By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – A second Hodge Trophy win is an honor for Iowa wrestler Spencer Lee.
But for Lee, the trophy is a bit of a consolation prize to Lee’s ultimate goal – an Olympic gold medal.
That goal is put on hold now as Lee announced earlier this week that he will not compete at the Olympic Trials to recover from a torn ACL.
“It’s my main dream,” Lee said. “And to have it taken away from me based on my own decision is pretty hard. But I do know that that’s what is best for me and it’s the decision that we came to. I believe in our entire staff as a whole and their decision is final. It’s the best decision for me, I agree with them and I also made the decision myself. It was my decision ultimately if I wanted to compete and I wouldn’t be if I thought it was in my best interest.”
Lee and Minnesota heavyweight Gable Steveson shared the trophy. It is just the second time in the 27-year history of the award that two wrestlers have shared the honor.
The Hodge Trophy is presented annually to the nation’s most dominant college wrestler.
Lee did not say whether he will have surgery on the injured knee immediately. He previously injured the ACL in his other knee in high school.
“We’re taking everything day-by-day,” Lee said. “We’re going to do what’s best for me, whatever that decision may be. But right now, I have my own opinions and they have their own opinions as well. But we’re doing what’s best for me. Right now, I’m getting ready to work out after this. That’s the plan, that’s all I care about.”
Despite the injury, Lee won his third 125-pound national title this season and was a big part in Iowa winning its first national team title since 2010.
Lee, a native of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, was 12-0 in 2021, scoring bonus points in 11 matches and recording five first-period falls. He outscored his 12 opponents 141-15 and his 91.6 bonus-point percentage led the country.
Lee finished the season on a 35-match win streak in which he has outscored his opponents 432-42.
“There’s list one ingredient that’s rolled into one ball, and that ball is Spencer Lee,” coach Tom Brands said. “All of the things that you can talk about, about goodness and people, he embodies that. As a competitor, it’s OK that you’re a ferocious competitor. It’s OK, but when you step off the mat you’ve got to handle yourself a certain way. He does that.”