Iowa's Lee 2018 InterMat Freshman of the Year

Spencer Lee (Photo/Mark Lundy,

Spencer Lee, a three-time age group world champion who just completed a stellar first year at University of Iowa as 125-pound NCAA champ, has been named 2018 InterMat Freshman of the Year, the amateur wrestling website announced Friday.

This award, presented each year since 2006 to best college freshman wrestler in all divisions for his/her college wrestling performance during the 2017-18 season, is based exclusively on the balloting of writers and executives at InterMat prior to the announcement of other national wrestling awards. Each staff member is asked to select five freshman wrestlers and rank them from first to fifth. Point values are assigned to each placement, ranging from one point to a wrestler listed fifth on a voter's ballot, up to nine points for a first-place vote.

Spencer Lee was listed at the top of seven ballots out of 10 submitted by InterMat staffers, for a total of 84 votes. The other freshman who received first-place votes was Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell University, with three first-place votes for a total of 76 to place second in the overall balloting.

Lee, a three-time Pennsylvania high school state champ (who suffered just one loss in his prep career in his very last match at the 2017 PIAA finals), stunned many in the wrestling world by choosing Iowa. He took advantage of the redshirt, competing unattached at tournaments in the first couple months with the Hawkeyes ... until Iowa head coach Tom Brands decided to "burn" Lee's redshirt for a Jan. 5 dual versus Michigan State. Once free of the redshirt, Lee then posted perfect 8-0 record in dual competition, and 6-0 vs. Big Ten rivals ... leading the team in overall winning percentage (.917, with a 22-2 record), fastest fall (40 seconds) and technical falls (8).

After placing third at the 2018 Big Ten Championships in the 125-pound bracket, Lee really rocked that weight class at the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Cleveland, scoring team bonus points in four out of his five matches, defeating another former prep phenom, Nick Suriano of Rutgers, in the finals, 5-1.

2018 InterMat Freshman of the Year Voting Results
1st-5th Place Votes: 9-7-5-3-1
Total Votes/(First-Place Votes)

1. Spencer Lee, Iowa 84 (7)
2. Yianni Diakomihalis, Cornell 76 (3)
3. Hayden Hidlay, North Carolina State 44
4. Evan Wick, Wisconsin 16
5. Nick Lee, Penn State 14
6. Tariq Wilson, North Carolina State 13
7. Alex Marinelli, Iowa 3

InterMat Freshman of the Year Past Winners:
2017: Mark Hall, Penn State
2016: Jason Nolf, Penn State
2015: Isaiah Martinez, Illinois
2014: Jason Tsirtsis, Northwestern
2013: Alex Dieringer, Oklahoma State
2012: Logan Stieber, Ohio State
2011: David Taylor, Penn State
2010: Kyle Dake, Cornell
2009: Andrew Howe, Wisconsin
2008: Mike Grey, Cornell
2007: Jake Varner, Iowa State
2006: Dustin Schlatter, Minnesota


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wgc52 (1) about 9 months ago
I'll try to have an open mind. With all due respect to Mr. Lee, how does Yanni not win this?
Phiferfuqua (3) about 9 months ago
Just (1) make believe that 37 wins is not > 22 wins; (2) ignore the loss to Ronnie Bresser; and (3) pretend that Yianni didn't have a win over a two-time defending champ and two wins over a two-time finalist ... and it almost starts to make sense
rfgilles (3) about 9 months ago
You could make a case for either Yianni or Lee, but it certainly isn't clear cut in favor of Yianni You are also cherry picking stats/results. Lee manhandled Tomasello at the NCAAs, who is a NCAA champ and never finished lower than 3rd. Lee also convincingly beat Suriano, who was undefeated. Lee also had a higher percentage of majors and pins than Yianni. Yianni beat Heil, but so did several others (Meredith, Parker (unheralded), Jack) before Heil did not even place at Nationals. Yianni also has a loss to Eierman. I would personally go with Lee.
jamper1 (2) about 9 months ago
I agree and I am about as far from being an Iowa fan as you can get but if you look at the wrestler's that Spencer totally dominated especially at the NCAA championships the award should definitely go to Lee.
timx (2) about 9 months ago
Both are deserving, but if you have to choose one, there is no question that 125 was a far tougher weight class and there is no comparison between the Big 10 schedule Lee had to wrestle vs the EIWA at 141.
dbestsport (1) about 9 months ago
You need to check your facts. To win his NCAA title, Yianni beat a 2X champ - and the defending champ in this weight - in the quarters, then the returning 5th place finisher in the semi's, then the returning 4th place finisher, and previous finalist in the finals. As good as he is, this was Suriano's first NCAA tournament. Yianni should have shared the title with Spencer. That is the only fair, objective way.
andizzyJD12 (1) about 9 months ago
Why Spencer Lee? Well, I think it might be the fact that in Cleveland he scored 60 points and his opponents scored 4. But no no no no no no.......we can’t admit that a Hawkeye is on his to being the best college wrestler. It has to be a Nittany Lion. It just has to be a Penn State guy. Has to be! Give me a break.
dbestsport (1) about 8 months ago
Give us a break. In case you are new to wrestling, Yianni Diakomihalis doesn't wrestle for Penn State, he wrestles for Cornell. He is as deserving of the award as is Spencer Lee. If you can't see that, than maybe it is you who is prejudice.
andizzyJD12 (1) about 8 months ago
Hey Jamper, I know who Yianni wrestles for and I’m not talking down on him. I’m saying Iowa doesn’t fair credit anymore and Penn State is over-rated.
dbestsport (2) about 8 months ago
Penn State has won 7 of the last 8 NCAA titles. The one thing they are not, is overrated.
andizzyJD12 (1) about 8 months ago
As a freshman, Spencer is at a level that even Cael Sanderson didn’t hit his freshman year. I’m not saying SL is the best college wrestler ever....too early to tell and that award probably belongs to Dake as a senior. I’m just saying that SL broke into college at a level that was unprecedented (especially, given that the redshirt was pulled).
dbestsport (1) about 8 months ago
Cael was an undefeated champion as a freshman, so not sure what you are talking about. Lee lost in the semi's of the Midlands and took third at the Big 10's? Lee had a great NCAA tournament, but at this point is hardly the best ever.
andizzyJD12 (1) about 8 months ago
Did Nickal really deserve to OW over Spencer?
dbestsport (1) about 8 months ago
He pinned a 3X AA and returning champion to win not only an individual title, but a team title as well. That's pretty outstanding. In 2016, Retherford outscored Snyder 28.5 to 24.5, but Snyder was awarded the OW because of his finals win over Gwiz.
andizzyJD12 (1) about 8 months ago
And Cael had opponents as good as NATO and Suriano as a freshman? Or ever for that matter?
andizzyJD12 (1) about 8 months ago
And Spencer pinned a 4x AA and NCAA champ, when he was already ahead by 10 points, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.
andizzyJD12 (1) about 8 months ago
I also said Spencer was on his way to being the best ever, not that he was there yet.
NotARobot54 (1) about 8 months ago
It seems ridiculous to get upset on either side of the Lee/Yianni argument. First, both are TRUE freshman. Lee was more dominant in the NCAAs. Yianni wrestled all year and won the title on a torn ACL. My tiebreaker is that both NaTo and Suriano chose netural against Lee while trailing. That's respect. But if Yianni won, no complaint here. Stoked they each have three years remaining.
Gator79 (1) about 8 months ago
How long you going to keep this article up ?
Articles about Penn State Are pulled quickly!
Seems like all you care about is Iowa and Ohio State?
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