The novel coronavirus has raced across the globe and has forced the world into self-isolation, self-quarantine, and social distancing. On the heels of unprecedented moves and citywide lockdowns, nearly all of the sporting landscape has been pushed to the background and suspended as well. Including, the 2021 Olympics games, which are now delayed until 2021.
But just because civilization has come to a screeching halt doesn’t mean the trophies do. This doesn’t mean we still can’t appreciate the NCAA wrestling season and all the great memories that it brought us.
Spencer Lee is a Hodge Trophy and AAU James E. Sullivan Awards finalist. 2020 will go down as the year our Iowa Hawkeyes were denied our 24 NCAA team title, but it doesn’t have to be the year our best wrestler was denied the best awards.
Lee has blasted his way through the season going 18-0 with a 94% bonus point rate. He’s racked up four pins, nine tech falls, three major decisions, one decision (which was a 7-point win), and a forfeit. He’s nearly averaged a tech fall for the run of the season.
Per Hawkcentral – There’s only been one other Hodge Trophy winner that has had a higher bonus point rate and that’s former ISU Cyclone and current Penn State head coach, Cael Sanderson – who had 38 bonus wins en route to a perfect 40-0 record in 2002. Had Lee been able to wrestle this post season and run the gauntlet at the NCAA’s, it’s possible he could’ve capped off his season with a similar percentage rate- going 23-0 with 22 bonus wins for a record setting 95.6% bonus rate.
This is all speculation of course. Lee still had to wrestle those matches and he would’ve had some tough ones in the semis and finals, but the potential was there and the whole world knows it.
Spencer Lee has brought us two amazing years that have resulted in two individual championships for him. This year, he would’ve brought home a third title and would have led us to our first team championship in a decade. The opportunities are gone, but these are things we know. These are things that everyone knows.
Lee and this Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling team has brought us so much, now it’s time for us to step up and do something for them.
We the people can swing the voting apparatus and help send our favorite wrestler home with the biggest and baddest and bestest trophies in the land. We can only fight the battles that are in front of us and this is a battle we can and should win.
The Hodge Trophy is the most prestigious trophy in wrestling and is equivalent to the Heisman’s Trophy in football. There’s only been two Hawkeyes to receive this honor: Mark Ironside in 1998 and Brent Metcalf in 2008.
The fan voting is only one portion of the total vote, but an important one. The winner of this will receive two first place votes, with the rest of the voting coming from former Hodge winners, national media, representatives of national wrestling organizations, and retired former college coaches. The winner will be announced March 30th at 12:00PM CT.
Lee currently has a commanding lead in the fan vote, but there’s no reason why we can’t make this a full-throttled route with your help.
The AAU James E. Sullivan Award is handed out the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. It’s been going on since 1930 and only four wrestlers have come out on top: John Smith (1990), Bruce Baumgartner (1995), Rulon Gardner (2000), and Kyle Snyder (2017). All four of them were Olympic and World Champs… that proves how highly regarded Lee is.
Voting is open now, but will close on March 30th at 11:59PM EST.
In all likelihood, Lee will never be a 4x NCAA champ. The Hawks won’t earn their team title and we won’t crown 10 All-Americans. Pat Lugo graduates without ever knowing if he could have climbed the hill. Michael Kemerer moves on without that rubber-match against Mark Hall and Alex Marinelli won’t get to defend his #1 ranking.
All the athletes everywhere have been denied their goals. Wrestling was denied its greatest moment in USA wrestling history and perhaps our Hawkeyes were hit hardest of all.
During dark and troubling times, it is moments like these that bring a sense of levity to the situation. Because of these events, next season is going to be even bigger, so let’s pay it forward. Go Vote.