It's official: Spencer Lee is the winner of the 2020 Dan Hodge Trophy.
The Hodge Trophy is essentially college wrestling's version of the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious individual award in the sport. Lee was the runaway winner for this year's Hodge Trophy, earning 52 of 57 possible first place votes. Ohio State's Kollin Moore received three first place votes, while Northwestern's Ryan Deakin and Stanford's Shane Griffith received the other first place votes. He also won the Fan Vote in lopsided fashion, receiving 15,567 of 26,709 votes (around 58% of the vote).
In a release, Lee expressed his gratitude for winning the Hodge Trophy:
“Winning the Hodge Trophy and being recognized by fans, past winners, and members of the media is certainly an honor,” Lee said. “The criteria behind the trophy is in line with the values of the Iowa Wrestling program, and I want to thank my teammates, coaches, and fans for their endless support. I also want to congratulate the other finalists. No one got the end they wanted, but this is still a season we should all be proud of.”
Lee received the Hodge after one of the most dominant seasons in recent memory. He scored bonus points in 17 of his 18 wins, including nine technical falls and four pins. He outscored opponents by a preposterous margin of 234-18, with most of the points scored by his opponents the result of escapes via intentional releases from Lee. Half of his matches didn't even make it to the second period and he only wrestled a full seven-minute match four times. Per The Des Moines Register's Cody Goodwin, Lee's 94% bonus rate was the best by a Hodge winner since Iowa State's Cael Sanderson posted a 95% bonus rate in 2002 (40-0 with 38 bonus point wins). Spencer Lee was simply on another level this year.
Spencer Lee becomes the third different Iowa wrestler to win the Hodge Trophy since it was introduced in 1995, joining Mark Ironside (1998) and Brent Metcalf (2008). Only a junior, Lee will have an opportunity to becomes Iowa's first-ever two-time Hodge Trophy winner next season. Only four wrestlers have ever won multiple Hodge Trophies -- Cael Sanderson (the only 3-time winner, 2000-02), Ben Askren (2006-07), David Taylor (2012, 2014), and Zain Retherford (2017-18). Lee's win this year did make a bit of history, though -- he's the first 125-lb wrestler to ever win the award. He's also the first lightweight to claim it since Logan Stieber (141 lbs) in 2015.
Not being able to finish the season with a shot at a third-straight national championship remains a bitter pill to swallow, but this does take a little bit of the edge off that disappointment. This is a phenomenal accomplishment and a thoroughly well-deserved honor for Lee. Congratulations, Spencer.