Opinion | Spencer Lee won’t be Iowa’s only NCAA champion this year

Iowa could have as many as four individual national champions this year.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s 141-pound Jaydin Eierman grapples with Nebraska’s Chad Red, Jr. during a wrestling dual meet between No. 1 Iowa and No. 6 Nebraska at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. No. 1 Eierman defeated No. 7 Red by decision, 8-4, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 31-6.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Iowa will crown four individual national champions at the 2021-22 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Detroit, Michigan, this March. Seniors Spencer Lee, Alex Marinelli, Michael Kemerer, and Jaydin Eierman are the Hawkeyes I expect to earn gold hardware at nationals.

Spencer Lee

If you don’t already believe that Spencer Lee will collect yet another individual NCAA title this season, I don’t think there’s anything I will write that can change your mind. I guess you’re simply content with being wrong.

Lee has won the NCAA Championships’ 125-pound bracket every year he’s been at Iowa. The only time Lee didn’t claim an individual national title at 125 pounds was 2020. The 2019-20 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships were canceled because of COVID-19.

Lee has claimed two consecutive Hodge Trophies. The Hodge Trophy is given to the nation’s best collegiate wrestler on an annual basis.

Lee hasn’t lost a match since March 2019. Need I say more?

Jaydin Eierman

Now, here’s where I start believing in experience. Eierman, nicknamed “The Riddler” for his unorthodox style, is 25 years old.

The Missourian has amassed 12 wins and just one loss since he transferred to Iowa ahead of the 2020-21 season. Eierman’s only loss last season came to Penn State’s Nick Lee in the NCAA championships’ 141-pound finals.

Nick Lee defeated Eierman, 4-2, in sudden victory. Eierman beat Nick Lee in the 2021 Big Ten Championships.

Both Eierman and Nick Lee have returned to their respective schools. So, they’ll probably see each other again this season.

This year, I think Eierman will have the edge over Nick Lee on the national stage.

RELATED: Iowa men’s wrestling returns 10 starters for 2021-22

Alex Marinelli

Marinelli finally has the sauce he needs. And that sauce is the knowledge that this is truly his final season in a Hawkeye singlet. It’s now or never. The senior from Miamisburg, Ohio, has been crowned the Big Ten’s 165-pound champions for three straight seasons. Yet, he’s never wrestled his best at the NCAA Championships.

Marinelli’s been the top seed at his weight in the last three NCAA tournaments. He’s never finished better than sixth at nationals.

That’s going to change this year.

I don’t have too many statistics to support this claim, but I just have a feeling. Marinelli knows this is his last year of wrestling in the Black and Gold, and I think he’ll make the most of it. At Iowa wrestling media day, Marinelli likened wrestling for Tom Brands to a lottery ticket. I think he’ll win big this season.

Michael Kemerer

Seventh time will be the charm for Kemerer. The 174-pounder is entering year seven in Iowa City.

The almost-25-year-old Pennsylvanian has redshirted twice during his Iowa career. Once as a freshman and again 2018-19 because of knee and shoulder ailments.

The NCAA granted all its 2020 athletes an additional year of eligibility because of COVID-19. With two redshirts and a “COVID year,” Kemerer’s found a way to wrestle at Iowa for a long time.

He was the No. 1 seed at the NCAA championships last year. He won a Big Ten title before the national tournament began.

Like Eierman, Kemerer made it all the way to the NCAA Championship Finals. Kemerer was defeated by Penn State’s Carter Starocci. Kemerer had previously beaten Starocci in the Big Ten Championship Finals.

Starocci and Kemerer are both returning to the mat at the college level this season. So, we’ll find out if Kemerer’s lucky number is actually seven.

Facebook Comments