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Hawkeyes' Lee finalist for wrestling's 'Heisman'
IOWA WRESTLING

Hawkeyes' Lee finalist for wrestling's 'Heisman'

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Iowa’s Spencer Lee wrestles Penn State’s Brandon Meredith in their 125-pound match during a January dual. The Hawkeye junior, 18-0 on the season, is one of eight finalists for the Dan Hodge Trophy presented to the top collegiate wrestler.

Voting begins Monday for the Dan Hodge Trophy and Iowa’s Spencer Lee is among a collection of eight finalists for college wrestling’s top individual honor.

Collectively, the group of candidates for what is considered the Heisman Trophy of wrestling combined for a 196-0 record during the 2019-20 season that was cut short with the cancellation of last weekend’s NCAA Championships.

Lee earned the opportunity following a dominant junior season at 125 pounds for the nation’s top-ranked team.

The top seed for the NCAA Championships, Lee went 18-0 on his way to earning his first Big Ten title. Selected as the Big Ten wrestler of the year, Lee is one of four Big Ten wrestlers chosen as finalists for the Hodge Trophy.

In addition to the Hawkeyes’ two-time NCAA champion, Northwestern 157-pounder Ryan Deakin, Ohio State 197-pounder Kellen Moore and Minnesota 285-pounder Gable Steveson earned spots on the final ballot.

The other finalists are Noah Adams, a 197-pounder from West Virginia, Princeton's 125-pound Pat Glory, Stanford 165-pounder Shane Griffith and Cornell 133-pounder Chas Tucker.

Lee outscored his opponents 234-18 this season and he scored bonus points in 17 of his 18 victories, pinning four opponents and recording four first-period technical falls. He scored five additional technical falls in the first minute of the second period and won three major decisions.

He scored an average of five team points in every match he wrestled this season for an Iowa team which finished its dual season at 13-0 and won its first outright Big Ten tourney title since 2010.

Dominance is among the criteria for the award named for a three-time NCAA champion from Oklahoma who went 46-0 with 36 pins and never allowed a takedown during his collegiate career.

Electors, which include a committee made up of all previous winners, a retired coach from each region and media members from across the country, will receive ballots today.

A fan vote is also part of the selection process and the winner of that segment of the balloting receives two first-place votes. That ballot can be accessed online beginning at noon today and running through Friday at WIN-magazine.com.

The recipient will be announced on March 30.

Lee is hoping to become the third Hawkeye to win the honor which has been presented annually since 1995. Former Iowa wrestler Mark Ironside won it in 1998 and Brent Metcalf was the winner in 2008.

Penn State wrestlers have won the honor in each of the past three years.

In addition to Lee, a capsule look at this year’s other finalists in alphabetical order:

* Noah Adams, West Virginia: The 197-pound sophomore became the second Mountaineers wrestler to win a Big 12 championship, posting a 32-0 record. He recorded five pins, two technical falls and six major decisions.

* Ryan Deakin, Northwestern: Recorded six wins vs. top-25 opponents during a 21-0 season at 157 pounds for the Wildcats. The junior scored bonus points in 13 victories, including five pins and eight major decisions.

* Pat Glory, Princeton: Ended the season with a 24-0 record at 125 pounds including 17 bonus-point wins. The sophomore won 13 matches by fall or technical fall. He was seeded second behind Lee for the NCAA meet.

* Shane Griffith, Stanford: A redshirt freshman, he went 28-0 on his way to winning a Pac-12 championships at 165. Collected bonus points in 18 of his matches, including nine pins. His record includes six wins vs. ranked opponents.

* Kellen Moore, Ohio State: Built a 27-0 record enroute to winning a Big Ten title during his senior season at 197 for the Buckeyes. Defeated 13 opponents ranked in the top 25 while collecting four pins, six technical falls and 10 major decisions.

* Gable Steveson, Minnesota: Finished his sophomore season at 285 with a 15-0 record for the Golden Gophers, including an 8-0 record against top-25 opponents. Scored 11 bonus-point victories, including four first-period pins.

* Chas Turner, Cornell: A senior 133-pounder, he finished the season with a 31-0 record including a 9-0 record against top-25 wrestlers. Scored bonus points in three matches, recording two falls and one major decision.

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