Spencer Lee will return to Iowa next season
Lee, top-ranked Hawkeye wrestlers head to St. Louis next week for NCAA Championships
By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa wrestling fans, rejoice. The most dominant wrestler in recent memory isn’t going anywhere.
Two-time national champion 125-pounder Spencer Lee said Thursday that he plans to use the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic to return to Iowa next season.
“What do you think I’m going to do?” Lee said. “I plan on coming back and competing for the University of Iowa next year and stay another year with my brothers. I think I owe it to them and I want to be a four-time national champ, but right now I’ve got to be three so we’re worried about that right now.
“No questions about four-timers, I won’t answer it. But three-times right now and then come back with my team and win another national title as a team as well because we’re going to win it this year.”
Lee’s quest for a third national title begins March 18 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Top-ranked Iowa is one of three schools sending all 10 wrestlers to the tournament and is widely considered the favorite to win its first national title since 2010.
Lee enters the tournament 7-0 on the season and has outscored his opponents 82-7.
The Murrysville, Pennsylvania, native was named the Dan Hodge Trophy winner last season after going 18-0 and outscoring his opponents 234-18.
Five of Lee’s victories have come by pin in the first period and he won the other two bouts by technical fall.
Coach Tom Brands said that, among other things, Lee’s mindset is what sets him apart from other wrestlers.
“You can talk about all the things that he is, but he’s not done yet,” Brands said. “He rises to the occasion time after time after time. He’s a tough guy, but more than he’s a unique-minded athlete. It’s a joy to have him in our room, in our program and it’s a joy to see his maturity and do leadership roles on a lot of different fronts. He’s become more of his own man. I think we all do as we get older, but he’s still got work to do and he knows that and he articulates that very well.”
The Hawkeyes enter the tournament with four No. 1 seeds in Lee, 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman, 165-pounder Alex Marinelli and 174-pounder Michael Kemerer.
All four wrestlers won Big Ten championships this season.
Iowa also has No. 4 seed Austin DeSanto at 133 pounds, and Kaleb Young, Jacob Warner and Tony Cassioppi are No. 5 seeds at 157, 197 and 285 pounds, respectively.
184-pounder Nelson Brands and 149-pounder Max Murin are No. 12 seeds.