Lee ready for rematch with Rivera

No. 2 Spencer Lee will get a second chance at No. 1 Sebastian Rivera as the Hawkeyes travel to Evanston to face Northwestern.

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Lee ready for rematch with Rivera

Iowa's 125-pound Spencer Lee walks off the mat after defeating Purdue's Luke Welch during Session 2 of the NCAAs Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Iowa's 125-pound Spencer Lee walks off the mat after defeating Purdue's Luke Welch during Session 2 of the NCAAs Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Ben Allan Smith

Iowa's 125-pound Spencer Lee walks off the mat after defeating Purdue's Luke Welch during Session 2 of the NCAAs Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Ben Allan Smith

Ben Allan Smith

Iowa's 125-pound Spencer Lee walks off the mat after defeating Purdue's Luke Welch during Session 2 of the NCAAs Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

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Going into the 2018 Midlands Championships, Iowa’s Spencer Lee was the favored 125-pounder.

But rankings only mean so much, and in the championship match, Lee fell to Northwestern’s second-seeded Sebastian Rivera. Rivera shocked the crowd, and the Hawkeye gave up his No. 1 national ranking to the Wildcat.

But Lee will have a second chance against Rivera and could reclaim his top-seeded spot when the Hawkeyes travel to Evanston, Illinois, on Jan. 27 to face Northwestern.

At Midlands, Rivera tallied 4 technical falls before stepping on the mat to wrestle Lee for first.

“That match is a good example of just not getting ready to go,” Lee said. “He was ready to go, and he wrestled hard. He’s a great opponent. He’s always going to wrestle a good hard match against everyone he wrestles.”

RELATED: Hawkeye wrestling handles Rutgers, 30-6

Rivera posted 3 takedowns on Lee and won, 7-3.

“There are a lot of different things that go into losing or even winning,” Lee said. “He was a better wrestler that day, a better man that day.”

Rivera has a record of 15-0, registering 2 pins, 7 technical falls, and 2 major decisions.

The 125-pound Wildcat has won three matches against top-15 opponents. He beat No. 13 Ronnie Bresser and Lee by decision and pinned No. 12 Zeke Moisey on Jan. 6 in Northwestern’s dual against No. 9 Nebraska.

In comparison, Lee is 11-1 with 2 pins, 6 technical falls, and a major decision.

Iowa’s 125-pounder has also registered three wins against top-15 opponents. Lee has beaten Princeton’s Patrick Glory twice — once on a technical fall and the other on a decision.

When the Hawkeyes traveled to Minneapolis to face No. 7 Minnesota on Jan. 13, Lee defeated No. 6 Sean Russell, 4-0.

Lee’s loss to Rivera at Midlands wasn’t caused by his slipping into complacency. He doesn’t expect his competition to let him push them around, but it has fueled him to work even harder in training.

“Spencer, his mindset is a lot different,” 165-pounder Alex Marinelli said. “He’s approaching matches a lot different. He treats each match like it’s the biggest one now — not that he didn’t do that before, but it’s more evident now. In practice, he wants to get better, and he knows that he can.”

The 2018 national champion is ready to wrestle another skilled opponent and looks at this matchup just like any other.  

“You want the best of everyone you wrestle,” Lee said. “That’s why you wrestle. It’s a combat sport, and you don’t want to go out there and just go through the motions. You want it to be a fighting battle because everyone here wants to go out there to fight a good, hard match.”

However, as Lee often says, the next match is the biggest one. So before Lee gets a second shot at Riviera this season, he will step on the mat with No. 15 Travis Piotrowski on Friday when the Hawkeyes face No. 19 Illinois.