At the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri, former Franklin Regional alum, Spencer Lee, did what he always does – win.
Saturday night, Lee’s run to his third individual 125-pound national title helped the Iowa Hawkeyes to its 24th NCAA Division I Wrestling national championship in program history, the fourth of the Tom Brands era, and their first since 2010.
Iowa finished the team race with 129 points, 15.5 in front of second-place Penn State.
Lee defeated Arizona State’s Brandon Courtney, 7-0 in the finals to claim the 125-pound crown, the third of his career at the weight. He scored four points in the second period from an escape, caution point and takedown, and added another takedown in the third to go along with one minute, 44 seconds of riding time. He was 5-0 in the tournament, outscoring his opponents, 59-8. His seven-point margin of victory was the largest of any of the 10 championships matches. He won once by technical fall and three more times by major decision just to reach the final.
“I go out there and wrestle my hardest and I score points for seven minutes or more if needed,” Lee said to HawkeyeSports.com following his finals victory. “I won three (titles), awesome. Good for me. We won the team title, awesome. That’s what we came here to do. This is what I wanted and this is what I’ve been training for my whole life. Now we worry about what’s next. That’s all that matters.”
Lee, who becomes the first three-time champ for the Hawks since Joe Williams in 1998 and the seventh in Iowa history, was one of three Hawkeyes in the finals and one of seven to finish the tournament with All-America honors. Seniors Jaydin Eierman and Michael Kemerer, who is also a former Franklin Regional product, both dropped overtime decisions in their respective matches. Still, Iowa was able to secure the 24th team title in program history Saturday afternoon in the medal round.
Unfortunately, the celebratory festivities were marred by Lee’s post-finals interview which revealed that he won the title in spite of battling through a severe injury, one he sustained less than 10 days prior: Another torn anterior cruciate ligament. With that, Lee has now torn both his left ACL and right ACL throughout his college career.
— NCAA Wrestling (@ncaawrestling) March 21, 2021
Despite the injury, Lee still plans to take part in the Olympic Trials, which are now just two weeks away, April 2-3, in Fort Worth, Texas. The event, will determine the six members of the men’s U.S. freestyle team, who will represent their country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics which are set for later this summer. The action will unfold at Dickies Arena, a brand-new world-class arena. Lee will be competing in a very talented 57 kilogram bracket.