Franklin Regional grad Spencer Lee earns starting spot at Iowa
There has been a social media blitz by Iowa wrestling fans to “Free the Lee.”
Iowa coach Tom Brands was planning on red-shirting freshman Spencer Lee this season. The Franklin Regional graduate was recovering from knee surgery that prevented him from performing at 100 percent at the PIAA championships last March. It also contributed to him losing in the state final bout and kept him from becoming a four-time undefeated champion.
But after Lee's performance at the 55th annual Midlands tournament Friday and Saturday, according to Darren Miller of Hawk Talk Daily on hawkeyesports.com and Cody Goodwin of HAWKCentral.com, Lee will get his first varsity start when the Hawkeyes host to Michigan State on Friday.
Lee wrestled unattached at the Midlands in the 125-pound weight class, easily winning three matches before falling in the semifinals to Oregon State's Ronnie Bresser, 3-1. He defaulted to sixth place.
Earlier this season, Lee won the Northern Iowa Open unattached.
Lee told Miller: “It was a mutual decision. We thought it was the best thing for me — that's what the coaches at the University of Iowa are going to do. If they think it is best for me, then I have to be selfish and do what is best for me. It wasn't just for the team, but my hope is that I can help the team.”
Lee was a three-time PIAA Class AAA champion at Franklin Regional. He was denied a fourth state title in the 2017 finals when officials awarded Exeter Township Austin DeSanto, 6-5, a controversial takedown at the buzzer.
He also won numerous world freestyle titles.
Brands said of Lee: “He's dynamic. He's explosive. He can score points in a hurry. He's relentless in all positions. That's what we love. He could be the immediate future of that weight class.”
Lee (144-1) was the No. 1 overall recruit in 2017. He selected Iowa over Penn State.
He joined former Franklin Regional grad Michael Kemerer at Iowa. Kemerer won the 157-pound title at the Midlands by defeating Arizona State's Josh Shields, 5-2. Shields also is a Franklin Regional graduate. Kemerer is ranked No. 2 in the country by InterMat, Shields is No. 7.