Cael Sanderson is a former folkstyle and freestyle wrestler. As a high school wrestler, Sanderson was a four-time UHSAA state champion (1994–97), like his brother Cody, and compiled a record of 127 wins and 3 losses.
As a wrestler, he won an Olympic Gold medal and was undefeated in four years of college wrestling at Iowa State University (ISU) (159–0), becoming a four-time NCAA Division I champion (1999–2002). He is the only wrestler in NCAA Division I history to go undefeated in official matches with more than 100 wins. Sports Illustrated named his college career as the second most impressive college sports feat behind the setting of four world records by Jesse Owens in a single hour at the 1935 Big Ten track and field conference championship meet. Sanderson was a three-time Dan Hodge Trophy winner (equivalent to the Heisman Trophy), being the first to win the award multiple times and the only person to win it three times. He holds the longest win-streak across all NCAA divisions. All of this combined, makes him the most accomplished collegiate wrestler in the history of the sport.
In 2017, Sanderson was inducted into the ISU Hall of Fame. As of 2021, Sanderson is the current head coach of Penn State University's wrestling team.