3x NCAA Champion Spencer Lee (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
InterMat has learned that 3x NCAA champion Spencer Lee will not be available for the Iowa Hawkeyes for the remainder of the 2021-22 season. Lee, now famously, admitted after winning his most recent title that he had no ACL in either knee. In the near future he'll undergo surgery, which will sideline him for the rest of the year.
The Iowa staff announced in the preseason that they would use caution with Lee and he would be on a limited schedule. His only appearance of the year was at the Collegiate Wrestling Duals in late-December. There he wrestled in all three of the Hawkeyes duals and went 3-0. Though he was undefeated, Lee was clearly not in prime form. After teching Brock Bergelin (Central Michigan) in his first bout, Lee majored Jaret Lane (Lehigh) 8-0 and was held to a regular decision by Jakob Camacho (NC State).
In his absence, Iowa will most likely turn to true freshman Drake Ayala. MatScouts labeled Ayala as the #4 overall recruit in the Class of 2021 after winning three Iowa state titles and a pair of Junior National freestyle championships in Fargo. Ayala is off to a solid start while competing unattached, with a 7-1 record.. He is currently competing at the Southern Scuffle and is 2-0 with a 17-6 major decision over NCAA qualifier Reece Witcraft in his most recent bout.
Jesse Ybarra has started at 125 lbs in Lee's absence and is 5-1. He was beaten 8-2 by Iowa State's #23 Kysen Terukina in his most recent outing.
At this point, it's unclear whether or not Lee will appear in a Hawkeye singlet again. Having only competed in one date this year, Lee would likely receive a medical redshirt for the 2021-22 season. Looking at the long-term picture, he has to be focused on getting close to 100% for a run at the Paris Olympics in 2024.