Spencer Lee collects pin in final home meet as No. 2 Iowa men’s wrestling defeats No. 6 Oklahoma State

In the Hawkeyes’ 28-7 victory over the Cowboys, the three-time national champion and four-time All-American pinned Oklahoma State’s Reece Witcraft in 51 seconds.


Matt Sindt

during a wrestling meet between No. 2 Iowa and No. 6 Oklahoma State in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday Feb. 19, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys, 28-7. (Matt Sindt/The Daily Iowan)

Matt McGowan, Sports Reporter

Iowa sixth-year senior Spencer Lee received simple advice prior to his final wrestling match at Carver-Hawkeye Arena: finish the way he started. 

“My dad texted me, ‘Start with a pin, end with a pin,’” Lee said in a press conference after the second-ranked Hawkeyes defeated sixth-ranked Oklahoma State, 28-7, on Sunday. “I didn’t even think about that. That’s cool.” 

On Jan. 5, 2018, Lee made his debut at Carver in the Hawkeyes’ 49-6 defeat of Michigan State. Facing off against the Spartans’ Rayvon Foley, Lee collected a pin just 46 seconds into the match. 

“I guess in my first match I hit a fireman’s [carry] to his back and kind of locked it up,” Lee said. “Just like takedowns in the back, looking for transitions, that’s just how we preach wrestling: score points and keep scoring points.” 

Five years, four All-American honors, and three national championships later, Lee pinned his final Carver opponent, the Cowboys’ Reece Witcraft, in 56 seconds to finish a perfect 26-0 at home. 

“I was going to run off the mat, business as usual kind of thing, and I kind of realized two, three steps before the mat ended that that was it,” Lee said. “That was the last time I was going to be on that mat ever … So I gave the little heart sign, thank all the fans for being there for me. It’s been awesome.”

After making a heart with his hands and gesturing to the crowd, Lee then pointed to the left thigh of his Hawkeye singlet, where “Iowa” was inscribed. 

“Spencer Lee is an ambassador, he’s a lifelong ambassador,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “And it’s not just his wrestling, it’s how he conveys his love for the program. He talks about Iowa athletics and the University of Iowa, he’s very respectful about that.” 

After a post-dual interview with the Big Ten Network, Lee was carried across the mat by fellow Iowa seniors Max Murin and Jacob Warner. During the match, Lee sang along to the jumbotron’s showing of Freddie Mercury’s iconic vocal warmup. 

“The most fun for me is cheering on my teammates on the side of the mat. A pretty good memory for me was us singing the ‘aaa oooh,’ Lee said. “I’ll never forget that, just us being goofballs, [Jacob] Warner starting that. That’s just how we are, we’re brothers, and we’ll always be brothers. Every single person who’s been my teammate, they’ve always been a brother to me and I’ll always be there for them.” 

Lee finished the regular season with a 15-0 record and never let go of his top ranking at 125 pounds. The two-time Big Ten Wrestler of the Year pinned seven opponents this year, including four who were ranked in the top 10 at the time of the duals. 

With his win against Witcraft, Lee has won 52 consecutive matches.

In two weeks, Lee and the Hawkeyes head to Ann Arbor for the Big Ten Championships on Mar. 4-5. Looking for his third-career Big Ten individual championship, Lee potentially has to face Princeton senior and second-ranked Patrick Glory, who is also undefeated on the season. 

“I didn’t really think about [Sunday being his my last match at Carver], to me it’s just another match,” Lee said. “I still don’t think it’s hit me yet, to be honest with you. The first thing I said off the mat was, ‘Big Tens.’ That’s how we focus as a program, just on to the next. Maybe one day I’ll think about it.”