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WRESTLING: Penn State's Cael Sanderson Named Coach of the Year

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InterMat tabbed Cael as wrestling's Coach of the Year.

Cael, Nico, and Cody before the NCAA semifinals
Cael, Nico, and Cody before the NCAA semifinals
Tony Rotundo

InterMat Wrestling named Cael Sanderson its national Coach of the Year after the Nittany Lions completed a perfect 16-0 regular season, and won the Southern ScuffleNational DualsBig Ten Championships, and NCAA National Championship.

Another way to write that would have been simply "everything".  Penn State won everything, all of the time, and, really, destroyed everyone they faced.

They outscored their regular season opponents 548 to 132.  They outscored Big Ten opponents 312 to 71.  They registered 423 takedowns in duals, while conceding just 105.  Said InterMat's Tom Franck:

What is remarkable is the extent to which Cael Sanderson gets his wrestlers to compete as he did -- creating angles, seeing not-obvious scoring opportunities and seizing them -- sometimes in creative ways. It is rare to see a Penn State wrestler get out-scrambled. They are always in shape, offensive-minded and compete in a way that is always more about wrestling than it is about brawling. In short, Cael Sanderson has developed a style that is not only successful, but is fun to watch and helps promote the sport of wrestling.

It's definitely fun to watch, and it is definitely offensive-minded.  But the "developed a style" part can be misleading.  The style is "score points", rather than particular techniques.  One of the beautiful things about Cael's approach is that each wrestler gets to be himself (so long as he's scoring points).  Consider the signature moves of Penn State's 2016 post season lineup:

  • Nico Megaludis - head inside to right ankle
  • Jordan Conaway - right handed high crotch
  • Jimmy Gulibon - snap down front headlock
  • Zain Retherford - body scissors power half
  • Jason Nolf - chain wrestling
  • Geno Morelli - power double
  • Bo Nickal - left underhook far knee
  • Matt McCutcheon - ankle pick
  • Morgan McIntosh - bow and arrow
  • Nick Nevills - snatch single

Ten wrestlers, ten different offensive moves.  All scoring moves welcome.  Whatever you do well, the Penn State staff will let you do it, and make it better.

That's unique.  Most of the top programs are known for a particular technique or approach.  Iowa for hand fighting / brawling.  Oklahoma State for John Smith's low single (and cutting weight, and backing up - at least outside of Stillwater).  Minnesota and Virginia Tech for old school fundamentals.  Missouri for being tough on top.

Penn State?  Score points.  Don't settle for a decision if you can get a major.  Don't settle for a major if you can get the tech.  Always Be Scoring.  Always Be Scoring.  It's pretty fun, and definitely worth another Coach of the Year award.