Iowa wrestling’s Spencer Lee wins second-straight Hodge Trophy

For the second year in a row, Iowa wrestling’s 125-pound Spencer Lee has won the Dan Hodge Trophy.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa wrestler Spencer Lee holds the Hodge Trophy with his father, Larry at Kinnick Stadium on Jan. 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.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

For the second-straight year, Iowa wrestling’s Spencer Lee has won the Dan Hodge Trophy. The award has been presented annually to the nation’s most dominant wrestler since 1995.

Brent Metcalf and Mark Ironside are the only other Hawkeyes to win the award. Metcalf did so in 2008, preceded by Ironside in 1998.

Lee shares the 27th iteration of the Hodge Trophy with Golden Gopher heavyweight Gable Steveson. The award has only been split twice in its history. In 2001, Iowa State’s Cael Sanderson and Simpson College’s Nick Ackerman were both named Hodge Trophy recipients.

“I think [Steveson and I] both understand what we’re doing and how we do it is something we earned ourselves and how hard it was and what we go through to be where we’re at,” Lee said. “He’s an incredible athlete, incredible person. I wish him luck in the future in all his future endeavors. He’s gonna be super successful in anything that he does, whether he fights, plays football, or goes to the WWE. Who knows what that guy can do? The sky’s the limit for that guy. I’m honored to have known him, and to have the relationship I have with him. I wish him luck. I think he’s gonna be an Olympic gold medalist this summer, and you guys can quote me on that.”

Lee finished the 2021 season 12-0, scoring bonus points in 11 of his matches. Five of Lee’s 12 bouts ended via first-period fall, and three others ended via first-period technical fall.

Arizona State’s Brandon Courtney was the only wrestler that did not allow Lee to score bonus points. The pair wrestled in the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship finals.

Lee defeated Courtney, 7-0, to win this year’s national title. On the tournament, Lee outscored his opponents, 59-8.

The Murrysville, Pennsylvania, native wrestled the entirety of the 2021 NCAA Championships on a torn ACL.

On the season, Lee outscored his opponents, 141-15, and his 91.6 bonus-point percentage was tops in the country.

Lee is currently riding a 35-match win streak that has seen him outscore his opponents, 432-42.

Steveson was 17-0 in 2020-21, claiming a national title at heavyweight. Steveson has won 32-straight collegiate wrestling matches.

The winner of the Hodge Trophy is determined by the Hodge Trophy Voting Committee — made up of former winners, retired college coaches, and national media members.

Wrestlers can also win a fan vote for five additional first-place votes.

Overall record, number of pins, dominance, quality of competition, past credentials, sportsmanship, citizenship, and heart make up the primary and secondary criteria for the Hodge Trophy.

“It’s, yeah, heart and all these criteria, but you know what, roll them all up in a little ball, and you know what, put a name on that ball — Spencer Lee,” Hawkeye head coach Tom Brands said. “So, whatever he’s about, that’s what this award represents. I mean, that’s what this award represents. I can’t say it any different, any better, any more concise, any more complimentary of a guy who earned an award that was something that’s kinda — there’s speculation there. You know, there’s a vote, there’s a committee. You know what, [the winner] was clear. It’s clear as a bell, clear as day, clear as light, clear as whatever you want to say. And congratulate Gable Steveson also.”

With the 2021 Hodge Trophy now in his pocket, Lee becomes just the fifth wrestler to win the award multiple times.

“It’s an honor to win this award, and to win it a second time” Lee said. “I’m pleased, I’m happy, and I’m honored to have won it with someone like Gable Steveson.”

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