Iowa Hawkeyes

Wrestling Weekend That Was: Dominant Spencer Lee wins U.S. Senior national freestyle title

Lee earns berth to U.S. Olympic Trials; HWC's Forrest Molinari rolls to national crown; Lisbon wins B.O.W.

Iowa Hawkeyes' Spencer Lee poses for a picture during Iowa Wrestling Media Day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on M
Iowa Hawkeyes’ Spencer Lee poses for a picture during Iowa Wrestling Media Day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Spencer Lee’s return to freestyle resulted in a title and Olympic Trials berth, Hawkeye Wrestling Club’s Forrest Molinari moved up and matched Lee’s golden result and the Lisbon Lions roared at the Battle of Waterloo. This is the Wrestling Weekend That Was:

Spencer Lee decisively wins U.S. Senior Nationals gold

Iowa two-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee decided to forego an Olympic redshirt season, opting to balance his junior season with the Hawkeyes and men’s freestyle competition to make a run at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team.

The three-time World champion returned to freestyle competition for the first time since winning a 2016 World Championships gold, which was his second straight Junior title after one as a Cadet in 2014.

Lee earned a berth to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials with a top-five showing and capped his dominant performance with an 8-2 victory over former Ohio State NCAA champion Nathan Tomasello in the finals of the U.S. Senior Nationals in Fort Worth, Texas.

“It was funny,” Lee said in a post-match interview. “We didn’t train that much freestyle, honestly.

“I pretty much did all the college-guy workouts, not the Hawkeye Wrestling Club workouts. They say wrestling is wrestling and I believe that, so I trust them. I just did what I could.”

What he can do and did do was throttle the field, outscoring foes 52-6 in five bouts. Four of those were by technical fall.

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“I felt pretty good. A little rusty, I think, shaking some cobwebs off, but I felt pretty confident with my skills when I did go to the attack. I just have to keep going to the attack.”

Lee owns a 3-0 record for the Hawkeyes, posting two technical falls and a major decision. Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine’s Mike Finn asked Lee how much international competition he plans to participate in this season, since he has earned a spot in the Trials.

“As much as I’m told to do,” said Lee said, noting that Iowa Coach Tom Brands and associate head coach Terry Brands will decide what and when.

Forrest Molinari mauls field

Hawkeye Wrestling Club member Forrest Molinari had already qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials as a 2019 World Team member at 65 kg. The only problem is that isn’t one of the six Olympic weight classes for women’s freestyle.

Well, it’s actually not a problem at all. Maybe just for Molinari’s competition. She rolled through the 68 kg field, pinning Victoria Francis in 1:08 for the national title Sunday at the Fort Worth (Texas) Convention Center.

Molinari was as impressive as Lee. She outscored her opponents 29-1, tallying four falls and one technical fall. According to USA Wrestling, Francis dropped down from 76 kg and both Molinari and Francis have placed fifth at Senior World Championships.

Others in Olympic Trials field

Former Hawkeye and HWC member Sam Brooks placed fifth at 86 kg to earn a berth to the Trials.

Former Waterloo East prep and Iowa State NCAA champ Kyven Gadson will compete at the Trials with a fourth-place showing at 97 kg.

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They joined HWC’s Thomas Gilman (57 kg), Alli Ragan and Kayla Miracle (62 kg), former Northern Iowa All-American Joe Colon, Iowa State freshman David Carr and former Cyclone All-American Pat Downey (86 kg).

Lisbon takes Battle of Waterloo

The Battle of Waterloo (B.O.W.) has become one of the marquee events before the holiday break on the prep wrestling schedule.

Lisbon was part of a star-studded championship pool that included last year’s state duals champions Don Bosco (1A) and West Delaware (2A) and Class 3A runner-up Waverly-Shell Rock. The Lions roared to the team title in the two-day, 32-team dual tournament.

Lisbon started the round-robin championship with a 24-0 deficit to West Delaware after the first four matches, but stormed back for a 40-30 victory that wasn’t decided until the final match.

After a 39-32 loss to the Go-Hawks, also decided in the final match, the Lions rebounded with a win over longtime rival Don Bosco to secure the championship. Lisbon received four straight wins from 220 to 113, including falls from Cole Clark (220), heavyweight Brant Baltes and Cade Siebrecht at 113.

Robert Avila Jr. (132) and Cael Happel (138) added a major decision and pin, respectively. Top-ranked 152-pounder Marshall Hauck, who sealed the win over West Delaware with a pin, beat No. 3 Cael Frost, 10-8, before the Dons closed with two wins.

Don Bosco was second, West Delaware was third and Waverly-Shell Rock was fourth.

Upper Iowa unbeaten in Desert Duals

Upper Iowa went 4-0 at the Desert Duals hosted by Wartburg in Las Vegas. The Peacocks beat Simon Fraser (33-7), UNC-Pembroke (26-12), Cloud County Community College (48-0) and Embry-Riddle (34-10).

Upper Iowa’s Brock Benitz was 4-0 at 165. Dalton Hahn (184), Nick Baumler (197) and heavyweight Triston Westerlund helped lead the way. Each went 3-0 for the Peacocks.

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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