Spencer Lee gets a pin in Carver-Hawkeye debut as Iowa blasts Michigan State

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Spencer Lee’s Iowa wrestling debut was so quick that some of the fans inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena may have missed it if they didn’t get to their seats in time.

“Coach has always told us to just take what was there,” Lee said and smiled.

Iowa's Spencer Lee pins Michigan State's Rayvon Foley as they wrestle at 125 pounds at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018.

No. 4 Iowa throttled Michigan State, 49-6, here Friday. The Hawkeyes took nine of 10 bouts and racked up six pins, a technical fall and two major decisions to improve to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten Conference. It was also Tom Brands’ 200th career victory as the Iowa head coach.

“It means absolutely nothing to me,” Brands dead-panned afterward.

An announced 8,486 came to watch this lopsided dual, which was almost 2,000 more than when the Spartans (4-3, 0-1) last visited in 2014. They all came to watch Lee, Iowa’s star freshman lightweight. He became the first true freshman who’s just a year removed from high school to start for the Hawkeyes under Brands.

LEISTIKOW:No great reason for Iowa to hold back Spencer Lee any longer

And the three-time age-level world champ did not disappoint. 

After trying a handful of shots in the opening 30 seconds, Lee finally connected on a short fireman’s dump that put Michigan State’s Rayvon Foley on his back. Lee popped his head up and readjusted to secure a pin in 46 seconds, which put the crowd on its feet.

When Lee stepped onto the mat, the clock read 7:03 p.m. When he stepped off, it read 7:04 p.m.

“It’s been a dream since I was little to run out inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena,” Lee said. “It was kind of cool being in the middle (of the mat). That was pretty awesome. Hoping for more of that in the future.

“I was a little nervous, but there was excitement as well.”

The rest of the dual followed a similar script, as the final score suggests. The Hawkeyes scored bonus points in all nine of their victories. They recorded 31 takedowns to Michigan State’s three. Only three matches all night went the distance.

Paul Glynn followed at 133 pounds. Brands said the move came because, after a quarterfinal run at the Midlands Championships last month, Glynn is starting to separate himself from Phillip Laux. On this night, the Bettendorf native came back from a 4-0 hole to pin Matt Santos in the third period.

Iowa’s only hiccup came at 141 pounds, where Carter Happel also made his Carver debut. After opening with a takedown in the first, Javier Gasca III, who’s ranked 19th at the weight by Trackwrestling, reversed Happel to his back and locked up a cradle for a second-period pin.

“He hung in that guy’s position too long,” Brands said. “We want to force where we’re good, and we’re hanging, it looked like we were wrestling slow to try and get as much riding time on that clock as possible. It just got worse and worse and worse.

“All of a sudden, his head is higher than ours and our knee and head are together and he pulls his head out. You have to force your position … we just hung in his position too long.”

The rest of the night unfolded completely in favor of Iowa. Brandon Sorensen and Michael Kemerer both recorded second-period pins at 149 and 157 for a 24-6 lead at the break. Alex Marinelli then opened the second half of the dual with a 24-5 technical fall over Austin Hiles.

“As a whole, as a team, it was a great performance,” said Marinelli, who made his Carver debut as well. “It’s kind of crazy that this is my Carver debut, and I’ve been here on campus for like two years … we’re expected to do great things, and when I don’t pin my guy, I get frustrated.

“I wanted to pin him. It’s good for the fans. But I came out with a tech fall. I got the second-best thing.”

Iowa's Alex Marinelli tries to pin Michigan State's Austin Hiles as they wrestle at 165 pounds at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. Marinelli won by tech fall, 23-5.

Joey Gunther and Mitch Bowman combined for 10 takedowns en route to back-to-back major decisions at 174 and 184, and Cash Wilcke and Sam Stoll wrapped up the dual with two more pins, giving Iowa its highest-scoring output of the 2017-18 season thus far.

Lee watched all of it while sitting next to Royce Alger, a two-time NCAA champion under Dan Gable, behind the Hawkeye bench. The two talked and enjoyed the sounds of Carver erupting after each pin.

It was a sight to behold, Iowa wrestling’s past sitting next to its present. And on this night, Spencer Lee showed that the future looks bright.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

No. 4 Iowa 49, Michigan State 6

125: Spencer Lee (IA) over Rayvon Foley by fall, :46
133: Paul Glynn (IA) over Matt Santos by fall, 6:13
141: Javier Gasca III (MSU) over Carter Happel by fall, 4:04
149: Brandon Sorensen (IA) over Jwan Britton by fall, 3:45
157: Michael Kemerer (IA) over Jake Tucker by fall, 4:21
165: Alex Marinelli (IA) over Austin Hiles by tech fall, 24-5
174: Joey Gunther (IA) over Logan Ritchie by major, 15-5
184: Mitch Bowman (IA) over Shwan Shadaia by major, 9-0
197: Cash Wilcke (IA) over Nick May by fall, 5:54
285: Sam Stoll (IA) over Matt Lloyd by fall, 2:03