Olympians and World medalists competing for the right to represent the United States at the 2011 World Championships in Istanbul this September.
The WTT is set up as a small challenge tournament on Saturday morning, with the winner advancing to face the champion of the U.S. Open in a best-of-three finals on Saturday night. Sanderson is competing in a loaded 84kg (185.5lb) weight class that includes the top 6 finishers from April's U.S. Open in Cleveland (runner-up and 2008 Pitt national champion Keith Gavin, 4th place finisher and 2010 Missouri national champion Max Askren, to name a few) and 2011 174-pound Iowa State national champion Jon Reader. Oh, it also includes Penn State's 2011 184-pound champion, Quentin Wright.This will be only the second time Sanderson, now 31, has competed since he retired after winning Gold in Athens in 2004, but whispers out of Penn State's Lorenzo Wrestling Room have indicated he's stayed in tip-top shape the entire time. He hasn't commented publicly yet on why he's deemed this an appropriate time for a come-back, so we'll go ahead and speculate. Maybe he's competing to keep Quentin from qualifying for an Olympic Redshirt, thereby assuring he'll be on the mats for Penn State this upcoming season. Not that the other competition at this weight class isn't capable; it should be very interesting to see how Quentin fares against this field this weekend. More likely--and more common to a wrestler's mentality--is he thinks he's still the baddest mofo around and wants to test it to see if that's still true.
As long as we're talking comeback stories and old guys testing themselves against the best, there's another weight class worth paying special attention to this weekend: 66kg / 145.5. Nittany Lion Wrestling Club wrestler, Teyon Ware (2003 & 2005 national champ at Oklahoma) defeated all comers at the U.S. Open, despite being seeded eighth. Among those he defeated en route to the championship were Iowa stud Brent Metcalf in the semis and 38-year-old Pennsylvania legend Cary Kolat in the finals, both in the mix this weekend. Also set to compete in this class on Saturday are current Nittany Lions Andrew Long and Andrew Alton. Should be very interesting.
Sad tears go out to BSD Mike, who's in Oklahoma City at present, but is scheduled to leave tomorrow, just before all the good action heats up. Intermat informs that takedownradio.com will be broadcasting the audio of the event. Check in there for updates.