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Remember the Wrestler: Eli Sanders, Columbus Jct.



Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My brother Luke.


Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?

Brother wrestled til’ he tore up his knee, I believe his Junior year. Just getting ready to get my son into wrestling. He’s 5 and loves it.


What were your youth results? Any rivals there? I placed as a 7th grader an 8th grader.

Don’t recall what place.


What was your record in HS?

Over 100 wins, around 30 losses.


How did you place at state every year?

DNQ, DNQ, Qualifier, 1st


What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?

My Junior year I actually quit wrestling. Was so tired of cutting weight that it wasn’t fun anymore. Only lasted a day though, my brother, Coach Plein and Siegel talked me back very quickly


How would you describe your wrestling style?

Very “blue collar” coach Plein’s words. Pretty average from my feet and in the bottom position. I was best in the top position


Who was your most influential coach? Did Siegle and Plein’s styles complement each other pretty well?

My brother Luke definitely was the most influential. I wouldn’t have went back my Junior year if it wasn’t for him. Coach Plein, Siegel and Milder also played a huge role in my wrestling career and without them I would not have reached the goals I had. Coach Siegel an Plein’s styles definitely complemented each other, I’m very sure that’s why CJ had the success that we did.


What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?

My Junior year, getting rode out to end the match at State. If I won I would have placed, but couldn’t pull through


Was your team competitive in HS/college?

Yes, very competitive. My Freshman year, 1996 we were Dual Team State Champs. Sophomore year, 1997 we were Traditional Team Champs. My junior year 1998, we were 2nd at Traditional and 1st at Team State. My Senior  year 1999, we were 2nd again at Traditional and 1st again at Team Duals.


Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?

Wow, tough question there. Growing up in the Columbus wrestling room I got to see a lot of great wrestlers and I’m not sure I could narrow it down to just one. But a few that I looked up to would be my brother Luke, Randy Pugh, JD Pugh, Jason Payne, Britt Marolf, Bobby Forseen, Eric Lee and Rob Hoback. I’m sure
I’m missing several but these guys I definitely looked up to. Mostly because I think they all beat the shit out of me at some point in my life.


What was your best wrestling memory/accomplishment? 

Winning state as a senior.


If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?

Definitely would be how terrible I was with cutting weight an eating terribly. Also would go to college and wrestle if I had the chance again.


Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?



What other sports did you play?

Baseball and football.


What are your favorite sports teams?

Hawkeyes, Stl Cardinals and Detroit Lions


What are your hobbies?

Driving one of my 3 kids to practice, games and tournaments takes up most of my time. Also enjoy boating an fishing.


How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?

Definitely have the same work ethic in anything I do today, and I’m a competitor so don’t like losing.


What do you do now?

I am a Project Manager for Summit Companies in Iowa City.


Are you still involved with wrestling?

Have not been the last few years but starting to get my son involved slowly.


Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Work harder than the next guy, eat healthy and have fun.


Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?

I did when I was much younger. Don’t think it would happen again.


Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?

I will never forget the people I practiced and competed with. We have memories together that will last a lifetime.


Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.

My Junior and Senior years were very tough on me mentally and physically. There were times when I dreaded going to the wrestling room. But after my last match my Senior year I bawled my eyes out knowing that I would probably wouldn’t step on the mat again. And I have missed it ever since



{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Joni Allen December 13, 2019, 4:33 pm

    How inspiring. I remember him wrestling. E very wrestler needs to read this post. Now I understand a little more why your teams were all so successful!!!

  • Aunt Kat February 20, 2020, 6:15 am

    Oh what a great daddy, nephew, fisherman this guy is. I so love him bunches..
    Aunt “Kacky” ps… will you be teaching your son ,Easton, how to construct “pot pie cars”?

  • Aunt Kat February 20, 2020, 10:37 am

    I fondly remember the many times when Missy and I came to my sister ‘s and kids home. We would have to step over Luke and Eli, cause they were going through wrestling routines!
    I so love my nephews. They are both outstanding devoted Dads…

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