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Sanderson Becomes Second Wrestler To Win ESPY Award; Named "Best Male College Athlete"



Cael Sanderson became the second amateur wrestling to win an ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Award on Wednesday night, joining Rulon Gardner, who was named the "Male U.S. Olympic Athlete of the Year" in 2001. Sanderson won his award for "Best Male College Athlete". He was also nominated for "Best Male Athlete" and "Best Record-Breaking Performance", both of which were won by golfer Tiger Woods. "It's an honor just to be considered with some of these guys," Sanderson said after the ceremonies in Hollywood, Calif. "I was being mentioned with guys like Tiger Woods and Barry Bonds in front of a national audience, and that is really great for the sport of wrestling." Sanderson was nominated for the awards after his incredible collegiate career at Iowa State came to an end in March. He became the only college wrestler to finish his career undefeated and win four NCAA individual titles. In June, Sanderson earned a spot on the U.S. Freestyle World Team at 84 kg/185 lbs. Sanderson also broke numerous other NCAA records throughout his career. "This kind of puts a conclusion to my college career. Right now I am focusing on wrestling in the World Championships and just getting in that mindset. It would be kind of cool to someday be nominated for 'Male U.S. Olympic Athlete of the Year' because that would just mean I have achieved my goal of winning a gold medal," Sanderson said. Two other ESPY winners with wrestling backgrounds were also honored. Erik Weihenmayer won the ESPY for "Best Disabled Athlete". He became the first blind man to scale Mt. Everest last year. Weihenmayer is a former Connecticut high school wrestler and wrestling coach at a Country Day School in Phoenix, Ariz. He was awarded the first Medal of Courage, a National Wrestling Hall of Fame award presented annually to an athlete who has overcome great challenges. Jeremy Glick, also an honoree of the Medal of Courage from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, was one of four passengers of United Flight 93 that were honored with the ESPY's Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Glick, an all-state wrestler for Saddle River Day School in Northern, N.J., was aboard the airliner, bound from Newark, N.J. to San Francisco, Calif., that crashed in rural western Pennsylvania. Many have speculated that the passengers, including Glick, kept the hijackers from plunging the jet into a populated target during the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks. The 10th Annual ESPY Awards were held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. This year's awards were hosted by Samuel L. Jackson and featured 34 categories. Winners of ESPY Awards are voted on by the ESPY Awards Academy. The academy is comprised of nationally recognized print and broadcast sports journalists who are joined by a compilation of Hall of Fame athletes from each of the sports disciplines the ESPYs honor.
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