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Spencer Lee talks a lot about the Olympics and freestyle during his Hodge Trophy media conference

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | April 06, 2020, 11:09 a.m. (ET)

Spencer Lee battles Nathan Tomasello in the finals of the Senior Freestyle Nationals in December. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

The big news in college wrestling last week was the announcement that Spencer Lee of Iowa was named the winner of the Dan Hodge Trophy, the top award given in college men’s wrestling.

In a media teleconference organized by the University of Iowa, Lee answered numerous questions about his undefeated junior senior, which was cut short by the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Div. I Championships in Minneapolis due to COVID-19. Lee was honest, informative and interesting during the teleconference, explaining his thoughts about what happened to both him and the top-ranked Hawkeye program, which both lost the opportunity to win the national title due to the virus.

But throughout his press conference, either based upon a specific question or unsolicited, Lee also talked often about the Olympic Games and his freestyle wrestling career. As the reigning U.S. Senior Open champion at 57 kg and a three-time age-group World champion, Lee is a legitimate contender to make the U.S. Olympic Team.

Here is what Spencer Lee had to say specifically about the Olympics and freestyle:

Question about how what areas has he grown most, and what areas he can reach a higher level next year
Spencer Lee
: I showed some people that I can wrestle from anywhere. I’m not just a top guy. I want people to know that freestyle is my main game, what I enjoy the most. I love folkstyle, too, but people have preferences, and that’s my preference. I was able to listen to my coaches a little bit more this year and trust in what they say in the corner. That was a big difference for me. I am excited for the next time I can compete, whenever that is.

Question about what the last two of three weeks were like for him on an emotional rollercoaster
Spencer Lee:
It was a little difficult. For me, there was the Olympic Trials, and it was like, get ready to go. Those get postponed, so it was kinda like having a lull. You are like, so what do we do now? Well, let’s keep training. You can’t do anything face-to-face. It kind of stunk. You can’t really be wrestling. Carver is locked up. You gotta do what you gotta do. Mental imagery, running. You do what is suggested, based upon what you are allowed to do from the university. Next thing you know, the Olympics are postponed. So, now what? Will the Trials be postponed? I am kind of in this thing, where I don’t know what to do right now. I am going day by day. That is the best thing for me. It is a little hard to swallow. This was going to be a big year for me, in my mind. A three-time national champ, I was hoping to make the Olympic team and try to win an Olympic gold medal, win the Hodge. A lot of things. I got one of them, I guess, so there is something to be positive about. It was a little hard. You take what you can, be proud of it, happy about it and move on.

Question about the Olympic dates pushed back a year, and how will that affect what he does next year for college
Spencer Lee:
I am going to do the same thing. I probably won’t take an Olympic redshirt and will try help my team again. It is the best thing for me as an athlete and as a competitor. Achieve more, and get through that grueling college season. It’s the best thing for me. I don’t regret it at all.

Question about if he does a lot of film study, and how much of that film study is freestyle?
Spencer Lee:
Are you asking about watching my opponents? I don’t really watch my opponents. I never really have. I watch old wrestlers, like Fadzaev or Saitiev, Kudukhov, Otarsultanov, light weight and middle weight Russian World and Olympic champions. I’ve been watching Tom and Terry Brands. I like watching how they competed and continued to always go forward. All those guys are high-point scorers. That is kind of what I do. I enjoy it.

Question about whether he would attempt to compete in the U23 World Championships
Spencer Lee:
I don’t know if that thing will happen. No idea. I will just do what is best for me, and if my coaches figure it out that it is best for me, I will be there. At least I will try to be there.