Spencer Lee's marvelous junior season continues to result in award after award. He was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year. He won the NCAA's Most Dominant Wrestler Award. He won the Dan Hodge Trophy. And now he's won one of the biggest awards of them all: the AAU James E. Sullivan Award.
Lee was named a co-winner of the award, alongside superstar Oregon basketball player Sabrina Ionescu, who finished off a dominant senior season by winning virtually every major women's basketball player of the award available. The Sullivan Award is arguably the most prestigious award available to amateur athletes. It's presented annually to "the athlete who has demonstrated the most athletic success, as well as leadership, character and sportsmanship in the past year."
Past winners of the award include Bobby Jones (1930), Carl Lewis (1981), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986), Peyton Manning (1997), Michael Phelps (2003), and Shawn Johnson (2008). That's pretty heady company to be in. Lee becomes the first Iowa student-athlete to win the award and just the fifth wrestler ever to be honored with the award. The other four winners are all legends of the sport: Bruce Baumgartner, Rulon Gardner, John Smith, and Kyle Snyder. That's some excellent company to be in.
Lee expressed his humility and gratitude on being named the winner:
"I am incredibly humbled," Lee said. "It was an honor to be nominated and reach the finals, so to be selected among this incredible group of individuals is pretty special. It is great to be the fifth wrestler to win the award, and it is really special to be able to represent the University of Iowa. I am happy to share this award with Sabrina. All of the finalists are deserving. I am very surprised and very thankful."