Photo: Sam Janicki

Lee joining Penn State coaching staff

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson has named former Nittany Lion great Nick Lee as assistant coach, rounding out his coaching staff as the 2024-25 season nears. Lee, who has been in State College training with the Penn State Regional Training Center/Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, recently finished as runner-up at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in April.

Lee's Penn State resume as among the all-time best in the school's storied wrestling history. He became Penn State's first five-time All-Americans in 2022 when he won his second straight individual NCAA National Championship at 141 pounds in Detroit. Lee, who was part of three NCAA team championship squads for Penn State, tallied five podium finishes for Sanderson's squad. He finished 5th in 2018, 5th in 2019, was a first team All-American when 2020's tournament was cancelled, then won NCAA titles at 141 in 2021 and 2022.

The Evansville, Ind., native went 32-7 as a true freshman with five pins, seven technical falls and 12 majors. He followed that up with a 31-4 sophomore campaign with six pins, five techs and 13 majors. Lee went 20-1 with five falls, seven techs and four majors in 2020 when the NCAA tournament was cancelled. He posted a 13-1 mark with four techs and five majors, winning his first NCAA title in St. Louis in the shortened 2021 season and capped off his elite career with a perfect 22-0 run to a second NCAA crown in 2022, with two pins, four techs and six majors. Lee ended his NCAA career with 118-13 overall record with 18 falls, 27 techs and 40 majors. He was a Big Ten Champion in 2022 and collected 226 dual meet points over the course of a career that saw him post a 55-2 dual meet record.

Lee was a four-time National Wrestling Coaches Association First Team National All-Academic Selection, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten winner, a second team CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2021 and was a 2022 Hodge Trophy Award Finalist, placing third.

In addition to his runner-up finish at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trails, Lee's freestyle accomplishments are mounting as well. He earned his third spot on the United States National Team at 65 kg this season and was a member of 2023 U.S. World Team. Lee was the 2023 U.S. Open Champion and the 2023 Final X Champion (earning a spot on the U.S. World Team).

Penn State Wrestling's stature among all NCAA sports continues to grow as it is coming off winning its 11th NCAA Championship in the last 13 events. Since 2011, and all under Sanderson, Penn State has 11 team titles, winning almost 85 percent of team championships in that span. The Nittany Lions have 38 individual NCAA crowns, 56 NCAA finalists, own a gaudy 56-8 record (87.5 percent) in the national semifinals, are the only team in the nation to win at least one NCAA title at each weight in the last decade and the only team in NCAA history to have two athletes win a fourth NCAA title in the same season.