MINNEAPOLIS – Zach Sanders has been promoted to assistant coach, Minnesota wrestling head coach Brandon Eggum announced Thursday.
Sanders has spent the past six seasons as the team’s volunteer assistant coach, working primarily with the team’s lightweights. Including his four years as an administrative assistant, he’s been a member of the wrestling staff for over 10 seasons.
“I have given a lot of time and energy to the program because of the relationships I treasure from within the program,” Sanders said. “I have turned down a lot of opportunities over the years because this is where I want to be. Minnesota Wrestling is what I’m passionate about.”
During his tenure, he’s helped nine wrestlers at 125, 133 and 141 lbs., earn 14 All-America honors. In addition, 28 wrestlers at those weight classes have qualified for the NCAA Championships, highlighted by Ethan Lizak’s runner-up finish in 2017. Meanwhile, Chris Dardanes was Big Ten champion at 133 lbs., in 2015.
“Zach is one of the most accomplished wrestlers in state and program history,” Eggum said. “He has been instrumental to our program during his 17 years as an athlete, mentor and volunteer coach. We are excited to reward his dedication and passion for Gopher Wrestling as we elevate him to assistant coach.”
Sanders’ time on the Minnesota staff comes after a highly successful career with the Golden Gophers. In 2012, Sanders became the seventh four-time All-American in Gopher history with a third-place finish in the 125-pound division at the NCAA Championships. He finished his career ranked sixth on the Gophers’ all-time wins list with a record of 134-27.
Sanders was ranked as high as No. 1 nationally during his senior season. He was named Team MVP for the second year in a row after going 32-4. Sanders took second at the Big Ten Championships, his best finish following two consecutive third-place showings.
Sanders finished sixth at the NCAA Tournament as a freshman before finishing fifth his next two years. He was named to the Amateur Wrestling News All-Rookie Team and voted both Most Outstanding Freshman and Most Exciting Wrestler by his teammates in 2009. Sanders was also an Academic All-Big Ten honoree during his career.
Following the end of his senior season, Sanders competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials in freestyle wrestling. Sanders has represented USA Wrestling abroad numerous times, including the 2019 World Cup. Sanders has qualified for the World Team Trials nearly 10 times in his career.