March 19, 2022
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Q. Winning one national championship is quite an accomplishment for most teams. You had five in one night, four last year. You've had nine guys in the Finals last two years, every one of them have won. What does that mean to you and your coaching staff?
CAEL SANDERSON: Well, we're a team but we're made up of individuals. So we just want to see our kids, same thing I say every time, we want them to be happy and reach their goals when they come to Penn State.
Our job is to help give them, like I said yesterday, just give them the resources and whatever we can do to help them be the best they can be. When it works out for them that's great. It doesn't most of the time. So when it does, it's a special thing.
Q. There have been nights like this in the past where you've said it's hard to enjoy it because a couple people didn't maybe reach their goals. All five reached their goals. Are you going to allow yourself to enjoy this for a certain amount of time before the next thing comes up?
CAEL SANDERSON: That's the way my mind works. I'm always thinking ahead. I'm really happy for these guys. I'm really at peace. But yeah I think there's always things we can do better and so it's ongoing challenge.
Q. Maybe not just Max Dean but anyone who does it when they jump into Casey's or your arms could you describe what's that like for you guys?
CAEL SANDERSON: Like I said, it's seeing them happy and I mean they just work hard. And you love your guys. You know that the other teams love their guys too. And so it's just, I don't know. It's a big deal. Obviously your heart's kind of with the other people, too, because when we lose, losing's hard and it stinks. And you feel bad for the other people, but you're obviously super happy for your kids.
And it is just a sport. But just like anything in life, but just it is important. And sorry I'm rambling. I'm just trying to answer your question.
Q. You have a lot of different personalities on your team, obviously, and a lot of talented guys. We had Carter in here earlier and he's probably one of the most confident wrestlers in all of college. And you had a guy in Max Dean who gave us phenomenal quotes and he's really humble on the podium. How do you get each of your guys ready to be successful on the highest stage?
CAEL SANDERSON: We just work with them the best we can as individuals. And I don't know if Carter told you he broke his hand the end of January. It was a deal where he needed surgery, needs surgery, but he decided to just rehab it and let it rip.
So there's always adversity all the way up and down. That's how life works. And obviously that just kind of usually brings your strength out, sharpens the senses and brings some clarity.
But a lot of great kids. A lot of different personalities, kids from a lot of different backgrounds. That's what makes it fun. We have a lot of similarities.
Q. 20 years ago you ended your career undefeated. Would you mind reflecting on that moment and what this tournament means to you?
CAEL SANDERSON: You mean just the NCAA Tournament in general? I love this tournament. I love folkstyle wrestling.
I think it just represents the things that I value, at least, hard work; just you get knocked down, get back up, gotta earn your escape.
If you lay on your belly, you're going to be there a long time. Nobody is going to come rescue.
But I love folkstyle. It's fun because there's a lot of passion and the universities are following their programs. And it's a great tournament, the energy here.
I told our guys, this is the most fun wrestling event in the world every year. And they think it's the Olympics, the world championships. Obviously that's more prestigious, obviously, but this is, as a team, competing as a team, always, just adds a different element.
I grew up, my dad was a high school wrestling coach. Team was always everything. My family around me was always everything. I think you get to display that in college athletics, and specifically in college wrestling because you compete as an individual but you're competing as a team.
When the kids compete as a team, they always do better individually. That's just the way eternity works.
Q. Aaron obviously had a big win tonight coming back from what happened at Big Ten. How much time did you work with him and what were some of the things you wanted to work with him on?
CAEL SANDERSON: Very little. He knew what he needed to do. He made some adjustments and wrestled great. Great opponent, obviously.
I mean, there's so many great wrestlers in this tournament. Such a razor thin fine line between winning and losing all the way through the bracket. A lot of great competitors, great teams and coaches and everything.
Q. A lot of your guys have said that they're going to war with their brothers, and that word keeps coming up, "my brothers," "my brothers." Talk about the culture you've helped build and sustain at Penn State?
CAEL SANDERSON: Culture is obviously everything. You want a stronger culture. I think these guys care about each other and they compete as individuals. But winning as a team is a lot more fun. You go in as an individual but your team doesn't do well as well it's just a different experience.
So I mean we just have a great group of kids and they're competitors. They step up in these big moments and they did this weekend.
Q. Is Greg okay? Because he didn't wrestle this morning for third and fourth. I just want to make sure?
CAEL SANDERSON: Glad you brought that up. It was looking like he wasn't going to wrestle at all. And he knew and he saw that he was a head-to-head with the team that we were competing with for the championship. And so he laced them up and went out and competed and wrestled great. So he was a little banged up and he just got tough and went out and competed.
Q. One other thing, you got a few seniors that are going to be done after this year. What do you say to them because they've meant a lot to the program?
CAEL SANDERSON: Good job. Right? Relationships continue on, right? You just get the time that you're allotted and you use it. Sometimes you take advantage of it. Sometimes you don't. It's all just experience. But when your time is up you move on to the next challenge.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports