As a wrestler at Iowa State University, Cael Sanderson earned his spot among the legends of the NCAA wrestling world with four individual NCAA championships and an undefeated record of 159-0 through four years of collegiate competition. This weekend, he elevated his status as a coach to similar heights when he coached the Penn State Nittany Lions to their fourth straight NCAA Division I wrestling team championship.

Sanderson’s success capped an evening that included 10 championship matches at the NCAA Division I level. Sanderson and the Penn State team were led to victory by senior standouts Ed Ruth and David Taylor, but the team was also aided by Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer, who defeated Dylan Ness. Ness was the last hope for Minnesota, who finished second in the team standings.

Championship Round Notes

The most entertaining match of the evening belonged to 125-pounders Jesse Delgado, representing Illinois, and Nahshon Garrett from Cornell. The two engaged in a fast-paced battle in which Garrett attempted a number of early takedowns. Delgado’s ability to elude Garrett in those early moments paid off in the end, when Delgado emerged up a point in a 3-2 decision.

Although Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer supplied the most points by any individual wrestler on the evening, it was Ohio State’s Logan Stieber who delivered the most dominant performance of the night with his ability to take down and control Virginia Tech’s Devin Carter, who appeared thoroughly frustrated by the match’s conclusion.

The most disappointing showing of the night, meanwhile, came from Minnesota’s Tony Nelson, who was benched for a month of the season after losing four matches in a six-match stretch. Nelson reportedly had been hampered by an injury during the season and appeared to have problems with his ankle during a losing effort against North Carolina State’s Nick Gwiazdowski. A two-time defending national champion, Nelson’s performance was a huge blow to Minnesota’s team championship aspirations.

MMA Prospect Watch

Not all wrestlers move on to the ranks of mixed martial arts fighting. Many of the men competing on Saturday night still have numerous years of college eligibility, and those who were making their final run at the collegiate level are just as likely to represent the United States in Olympic-level wrestling competition as they are to don the four-ounce gloves. However, several wrestlers in the competition stood above the rest in their potential for future success in an eight-sided cage.

Penn State’s Ed Ruth and David Taylor are USA Wrestling-bound, but their success in leading Penn State to four straight team titles speaks volumes of their talent on the wrestling mat.

In terms of athleticism, Missouri freshman J’Den Cox showed the strength and aggression in his win over Ohio State’s Nick Heflin that makes him a natural for MMA competition.

In terms of takedowns and ground control, Ohio State’s Logan Stieber could emerge as the next Ben Askren if he takes to the cage. Stieber, who claimed his third national title and still has a year of college eligibility remaining, smothered Virginia Tech’s Devin Carter on the mat in a fashion reminiscent to how Askren handles foes in the cage.

The flyweight division of the MMA world would certainly welcome two very active competitors like Jesse Delgado of Illinois and Nahshon Garrett of Cornell into its ranks. Delgado, who picked up his second national title, has the scrambling ability and speed to fit in with the fast-paced style of MMA’s 125ers, and Garrett doesn’t lag far behind.

Full Individual Results
125 pounds: Jesse Delgado (Illinois) def. Nahshon Garrett (Cornell). Decision, 3-2.
133 pounds: Tony Ramos (Iowa) def. Tyler Graff (Wisconsin). Tiebreaker-1, 3-1.
141 pounds: Logan Stieber (Ohio State) def. Devin Carter (Virginia Tech). Major Decision, 10-1.
149 pounds: Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) def. Joshua Kindig (Oklahoma State). Sudden Victory-1, 3-1.
157 pounds: Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) def. Dylan Ness (Minnesota). Major Decision, 13-4.
165 pounds: David Taylor (Penn State) def. Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma State). Decision, 6-0.
174 pounds: Chris Perry (Oklahoma State) def. Andrew Howe (Oklahoma). Decision, 4-0.
184 pounds: Ed Ruth (Penn State) def. Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland). Decision, 7-2.
197 pounds: J’Den Cox (Missouri) def. Nick Heflin (Ohio State). Decision, 2-1.
285 pounds: Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State) def. Tony Nelson (Minnesota). Decision, 4-2.

Top Five Team Results
1. Penn State – 109.5 points
2. Minnesota – 104 points
3. Oklahoma State – 96.5 points
4. Iowa – 78.5 points
5. Edinboro – 62 points