Iowa wrestler Spencer Lee proves he’s a national title contender
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Think we’re not going to be calling them upsets much longer
— Chris from out east (@cpeezee38) January 21, 2018
ANSWER: Iowa freshman Spencer Lee proved he’s a national title contender at 125 pounds after upsetting Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello, ranked No. 1 in the country, 3-2 in the opening match of a dual Sunday in Columbus, Ohio. Lee, who improves to 3-0 in Iowa’s lineup and 9-1 as both a Hawkeye and unattached wrestler, entered the day ranked sixth.
It was a strange match for Lee. Neither wrestler scored in the first period, and Tomasello chose down to start the second. Lee did a masterful job of riding out Tomasello for the full 2 minutes to put himself in a good position for riding time. In the third period, Lee escaped via optional start early in the third period. Tomasello then took down Lee, who quickly escaped to knot the score at 2-2. Lee thwarted multiple Tomasello attacks the rest of the match, picked up a point for riding and won 3-2.
“I learned that I can wrestle seven minutes, and I have to continue to keep on scoring points,” Lee said. “You let a match be that close at the end, he gets a takedown he wins the match. You’ve got to build your lead.
“That’s the first time I think I’ve ever won a match without a takedown in my life.”
While happy with the win, Iowa coach Tom Brands was emphatic Lee could have done more against Tomasello, who now has lost to three different Iowa wrestlers the last three years. Brands wants Lee to become more aggressive and said his young wrestler had opportunities to score more points throughout the match and possibly earn bonus team points.
“I think [Lee] learned something about himself,” Brands said. “Make that count on the scoreboard.”
The win took place on Tomasello’s senior night, which didn’t matter to Lee.
“Obviously I went out there to wrestle a match,” Lee said. “It didn’t matter that it was senior night and all that crap. I don’t care about that. All that matters is the guy in front of you and you’ve got to focus on wrestling your position.”
So what’s next for Lee?
“You move forward. It’s over,” he said. “It doesn’t matter now. You’ve got to focus on getting better, scoring points. Like I always say, it’s not even scoring points; it’s wrestling the whole match.”
“I think Spencer Lee beating the No. 1 guy in America is a step at that weight class,” Brands said.
Lee entered the season with plenty of fanfare, and that will continue now that he’s pinned one wrestler who was 18-3, topped the No. 6-ranked wrestler from Oklahoma State 10-5 and then outfought top-ranked Tomasello 3-2. Consider Lee one of the nation’s best at 125 pounds and a bona fide national title contender.
Read more Question of the Day answers about the Iowa Hawkeyes here.