Townsend Saunders set to be inducted into Arizona State Hall of Fame

By Jeremy Hawkes ASU Sports Information | Sept. 30, 2011, 1:14 p.m. (ET)
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona State University Sports Hall of Fame will welcome 10 former student-athletes to its ranks Saturday, Oct. 1 at halftime of the ASU-Oregon State game. The list include former Sun Devil wrestler Townsend Saunders, who becomes the 16th ASU Wrestler since the inaugural Hall of Fame class to be inducted.

Saunders, an Arizona native who wrestled with Ortiz at ASU for two seasons (1988-89, 1989-90), was a two-time All-American and a two-time Pac-10 champion in a Sun Devil uniform. With a 77-9 overall record, Saunders is tied for fourth in ASU history with an .895 winning percentage. He is also tied for fourth on ASU's list for dual victories in a season (20 in 1989-90) and is tied for seventh on ASU's single-season overall victories list (40 in 1988-89).

Saunders, who like Ortiz wrestled for ASU's legendary coach Bobby Douglas, was a redshirt on the 1988 NCAA championship team. The following season at ASU he was the NCAA runner-up at 142 pounds after winning the Pac-10 title. In his senior campaign, Saunders won his second straight conference crown, this time at 150 pounds, en route to a third place NCAA finish.

Following his outstanding ASU career, Saunders went on to establish himself on the international stage. He was a two-time Olympian, competing in 1992 and 1996, including a silver medal winning performance in '96.

He was a two-time gold medalist at the Pan American Games in 1991 and 1995, and in 1994 earned a gold medal at the Goodwill Games. Saunders also won two U.S. Open national championship titles at 68 kilograms (149.5 pounds).

A member of the board of directors of U.S.A. Wrestling, Saunders earned his undergraduate degree in sociology from ASU in 1990 and his MBA at the University of Phoenix in October of 2000. He transferred to ASU after wrestling two years at Cal State Bakersfield where he was an NCAA Div. II champion.

In addition to his work on the wrestling stage, Saunders dabbled in the field of mixed martial arts, competing at UFC 16 and UFC 18.

After his collegiate career, Saunders returned to ASU as an assistant coach under Thom Ortiz while also serving as executive director and coach for the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club. Saunders now works as an Admissions Representative for the Education Management Corporation.

In 1985, Saunders graduated from Torrance High School in Southern California where he was a prep state runner-up.

Saunders' wife Patricia is a four-time world champion wrestler with the Sunkist Kids and is competing in the 2001 World Championships in September. They have two children, daughter Tassia (6) and son Townsend III (4).