Iowa men’s wrestling’s three-time national champion Spencer Lee medically forfeits from 2023 NCAA Championships medal round

Lee ends his Hawkeye career with a sixth-place finish at 125 pounds.


Ayrton Breckenridge

No. 4 seeded 125-pound Purdue’s Matt Ramos wrestles No. 1 seeded 125-pound Iowa’s Spencer Lee during session four of the NCAA Wrestling Championships at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. on Friday, March 17, 2023. Ramos defeated Lee by fall, 6:59.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

TULSA — Iowa men’s wrestling’s Spencer Lee suffered one of the biggest upsets in collegiate history on Friday night, as he was pinned with one second remaining in his match by Purdue’s Matt Ramos in the 125-pound 2023 NCAA Championship semifinals. The loss snapped Lee’s 58-match winning streak and was his first career loss at the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa men’s wrestling issued a statement on Saturday morning announcing that Lee will medically forfeit from the medal round, ending his Hawkeye career with a sixth-place finish at 125 pounds. The three-time national champion had surgery to repair both ACLs in January 2022 and returned in December 2022 in hopes to become Iowa’s first-ever four-time NCAA title winner.

Lee is one of three five-time All-Americans in program history, ending his collegiate career at 98-6. Lee said on Oct. 28, 2022, that when he first wrote down his career goals,  nine-time world champion and three-time Olympic gold medalist topped the list. 

Lee has not gotten the opportunity to compete internationally since he won his third age-group world championship in 2016 at age 17.

He was supposed to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which was pushed back to 2021 because of the pandemic. But with two torn ACLs, Lee decided to take that time to pursue alternative rehabs for his knees. 

Lee is hoping to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris — the home country of his mother, Cathy Lee, who was a judo wrestler and alternate for the Olympic Games in 1992.

But Spencer Lee doesn’t plan on leaving Iowa any time soon.  He said on March 13 that he is looking forward to taking on more of a mentorship role after this season and believes he can train for his future endeavors in Iowa City with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club while supporting his teammates that still have eligibility.