Spencer Lee, a rising junior at Franklin Regional in Murrysville, Pa., is returning home as a world champion.
Lee, a two-time American Family Insurance ALL-USA selection, won the gold medal at the UWW Junior World Championships in Brazil with a 10-0 technical fall victory against 2014 Cadet World champion Ali Reza Goodarzi of Iran in the 50 kg/110 pound class.
Lee locked up Goodarzi four times in his signature leg lace before the match was stopped in 48 seconds.
“I was surprised I had a leg lace. They told me to cinch it up, and I cinched it up and started rolling. I didn’t stop until I heard the whistle,” Lee told USA Wrestling.
A two-time Pennsylvania state champion, Lee was dominant on his way to gold with a 55-4 advantage in combined points and technical falls in all five of his matches.
“We just saw to be a World champion, it is really important to go from takedowns to turns,” National team freestyle coach Brandon Slay told USA Wrestling. Lee has done it a lot in the past, but he specifically did it today in every one of his matches. That is what separates him from the other guys. He took people down, then went right into his lace or his gut and teched them. He kept the same focus in the finals.”
And if the gold medal weren’t enough, how about this praise from Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs?
Aaron Pico, from Whittier, Calif., won the bronze medal Sunday in the 66 kg/145.5 pounds by scoring 13 consecutive points to beat 2015 European Junior champion Enus Uslu of Turkey, 13-4. After trailing 4-2 at the break, Pico rolled up the points in the second period to finish with a nine-point edge.
“I like being the only person out there and I can feel the energy,” Pico said. “People started chanting USA. It gives you a burst of energy and you let it fly. I told myself, this is the last match, and I will put everything into it. The guy got to my leg once. If I put pressure on him, do what I do with my offense, everything is going to work out.”
Pico, who takes online classes and trains specifically for freestyle wrestling, won the silver medal last year at Junior Worlds.
Mark Hall from Apple Valley, Minn., finished ninth in the the 74 kg/193 pound class. Hall, the American Family Insurance Wrestler of the Year, finished ninth with a 2-1 record.
He won his first two matches before losing in the quarterfinals 4-2. Hall was ahead 2-1 as time was running out, but Nagy was credited with takedown for two points with one second remaining. The U.S. protested but was denied. Hall was eliminated when Nagy, the eventual bronze medalist, lost in the semifinals.
Zahid Valencia, a recent graduate of St. John Bosco in Bellflower, Calif., finished with a 1-1 record at 84 kg/185 pounds. He placed 10th and will now head to Arizona State.