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Spencer Lee electrifies Carver-Hawkeye Arena with pin in Iowa varsity debut
IOWA CITY – Forty-six seconds.
The highly-anticipated debut of freshman Spencer Lee that was promoted and publicized heavily during the week lasted less than a minute.
None of the 8,486 fans in attendance sounded like they felt cheated by his brief appearance and a meet that was just as quick.
The crowd erupted when Lee made short work of Rayvon Foley, recording a pin in 46 seconds in a 49-6 dual victory for the seventh-ranked Hawkeyes over Michigan State Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
'I'm just glad I get to compete in front of the best fans in the world and the country,” Lee said. 'I'm just super happy to be a Hawkeye. Just honored to have the right to start as an Iowa Hawkeye.”
Lee admitted he suffered some butterflies before the match, experiencing a longtime dream of competing here.
He opened with a quick pace and wasted little time attacking Foley. After a quick series, Lee was able to drop Foley to his side, getting a takedown and transitioning into an immediate turn. He was just fine with a quick and effective performance, instead of a longer display for the fans.
'Coaches always tell you to capitalize on what's there,” Lee said. 'It was there so I just went for it.”
Lee's first impression of the CHA crowd was a deafening cheer after a pin in a dual he watched in seventh grade. This time, he was the source and recipient of a loud outburst from the Hawkeye faithful.
'It was kind of cool being in the middle of it,” Lee said. 'That was pretty awesome and hope for more in the future.”
Foley, also a true freshman, entered the night with an 18-3 record. Lee dominated a solid opponent and didn't just handle a slouch or reserve.
'Spencer Lee got ready to go and he hit a series of holds,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. 'On about No. 5 is when he pulled his head out and caught him on his back.”
The fervor that surrounds Lee won't die soon. He has created a buzz in college wrestling, but Lee and the Hawkeyes are ready to move forward, which includes a home dual against No. 3 Oklahoma State on Jan. 14.
'Yeah, but it's not over,” Brands said. 'It's just begun in a way. We'll be back to more normal, which is good, but you don't feel it on our room.”
Lost in the whirlwind of Lee's redshirt removal was the home debut of Alex Marinelli. The 165-pound redshirt freshman was the center of similar discussions for most of last season and his insertion in the lineup was a hot topic early in the season.
'I told Spencer after his match, I wanted to see a little more and I'm sure everyone else did,” Marinelli said. 'This guy was born to be a champion, I'm born to be a champion, and all these people on my team are born to be champions. When that time comes they're going to seize the moment and get the fall. As a whole, it was a great performance.”
Marinelli has been impressive in his first month of action, improving to 7-0 with a 24-5 technical fall of Austin Hiles. He tallied seven takedowns and six nearfall, dumping Hiles on his back late in the third and holding him until time expired.
'It's kind of crazy,” said Marinelli, noting he was frustrated he couldn't get the pin. 'It's my Carver debut and I've been here on campus probably two years ...
'I wanted to pin him. It's good for the fans. I came out with the tech fall but got the second-best thing.”
Lee served as that lower-weight powder keg that has been a staple of the Iowa lineup. The Hawkeyes (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) recorded nine bonus-point victories, including six pins and two major decisions.
Paul Glynn (133) overcame an early deficit for a third-period fall, taking the mat after Lee. All-Americans Brandon Sorensen (149) and 157-pounder Michael Kemerer added pins. NCAA qualifiers Cash Wilcke (197) and heavyweight Sam Stoll closed with falls.
'It's always been an idea that 125 starts off with a bang (and) the momentum continues throughout the rest of the weights,” Lee said. 'Paul, in the next match, got a pin. You just have to keep that train going. I think it's really important.”
Brands earned his 200th career win, leading the Hawkeyes. He became the second Iowa coach, joining legendary head coach Dan Gable, to reach the milestone.
Brands has turned his attention to the next dual and the toughest challenge the Hawkeyes have encountered to date. The Cowboys (6-0) come to town and Iowa will have to be at its best.
'We need to be ready for what's coming up next and that's Oklahoma State,” Brands said. 'That's No. 1 right now.”
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