Lee’s early dominance key to Iowa’s success

Spencer Lee ended his match in the first period once again on Saturday, setting the tone for the Hawkeyes in their dual win over Nebraska.

Iowa%27s+125-pound+Spencer+Lee+wrestles+Nevraska%27s+Alex+Thomsen+during+a+wrestling+dual+meet+between+Iowa+and+Nebraska+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+Saturday%2C+Jan.+18%2C+2020.+Lee+won+by+technical+fall+in+2%3A56%2C+and+the+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Huskers%2C+26-6.+%28Shivansh+Ahuja%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Lee’s early dominance key to Iowa’s success

Iowa's 125-pound Spencer Lee wrestles Nevraska's Alex Thomsen during a wrestling dual meet between Iowa and Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. Lee won by technical fall in 2:56, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Huskers, 26-6. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's 125-pound Spencer Lee wrestles Nevraska's Alex Thomsen during a wrestling dual meet between Iowa and Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. Lee won by technical fall in 2:56, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Huskers, 26-6. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's 125-pound Spencer Lee wrestles Nevraska's Alex Thomsen during a wrestling dual meet between Iowa and Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. Lee won by technical fall in 2:56, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Huskers, 26-6. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Shivansh Ahuja

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's 125-pound Spencer Lee wrestles Nevraska's Alex Thomsen during a wrestling dual meet between Iowa and Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. Lee won by technical fall in 2:56, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Huskers, 26-6. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Austin Hanson, Assistant Sports Editor

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In sporting events of any kind, momentum is often something each team tries to gain and maintain. Wrestling is no exception, and the pursuit of momentum often drives teams to victory.

For the Hawkeyes, All-American Spencer Lee is perhaps the most predominant producer of momentum.

The reigning 125-pound national champion typically serves as the spark that ignites Iowa at the beginning of each dual. Lee is 9-0 this season, earning bonus points in each of his nine bouts.

The junior has only wrestled into the second period four times on the year.

“People joke about [not wrestling into the second period],” Lee said. “I don’t care. It’s just all about scoring points no matter how much time is up on the clock.

“I don’t care how much time is left. I’m the kind of guy if there’s ten seconds on the clock I’ve got time to turn that guy. Three seconds on the clock, I’ve got time to turn that guy. I’ve got time to takedown. I’ve got time to escape. [It’s] just about scoring points the whole match as hard as you can, as fast as you can. Score hard, score fast, score a lot, that’s kind of what we say.”

Lee’s relentlessness has earned him 46 team points for Iowa this season. The 19 bonus points Lee has given the Hawkeyes has propelled the team to a 4-0 record in the Big Ten and a 7-0 record overall.

The extra points Lee posts forces Hawkeye foes to rally from deficits as large as five or six points right out of the gate.

Nebraska’s Alex Thomsen was the latest wrestler Lee has taken down to give Iowa an early lead.

Lee defeated the redshirt freshman via technical fall, 18-0.

“I just kept my pace high,” Lee said. “I started off really, really slow, and I just wanted to keep improving.”

The Cornhuskers never fought back from the early deficit. The Hawkeyes won seven of the next nine matches following the 125-pound opener as Iowa defeated Nebraska, 26-6.

Lee was the only Hawkeye to put bonus points up on Saturday evening. Each of the ensuing nine matchups were decided by five points or less.

Nebraska provided Iowa with the toughest test it has seen this season. Iowa’s 26 points is the fewest the team has scored on the year.

“I think we were flat,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “We got down out of the tunnel too early from upstairs. There was just a lot of things. I’m not making excuses. We were flat. Nebraska went to Madison and they were flat, and you know what they were coming in here to do, you know it. They executed some strategy”

The road ahead does not get any easier for Lee and the Hawkeyes either. Three of Iowa’s next six opponents are ranked inside the NWCA’s top 15.

Regardless of schedule, the Hawkeyes are determined to cross the finish line at NCAA National Championships in March.

“This is January 18th,” Brands said. “We’re going on until March 21st. We’re building, we’re working, when I walk off that mat, there is a lot going through my mind.”

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