Spencer Lee presented Dan Hodge Trophy

The 125-lbs. wrestler outscored his opponents 234-18 last season.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa wrestler Spencer Lee holds the Hodge Trophy with his father Larry and Iowa Wrestling Coach Tom Brands at Kinnick Stadium on January 5 2021. The Hodge Trophy is awarded to the best wrestler in the nation and Lee is one of three Hawkeyes to win the award.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

Over nine months after being named the winner of the 2020 Dan Hodge Trophy, Iowa’s Spencer Lee was presented the trophy on Tuesday at Kinnick Stadium.  

The trophy is given to the nation’s most dominant wrestler each season. Lee, who wrestles in the 125-pound weight class, earned 51 out of a possible 56 first-place votes for the award. 

“I never really thought about winning the Hodge Trophy,” said Lee after being presented with the trophy. “I pretty much only cared about winning four national titles.” 

Lee, who is a two-time national champion, said he is humbled to have won the Dan Hodge Trophy. In the 2019-20 season, Lee dominated his opponents by a score of 234-18 and won all 18 of his matches. 

“The Hodge Trophy, there’s no controversy on who the Hodge Trophy winner was in 2020,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “That shows the dominance. In other years there’s been maybe where somebody feels like they got left out. This one was without a doubt.” 

Mike Chapman, the founder of the Dan Hodge Trophy and Win Magazine, discussed the history behind the trophy before giving it to Lee. Hodge was one of the greatest American wrestlers of all time, as he went 46-0 during his career at Oklahoma and won three consecutive national titles. Hodge died in December at the age of 88.  

Chapman created the award as the equivalent to college football’s Heisman Trophy. The first Dan Hodge Trophy was awarded in 1995.  

“Spencer, you’re walking in hollowed footsteps,” Chapman said. “You’re one of three Hawkeyes [to win the Dan Hodge Trophy] in the greatest sports program I’ve ever seen in my 50 years of sports journalism with two of my favorite people in the history of wrestling running the show, Tom and [associate head coach] Terry Brands.”  

RELATED: Lee wins Dan Hodge Trophy

The other two Hawkeyes to win the award were Mark Ironside in 1998 and Brent Metcalf in 2008. 

Chapman made note of Lee being the last Dan Hodge Trophy winner when Hodge was alive.  

“And believe me, Dan Hodge knew who Spencer Lee was,” Chapman said. “The last time that I talked to him I told him Spencer had won it and he said, ‘What a great choice.’” 

Lee’s focus is on the Nebraska dual on Jan. 15 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which is the start of Iowa’s season. Until the NCAA Championships on March 18-20 in St. Louis, the entire Hawkeye schedule will consist of Big Ten opponents, with five duals and two meets with two other teams. The Big Ten Championships are March 6-7 at Penn State.  

“I mean, best conference in wrestling,” Lee said. “We’re going to have good competition. It’s going to be fun. We aren’t going to get the Cy-Hawk dual, or the Oklahoma State dual everyone looks forward to as well. But Big Ten duals are pretty exciting. It’s going to be fun. We’re ready to go. Doesn’t matter who we’re wrestling.”  

Lee didn’t have a chance to win his third NCAA Championship last season because the NCAA Championships were canceled, but he will have a chance to accomplish that this season. He is also still eligible to win four NCAA Championships because all winter sport athletes for this season have been granted an additional year of eligibility.  

“I promised [University of Iowa] President Bruce Harrald that I’d win him one,” Lee said. “I know he’s retiring soon. Hopefully, he doesn’t retire before March 20th so I can adhere to that promise that I made as a freshman. 

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