NEW YORK - MAY 05: Jake Varner of USA looks on in USA vs Russia freestyle wrestling during the 2011 "Beat The Street" Gala on May 5, 2011 in Times Square, New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Cael Sanderson didn’t come to Penn State just to wake a college program in eternal slumber, Sanderson had much larger plans to turn central Pennsylvania into a world-class wrestling training program. From elementary to Olympic from kids to adults, every level of wrestling would be taught by the Nittany Lion Wrestling club. Sunday another piece of that dream fell into place when Jake Varner, wrestling for the Nittany Lion Wrestling club and Cael Sanderson, won Olympic gold.
Jake Varner dreamed of winning Olympic wrestling gold when he watched Cael Sanderson do it in 2004. He fed off Sanderson's coaching tutelage at Iowa State and followed him to Penn State. He drilled with Sanderson before the Olympics. And he gave Sanderson a mighty hug Sunday after making his own climb to the top of the podium.
Return Penn State to the top of college wrestling. Check.
Train Olympic champions. Check.
Solidify your club as the premier training organization. Check.
Sanderson has accomplished almost everything he has set out to do when he left Iowa State to coach the Nittany Lions. Now he has another Olympic champion to help coach and groom young men to fulfill their wrestling dreams. Varner, already a coach for the Nittany Lion Wrestling club , will most likely return and coach alongside Sanderson to give the NLWC two Olympic gold medalists. But Varner’s career is only beginning, while coaching for the NLWC he will also continue training for the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. What's left for Sanderson? He's set himself lofty goals and accomplished most of them.
‘‘Still not sure I'm in his league, but it’s awesome to be coached by a guy like that,’’ Varner said of Sanderson, a gold medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics. ‘‘I owe him a lot. It means a lot to have him with me.’’
Penn State fans are hoping the next step is a third national championship in a row.
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