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World title provides 'best feeling' for Franklin Regional grappler Lee

| Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Shortly after becoming one of the top wrestlers in the world, Spencer Lee experienced “the best feeling in the world.”

Lee, a rising sophomore at Franklin Regional, won a gold medal at the FILA Cadet World Championships earlier this month in Snina, Slovakia.

“The best feeling in the world is to hear your country's national anthem going off,” Lee said. “I cried, almost. That feeling of, ‘You did it, you're done — you're the world champion,' is something I've always wanted because I didn't do it last year.”

Lee put on a dominant performance in the 50-kg (110-pound) weight class, not giving up a single point in his four bouts. He defeated Afgan Khashalov of Azerbaijan, 11-0, in the final match, notching five takedowns.

For the entire tournament, Lee recorded three wins by technical fall and one by fall.

“These guys are really good,” Lee said. “They're the best in the world. I didn't want to give them a chance to get their offense going. I just wanted to smash them, and I just wanted to end it. I wanted to show them why I'm the best, but I wanted to do it in good fashion and quick. (I wanted to) get them off the mat.”

This year's title came after Lee finished in seventh place at the world championships last summer.

He said he'd “never been more disappointed” than after last summer's championships.

“That's two losses,” he said. “It's terrible.”

The experience from last summer helped Lee this time around, he said, as he knew some of the wrestlers and coaches he was going up against.

Lee said he wanted to wrestle more aggressively this time around to maximize the amount of rest time he had between matches. He said the longest time between matches is 20 minutes.

“It was so fast that some of these guys who are wrestling entire matches are dying,” he said. “I just wanted to get on the mat and off the mat. Boom, boom.”

Lee will now begin preparing for the Super 32 Challenge national wrestling tournament, which will take place in Greensboro, N.C., in November. He won a championship at the tournament last year.

He also has one more year of eligibility remaining at the Cadet World Championships and is already thinking about defending his title.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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