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March 17, 2018

Spencer Lee

Cleveland, Ohio


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by your 2018 NCAA 125 pound champion, Spencer Lee, from Iowa.

Q. Spencer, what are your initial thoughts right now?
SPENCER LEE: I don't know if it's really set in. I got to hug my teammates and my family. That was an awesome feeling. I got the best teammates in the world. And Kemerer and Sorensen and Marinelli, they're great leaders and I can name the whole team. They did a good job of making me believe in myself and I think that's why I'm here.

Q. You've been through so much the last 14 months. Major surgery, losing in the state finals to Austin DeSanto. You've been through so much. How big is this personally for you to come out on top in the NCAAs?
SPENCER LEE: You know my motto: You get punched in the face; you get up and you hit them back again. After losing, the plan was get my knee healthy, and then got my redshirt pulled (indiscernible) to the NCAA title. And coaches believed in me and my family and friends and teammates believed in me. And that's why I'm here.

Q. Now that you've gotten here, gotten to the top, as you look back, were there moments -- what was the toughest moment in this climb the last year for you?
SPENCER LEE: I think originally just coming back in practice. And I'm not saying I lost my feel, but not being able to use your knee for quite a while, it was a little different getting back on the mat. The coaching staff did an amazing job making sure I was ready to go. Look, I've got my brace off this week, right? They're really careful. They want to make sure everything they did was the best decision for me, and that's why my redshirt was pulled as well. And that's basically it.

Q. Talk about the success of Hawkeye lightweights and what it means to be able -- and even in the recruiting process seeing the success over the previous years, knowing that's a place you could go?
SPENCER LEE: I know there are a lot of guys to live up to. I mean even my club coach was lightweight here at University of Iowa. I just know what it's like. But I don't think that we're only a lightweight school. I don't think -- we don't want to be known as that anymore.

We want to be known as an all-around, every weight. But for now, I guess, it's lightweight for now. But we're working on it. My teammates are going to make that the right way.

Q. What did that do for your confidence the end of the first period, that takedown, when you were able to kind of work your way through it?
SPENCER LEE: Just feeling that shot. I knew I could take him down later in the match as well. I think, like I said, like, on live TV, we're both kind of feeling each other out.

We haven't wrestled each other since I was a freshman in high school. He was a sophomore. So feeling each other out: What do we have? Is there really a big difference? I mean, there is. We both have improved a lot. Hopefully.

And I think that was kind of the main thing. I got the takedown. I knew it's going to be there again. And I got it in the end.

Q. Suriano has been stingy giving up points throughout the whole tournament. What were you able to do to be able to score as much as you did?
SPENCER LEE: I didn't really score that much, did I? Was it five points? But I just think it was two takedowns and the escape. I don't know if that's really a lot of points.

But the whole thing was building your lead. And coaches wanted me to keep him down. Kind of wished I'd kept him down now. But it was just continuing -- offensive mindset was basically the whole game plan.

Q. Did you do anything that surprises you --
SPENCER LEE: I didn't think I would ever walk out to the Pokemon theme song, but that was the plan if I made the NCAA finals. And I chose to do it.

Q. Some of your teammates talked about this earlier, but what kind of statement do you want to make over the next three years of your career as a team, what do you see building in the room?
SPENCER LEE: We're a family. Every person in that room wants the best for each and every person. Even if you're wrestling off, they don't care.

I see guys wrestle off then they go in the locker room and they're sitting there telling each other what they could have done better.

The whole team is just about improving, and the coaches are like -- they're family. They tell us we're family. Iowa is our home.

And that's what I want everyone to know about the University of Iowa. We're not these whatever robots or whatever that stigma was a long time ago. We're a family and we love each other, and we all want to be national champs. And that's the goal. That's what we want to be known as.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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