Disclaimer: I am no journalist, expert, or Jack Ryan-like analyst. I’m simply an overzealous wrestling fan that is way too eager for the season to start. Take everything I say with a block of salt. So let’s light this fuse and get going!
Also check out: 133lbs
BHGP Nation, the time is drawing nigh when our 10 greatest warriors will be called to arms to vanquish our enemies, conquer the NCAA landscape, and bring glory back to the legendary gates of Iowa City. Our leader emerged in March when he held the Hawkeye banner high above and shouted to the heaven’s in his best President Whitmore voice, “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on, we’re going to survive….”
Okay, okay, okay. My apologies, I’m watching action movies while writing. Two things that instantly get me trigger happy, worked up, and probably obnoxious. Luckily, my tolerant wife isn’t here to listen to my ramblings.
That leader is obviously Spencer Lee, our returning NCAA Overseer at 125lbs. Lee went on one of the greatest runs we’ve seen from a true freshman in recent memory and absolutely obliterated the field at the NCAA’s in March, earning 27.5 team points, a tournament high.
Looking back at his statistics from last year it’s easy to see how dominating he truly was. He missed the 1st seven duals of the season, debuted at the Midlands, and still finished with an impressive 22-2 record. With three full, healthy, seasons ahead of him he can, and should, eclipse 100 career dominating wins.
Though it is a smaller sample size, he lead the team in bonus points victories at 75% last season. If we remove his two medical forfeits he wrestled a total of 15 matches in the regular season before the B1G tourney, 11/15 were of the bonus point variety.
Now here’s where things get fun. When the competition got tougher, Spencer Lee got better. Beginning with the B1G tourney, he stepped onto the mat 9 more times going 8-1, with that lone loss coming to Nathan Tomasello (tOSU). After that loss he righted the ship and obliterated the field like a Michael Bay movie. Through the B1G’s and the NCAA’s, 7/8 of his wins were by bonus point. Including a revenge-filled pin over Nato in the semis. That is an absolutely staggering 87.5%. Oh, and only one of those was a major decision to Sebastian Riveria (NW). Everything else was either by tech or fall until he reached the finals.
Spencer is already ranked #1 heading into the season. As if that was ever in question. By all accounts, Lee has looked great this summer/ fall. The brace has stayed off and he’s presumably as healthy as a thoroughbred horse. He did not compete this year on the junior, senior, or otherwise freestyle circuit. Which tells me two things:
1: He’s 100% focused on this upcoming season.
2: He’s eliminated all distractions and is committed to the Hawkeye way.
I suppose I can combine those, but two sounds better than one. As with most collegiate sports, athletes make a big jump or slump going into their sophomore year and I cannot see the latter being a problem for Lee. He’s been in Carver all summer rolling around with Thomas Gilman, Cory Clark and his new buddies Austin DeSanto and Jason Renteria. I have to believe another off season in that room has made him bigger, stronger, and better all-around. Which is bad news bears for everyone else. And we love it. He’s completely bought into the program and knows exactly what needs to be done to get this team back to the top. Everyone on that roster is now following his lead.
Barring injury, there is no one else on the roster to challenge his supremacy. There’s a slim chance we could see Perez Perez, Justin Stickley or true freshman Cam Shaver dispel Lee if a rest is needed. But even that is unlikely. This is Spencer Lee’s barbecue, and it tastes good.
THE BOWLING PINS:
Here’s a quick look at what Lee could be facing this season (Flo rankings).
#16 Devin Schroder, Purdue: 11/24
#14 Connor Schram, LeHigh: 12/8
#10 Sean Russell, Minnesota: 1/13
#2 Nick Suriano*, Rutgers 1/18
#11 Travis Piotrowski, Illinois: 1/25
#3 Sebastian Rivera, Northwestern: 1/27
#6 Zeke Moisey, Nebraska: 2/3
#20 Connor Brown, Wisconsin: 2/17
#5 Nick Piccininni/ Daton Fix*, Oklahoma St: 2/24
*Right now we’re assuming Suriano is staying at 125lbs and Fix may go 133lbs.
With Nato graduating, Lee is the only returning champ in the 125lbs field.
#4 Ronnie Bresser(Oregon St) AA’d last year and is the only guy coming back into the fold that has beaten Lee. Oregon St. has yet to release their schedule, but I assume they’ll be at the Midlands. If Bresser is unlucky enough to run into Lee again, I can’t imagine him winning, let alone keeping his imminent demise to a decision. He’s good and should be respected, but that won’t keep Lee from having his way with him. That didn’t sound good…but then again it won’t be good.
#3 Sebastian Rivera (NW), who finished 6th last year, is also returning and should be noted for his heroic match in holding Lee to a 7-4 decision the 1st time they met. Then he should be appropriately remembered for his 0-12 bludgeoning in their sequel bout in the B1G’s. Lee showed growth by the time they met again. The talent gap is only widening.
#6 Zeke Moisey (Neb) has had a wonky career thus far. He was a two-time AA for West Virginia including a finals appearance in 2015. He’s battled injuries and transferred to Nebraska this off season. If healthy he’s a dangerous opponent, but one Lee should handle. The only time they could have faced off was at the Midlands. Lee medically forfeited out of the tourney.
Obviously, we can’t look past #2 Nick Suriano from Rutgers, but that’s also assuming he comes back to 125lbs. There are rumors circulating and taking hold that the NCAA finalist may move up to 133lbs. Similarly, we can say the same for #5 Nick Piccininni and 2017 Junior World Champ Daton Fix. Either way, whoever is there, Lee is going to face tough competition from Okie St.
Lee must come out of the gate swinging, because he’s going to face stiff competition from the get go and it won’t let up all season. He’s had a bullseye on his back since day 1 and it’s only getting bigger. Everybody wants to knock off the legend and ruin his dreams as a 4x NCAA champ. He’s clearly in the driver’s seat and needs to keep it full-throttled all season long.
There’s also a lot of chatter about his insane bonus potential and whether he can cap off the immaculate season with a 100% bonus rate. If Suriano/ Fix are at 125lbs the answer is, no. They’re too talented to get blown out of the water. But, that doesn’t mean he won’t be spotting Iowa 5 or 6pts to start nearly every dual. That’s a monster advantage and one that could lead to a 15-0 team record. For Lee, I’m foreseeing an 86% bonus to go along with an undefeated 29-0 season ending with his 2nd NCAA championship party in 2019.
Q: So Mr. Magic 8 Ball, will Spencer Lee tear em’ to shreds and win the Hodge Trophy?
A: Signs point to yes.
We’ll take it. Happy Hunting.