116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Iowa has returned to the top of college wrestling.
The Hawkeyes' accomplishment will deliver some satisfaction to supporters who have craved this moment for a long time.
'It's been 11 years since a real important trophy's been in Iowa City and this team, those 35 guys back in that wrestling room, these 10 guys, this coaching staff and administration brought a trophy back that's important to our fan base,' Iowa Coach Tom Brands said about the program's 24th national team title.
Spencer Lee put the finishing touches on the top-ranked Hawkeyes' ascension back to the top of college wrestling. He became Iowa's seventh three-time national champion and Iowa hoisted its first team title since 2010 at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Saturday night at Enterprise Center.
Iowa State also got in on the title bandwagon thanks to the winning effort of David Carr, who became the 50th Cyclone to earn gold.
Lee has been the heart and soul of Iowa's re-emergence as a national leader. His heart showed Saturday night, beating Arizona State's third-seeded Brandon Courtney, 7-0, for the 125-pound title on an ACL tear that occurred about 10 days ago.
Lee said he didn't wrestle leading up to the tournament, but had three-hour workouts to be ready. Doctors were shocked at what he willed himself to do and that he could compete. Lee didn't like to discuss it.
'Tough it out,' said Lee, who still plans to compete at the upcoming Olympic Team Trials. 'It doesn't matter. No excuses.'
Lee had stated a team title was coming. The team accomplishment was as big of a goal as his own title. He also had last year's teammates, who didn't get to compete, on his mind.
'We do our job as individuals and the team titles come,' Lee said. 'I do this for the guys who missed out. They missed out on being national champs. I'm sad about it but I'm thankful for the NCAA allowing this to happen.'
'So, thanks very much for letting us get back what was ours.'
Lee joins Ed Banach (1980-81, 1983), Barry Davis (1982-83, 1985), Jim Zalesky (1982-84), current head coach Tom Brands (1990-92), Lincoln McIlravy (1993-94, 1997) and Joe Williams (1996-98) as three-time national titlists at Iowa.
'I do my job,' Lee said. 'That's it. I just go out there and wrestle my hardest and I score points for seven minutes or more if needed.
'I won three. Awesome. Good for me. We won the team title. Awesome. That's what we came here to do. This is what I wanted. This is what I've been training my whole life and now worry about what's next.'
Forty years ago, Carr's father, Nate, won his first of three national championships for Iowa State. Now, the younger Carr has one of his own. Likely, more to come.
'I told him when I decided to come to Iowa State I wanted to come here, bring back the program and break all of his goals while I'm at it,' Carr said. 'That's a big goal.'
Carr blanked Rider's Jesse Dellavecchia, 4-0, in the 157 final, becoming the first Cyclones titlist since Kyven Gadson won the 197-pound title here in 2015. He capped an impressive tournament with two major decisions and three hard-fought matches.
'David Carr is definitely special,' Iowa State Coach Kevin Dresser said. 'I thought he had a tremendous week.'
Carr nearly scored a takedown in the first but it remained scoreless. He connected in the second, getting a takedown after an escape for a 3-0 edge.
'It was awesome to get that takedown,' Carr said. 'I wanted to get it in the first. That was the game plan. Just making adjustments. I felt like a double leg was there and it was.'
Carr added a point for riding time. Time expired and Carr began the celebration, which included a back flip that was met by a tackle from assistant coach Brent Metcalf. The display was almost a re-enactment of the end of Metcalf's loss to Darrion Caldwell in the 2009 finals in this arena.
'It was fun,' Carr said with a big grin. 'Just have that moment with my coach. He's pushed me a lot this year and he's one of the reasons why I'm at this big stage and winning.'
Dresser also got a kick out of the post-match production.
'These guys spend a lot of time working together in the mornings, so I guess they haven't just been working on wrestling, they've been working on some theatrics,' Dresser said. 'Those two kind of share a same goofy brain. It was a good thing for them.'
Lee was one of three Hawkeyes in the finals but the only one to capture gold. Iowa's Jaydin Eierman (141) and 174-pounder Michael Kemerer, both top seeds, were forced to settle for silver. Both fell to Penn State foes in rematches of the Big Ten finals.
Jaydin Eierman recorded his fourth All-America performance, reaching the finals for the first time after getting third, fourth and fifth at Missouri. Eierman faced No. 2 Nick Lee, who managed a third-period takedown and converted an inside trip in sudden victory-1 for a 4-2 decision.
Kemerer and third-seeded Carter Starocci had a similar result. Both exchanged escapes in regulation with Kemerer fending off close calls in the first and third periods. Starocci was able to drop in on a double-leg and finished, covering Kemerer's hips for a takedown and 3-1 win in sudden victory-1.
'There were some guys really hurting, but are also team-oriented enough, there's real peer joy in celebrating with Spencer,' Brands said. 'Spencer Lee healed a lot of hearts on our team that are very close friends and locker-room mates. That's important. Good job.'
The Hawkeyes finished with seven All-Americans, bringing the program's all-time total to 352.
The Hawkeyes tallied 129 points, beating runner-up Penn State by 15.5. Oklahoma State was third with 99.5. Iowa State tied Rutgers for 13th with 37.5 and Cyclones heavyweight Gannon Gremmel placed fifth.
This marks the fourth national title in Brands' 15-year tenure, adding to three straight crowns from 2008-10.
'I think it puts in context the work we had to do,' Brands said. 'How far we were off.
'Our fan base has craved this. This isn't automatic. This was earned.'
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