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Iowa 125-pound wrestler Spencer Lee attacks Minnesota's Ethan Lizak in their match Friday.

Chances of Iowa wrestler Spencer Lee winning 4 NCAA titles

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ANSWER: Only four wrestlers in NCAA history have won four national titles: Oklahoma State’s Pat Smith (1990-92, 1994), Iowa State’s Cael Sanderson (1999-2002), Cornell’s Kyle Dake (2010-13) and Ohio State’s Logan Stieber (2012-15). For Iowa wrestler Spencer Lee to even enter that discussion among wrestling fans shows he’s special.

Lee (27-2) dominated the competition en route to the 125-pound NCAA title on Saturday night. He became the first Iowa freshman since Lincoln McIlravy in 1993 and the first freshman since Matt McDonough in 2010 to win an individual championship. Lee won his first two matches by technical fall and then pinned Oklahoma State’s Nicholas Piccininni in the quarterfinals. Lee avenged a loss in the Big Ten Tournament to Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello and pinned him in 6 minutes, 5 seconds in the semifinals. In the championship, Lee beat previously unbeaten Nick Suriano of Rutgers 5-1. Suriano had not allowed a point in the tournament before facing Lee.

In its legendary history, Iowa has six wrestlers who have won three national titles. They include Ed Banach,  Tom Brands, Barry Davis, McIlravy, Joe Williams and Jim Zalesky. Banach and McIlravy wrestled in the finals all four years as did Duane Goldman, who finished second three times and won one title.

Can Lee reach Saturday night four times at Iowa? It’s definitely possible. Lee wrestled unattached in December while redshirting just to make sure his surgically repaired knee was capable of handling the competition. Coach Tom Brands pulled off Lee’s redshirt in January, and it took little time for the youngster to become a recognizable face in Iowa.

“He would have whipped my tail when I was his age,” Brands said after unleashing Lee. It was easy to scoff at the time, considering Brands finished fourth nationally as a freshman and then won three titles and an Olympics gold medal. In hindsight, Brands probably was right. The question is, can Lee surpass Brands’ Iowa career? If so, Lee will become a Saturday night staple.

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