Sanderson wins freestyle tournament

Jeff Stell

ISU wrestler Cael Sanderson added to his impressive r‚sum‚ by capturing a national title at the U.S. National Freestyle Wrestling Championships Sunday at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

Sanderson earned a 4-1 decision over Charles Burton in the 187.25 pound championship match. Burton is a 2000 Olympian and a former ISU assistant wrestling coach.

Sanderson, competing for the Sunkist Kids wrestling club, was named Outstanding Wrestler of the Meet.

“This feels great,” Sanderson said in a press release. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’m on pace for the trials and this makes it a heck of a lot easier. My strategy was just to win. It all worked out for me this time.”

Last month, Sanderson completed his third perfect season as a Cyclone, one in which he snapped former Cyclone great Dan Gable’s record for consecutive wins.

Sanderson is 119-0 and has three national titles at 184 pounds through his junior season.

“This is an awesome feeling,” Sanderson said. “I can’t compare this to the NCAA’s.”

Another Cyclone junior, three-time All-American Joe Heskett, also fared well. Heskett placed fourth at 167.5 after a 3-2 loss to 1995 NCAA champ Steve Marianetti of the New York Athletic Club.

ISU assistant coach Chris Bono reached the championship match at 152 pounds but was denied 6-3 by Ramico Blackmon. Bono was a three-time All-American for the Cyclones, winning a national title in 1996.

Other former Cyclones that placed were Zach Thompson and Cody Sanderson. Thompson placed fifth at 213.75 pounds while Sanderson finished seventh at 127.75 pounds.