Spencer Lee set to wrestle collegiately and internationally in 2019-20

Iowa’s reigning 125-pound national champion Spencer Lee will wrestle for Iowa on his way to the Olympic games.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s Spencer Lee answers questions to the press during Iowa wrestling’s media day in Mt. Vernon on Wednesday, October 30, 2019.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

Spencer Lee’s sights are set on an NCAA team title and an Olympic gold medal. In 2020, he’ll go for both.

As was with his second NCAA title in 2019, his team plays a big factor in his journey to the Olympics and was part of the reason he chose not to take an Olympic redshirt this year.

“This is a group effort,” Lee said. “No one ever makes the Olympic team on their own. It’s not possible, unless you’re just not human in my opinion. You’ve got to have a coach, you’ve got to have a support network, you’ve got to have people who believe in you and love you and want the best for you.”

Iowa enters the season ranked No. 2 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll, behind Penn State. This season is also a big one for the Hawkeyes, with the Nittany Lions, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State – the top three team finishers at NCAAs earlier this year – all visiting Carver-Hawkeye Arena in 2020.

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“Obviously I want to help the team out and help win a national title, but I have to focus on myself first,” Lee said. “I think wrestling during the season is a great idea and helps keep me accountable and in shape and ready to rock and roll.”

The expectations surrounding this season has been heightened in years past, with two-time All-American Michael Kemerer returning from injury and six 2019 All-Americans back in Iowa’s lineup.

With the massive expectations comes excitement for Iowa’s entire team.

“I just think that we have such a great team bond. We’re all very confident in each other, and we all want the best for each other,” Lee said. “I think it’s more so, not saying the other teams didn’t have that kind of a bond, but this team is different. We’re all going to try and raise each other’s levels to the best that it can be, and the goal like it is every year is to win a team title, so that’s the plan.”

With Lee’s plan to juggle both collegiate wresting and the training and meets he needs to go through to qualify in April for the Olympics, the big meets against NCAA Tournament-caliber teams will serve two purposes. By participating, Lee both helps the team move forward in its search for a team title and puts in valuable training time for the Olympic team.

“We’re going to need him, and the thing is his best preparation for what he’s trying to accomplish in Tokyo, he knows that it’s through those seven-minute matches,” head coach Tom Brands said. “Not because the styles are similar or not similar, however you want to get into that debate, but because there’s a certain amount of toughness that goes into an extra minute and riding time and overtime. So, you’ve got to be conditioned to wrestle 11-, 12-minute matches, and that helps Spencer Lee. That’s what he needs.”

As of right now, his exact schedule is up in the air, but he’ll play a big role in the team come postseason and in some of the big meets.

“I’m just going to wrestle when they tell me to, and that’s pretty much it,” Lee said.

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