Iowa wrestler Spencer Lee wins national title on torn ACL

Iowa's Spencer Lee

Iowa’s Spencer Lee brought home his third national title on Saturday night, and helped the Hawkeyes to their first national team title since 2010. (AP/Jeff Roberson)

Spencer Lee didn’t make any excuses in St. Louis.

In his mind, “excuses are for wusses.”

The Iowa wrestler brought home his third NCAA wrestling championship at 125 pounds on Saturday night, and did so with no ACLs.

“I mean, eight days ago I tore my ACL in my other knee. I’m wrestling with no ACLs,” Lee said on ESPN after the win. “Whatever man. I didn’t want to tell anyone, because F excuses. Excuses are for wusses.

“That was a tough tournament for me. I could barely wrestle. I could barely shoot. I can’t sprawl. But you know what? I believe in my coaching staff and everybody who believed in me, and here I am.”

Lee beat Arizona State’s Brandon Courtney 7-0 in the title match on Saturday to claim his third national championship, which made him the first Iowa wrestler to accomplish that feat since 1998. He has now won 35 matches in a row by an incredible 430-40.

Lee has battled ACL injuries throughout most of his wrestling career, starting with his first ACL tear in high school. He injured his other ACL during the 2019 national championship, too. This week, Lee said he thought about pulling out of the tournament several times due to the pain in his leg.

“It was hard,” Lee said, via the Des Moines Register. “But I said, if I’m going to lose, I’m going to lose my way. That’s it. It doesn’t matter. If I lost, I probably wouldn’t have said anything, because that’s just how I am. You have to win no matter what. That’s what defines a champion.

“I’m kind of upset I told the world. I don’t make excuses, man.”

Lee and the Hawkeyes secured their 24th national title as a team on Saturday, too, their first in 11 years. He, along with the other nine national champions, have automatically earned a spot at the Olympic trials next month for the Tokyo Games this summer.

Though he’s not sure if he can compete, for obvious reasons, Lee isn’t ruling it out.

“Right now, we’re taking it day by day,” Lee said, via The Des Moines Register. “But that’s my goal, man. I’ll go down swinging if I have to. How’s that?”

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