Spencer Lee in action at the World Olympic Games Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey.
Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Spencer Lee in action at the World Olympic Games Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey.

Athlete of Week

Spencer Lee named USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week presented by U.S. Air Force Special Warfare

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Spencer Lee (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye WC/Titan Mercury WC) has been named the USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week, presented by U.S. Air Force Special Warfare, on May 15, 2024.

The 25-year-old wrestling out of Hawkeye Wrestling Club in Iowa City, Iowa, was all business at the 2024 World Olympic Games Qualifier held in Istanbul, Turkey. Lee posted a near-perfect performance comprised of four dynamic wins on the top side of the 57 kg men’s freestyle bracket to become a finalist and earn one of the three remaining Paris Olympic quotas in his weight class.

Three of Lee’s four contested matches ended by technical fall with official finish times of 22, 53 and 35 seconds. This includes a 10-0 thrashing of Kazakhstan’s Rakhat Kalzhan, a two-time Asian Championships medalist, in the Olympic qualification semifinal bout held in front of a raucous crowd at Istanbul’s Başakşehir Gençlik ve Spor Tesisleri.

To book a place in the Olympic qualification match, Lee secured impressive victories over 2020 European champion Vladimir Egorov of Macedonia, 12-2, No. 1 seed Wanhao Zou of China, 10-9, and Ben Tarik of Morocco, 10-0.

With Lee, as well as 65 kg representative Zain Retherford, getting the job done at last weekend’s final Olympic qualifying event, the U.S. men’s freestyle team boasts a full six-man squad for the upcoming Olympic Games. In total, the U.S. will send 15 Olympians to Paris—six in men’s freestyle, six in women’s freestyle and three in Greco-Roman.

Lee won age-group World gold medals for the U.S. in three-straight years (2014-16), once at the U17 level and twice in the U20 division. He took seven years away from the international circuit to focus on his collegiate career with Iowa, where he was a three-time NCAA champion and two-time Dan Hodge Trophy winner.

At the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Wrestling held in State College, Pa., Lee secured his trip to Istanbul with a championship series sweep of 2020 Olympic bronze medalist and past World champion Thomas Gilman.

Since returning to the Senior-level international circuit last November, Lee has posted an 18-0 record with 12 bonus-point wins. He has collected gold medals at the Bill Farrell Memorial International, U.S. Senior Nationals, Pan American Championships and U.S. Olympic Team Trials, in addition to his remarkable run in Istanbul. The only wrestlers able to keep Lee to a decision during this stretch have been Zou, Gilman, 2023 U.S. World Team member Zane Richards and 2016 NCAA champion Nico Megaludis.  

To nominate a wrestler for this honor please email the athlete's name, wrestling program, weekly accomplishments, and career accolades to communications@usawrestling.org.

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