Cordel M. Andersen – B.A., Finance, 1986
As a four-time state wrestling champ at Preston High, Cordel Andersen envisioned himself succeeding in the sport at BYU, following his brother to Provo. But when Utah State’s charismatic wrestling coach stepped into the picture, the BYU dream was effectively blown out of the water. Long story short, Andersen’s pending induction into the Utah State University Athletics Hall of Fame is about five weeks away, indicating his decision to become an Aggie worked out pretty well. Now an insurance broker, he lives in the Salt Lake Valley. He credits Preston High wrestling Coach Laren Hansen for putting him on a competitive track when the two of them showed up at the same time at Preston, Cordel’s freshman year. He had done no wrestling before that year. His first love was basketball, but a broken arm in eighth grade put him behind in that sport and the next year his older brother talked him into going out for wrestling. After what he describes as a slow start that freshman year, he picked up momentum by midseason and didn’t lose again on the way to his first state championship. Three more titles followed. “I had a fortunate high school experience,” he said. Watching from a few miles away, Utah State head coach Bob Carlson could hardly ignore this kid’s resume, and he figured the young Andersen belonged in the Ags’ successful program. “Everybody who knows Coach Carlson knows he is a real people person,” Andersen said. “From the time of his first call to me, on a day I was out milking cows on our farm, he started winning me over. I was still leaning toward going to BYU, but after a few more visits with coach, I decided I was going to be an Aggie.” Carlson’s first persuasive selling point was that the Aggies had an opening at 126 pounds, Cordel’s competitive weight class. “He told me if I went to BYU, their best wrestler was at that weight.” Case closed. Andersen signed soon after. “I had such a great experience my first year, the team welcomed me. I immediately felt a part of it.” Help from 118-pounder Tracy Moore and 134-pounder Del Gardner, a pair of seniors who treated him like an equal, made a difference in his making the huge leap from high school competition to the collegiate level. He remembers winning about three quarters of his matches that year on a very good team. After an LDS Church mission, his sophomore year didn’t go as he hoped, with an injury and the time it took to get into wrestling shape. He survived it, then went on to enjoy two championship caliber years becoming, with Alfred Castro, the only two Aggies to earn All-American status twice. His last two years he twice finished sixth in the NCAA championships. His career record of 116-33 is the second best in school history. On Sept. 5, he joins USU’s 12th Hall of Fame class in ceremonies at the Riverwoods. Appropriately enough, Carlson, his coach, and Castro, his teammate, will be the first to welcome him. They are already among the current 81 individuals, and three teams, numbered in this exclusive club.