Breakfast for a 4 time champion

Jeremy Gustafson

It’s not every day you find out you’re getting a job and becoming the first collegiate wrestler ever to make the cover of a Wheaties box.

Of course, you’re not Cael Sanderson, either.

If you were, you would have already met President Bush and been honored by the Iowa House and Senate – not to mention the U.S. Congress.

You would have members of the pep band, cheerleaders, media and a healthy crowd applauding you at 10:30 in the morning on a Wednesday. And your own bobblehead.

Oh, and your collegiate record would be an unprecedented 159-0. You would have four national championships and three Dan Hodge trophies.

But you don’t.

Not you.

Not Dan Gable.


Except of course, Cael.

So will the real Cael Sanderson please stand up . right next to the giant replica of your very own Wheaties box which will be distributed in Iowa and Utah starting within the next couple weeks.

“This is a tremendous honor,” says Sanderson.

You know he means it; he wouldn’t say it if he didn’t. “I’m pretty pleased.”

Then there’s the job.

ISU athletic director Bruce Van De Velde announced Sanderson would be an administrative assistant to the athletic department, meaning that the greatest wrestler ever won’t be traveling east like Gable did when he left to coach at the University of Iowa in 1977. He won two national titles at Iowa State in 1968 and 1969.

While Sanderson is not a coach at Iowa State, “he will be around our wrestling student-athletes, our recruits and he’ll be a big influence on our wrestling program,” Van De Velde says. “And hopefully someday coaching is in his future.”

Sanderson’s salary has not been determined yet.

ISU head coach Bobby Douglas is elated to have Sanderson stay in Ames.

“His presence in our wrestling room and as a representative of our program can’t be underplayed,” Douglas says. “He is already a legend.”

Sanderson will be involved in community relations, fund-raising and administrative responsibilities, allowing him to train in the wrestling room toward his main goal – the Olympics.

“I think his No. 1 goal right now is becoming a world champion and an Olympic gold medalist,” Van De Velde says.

And his job will give him the flexibility to do just that. Coming off the U.S. National Freestyle championships last weekend, Sanderson will get married this weekend, and focus on the U.S. World Team Trials in Minnesota in June.

But there were other offers.

“I really considered them heavily,” Sanderson says. “I just wanted to be in the best situation to reach my goals. There were coaching jobs. People were willing just to pay me to be basically just associated with their university.”

This was all too flattering to Sanderson, whose humility is rivaled only by his greatness.

“Wherever I ended up I wanted to do as much for them – or more – than they were doing for me,” he says.

That won’t be too hard for Sanderson.

Who knows, maybe he’ll win Olympic gold and grace yet another Wheaties box.

He can add that to his collection.

He has boxes with Walter Payton and Michael Jordan on the cover in his closet at home – if his mom hasn’t thrown them away.

But did he ever eat Wheaties?

“I ate Wheaties growing up,” Sanderson says. “Throw some raspberries on them and some sugar . they’re pretty good.”

Hey, he’s only human. Just like you.