Spencer Lee wins battle of former Hawkeye lightweights to win 57 kg at U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Wrestling

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — This was what the fans wanted to see, right?

Spencer Lee. Thomas Gilman. Two former Hawkeyes. Two world-class wrestlers.

But only one could win the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Wrestling.

In a highly-anticipated best-of-three finals series, it was Lee who emerged victorious, defeating Gilman two matches to none to win the Trials at 57 kilograms.

Lee won the first match, 6-3, thanks to a takedown-to-a-turn sequence in the second period. In the second, a similar script unfolded: Gilman led 2-2 on criteria with 30 seconds left, then Lee erupted for a takedown, two turns, and ultimately pinned Gilman in 5:58.

As a result, Lee is the Olympic Trials champion — but he is not yet an Olympian.

The Murrysville, Pa., native must now qualify the U.S. for the 57-kg competition at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. He’ll travel to Istanbul, Turkey, next month for the World Olympic Games Qualifier, set for May 9-12. In all, the United States still needs to qualify five weights for Paris: 57 kg and 65 kg in men’s freestyle as well as 60 kg, 67 kg, and 77 kg in Greco-Roman.

It’s a challenge Lee is ready to attack, the same way he attacked the Trials this weekend. Lee finished 4-0 and outscored his opponents by a combined 35-11. He took out Nico Megaludis, another Murrysville native and occasional training partner; Zane Richards, the returning world team rep; then Gilman, three-time world medalist, world champion, and Olympic bronze medalist, in consecutive matches.

Winning Olympic gold has always been Lee’s dream. He’s now closer than he’s ever been — and he doesn’t plan on stopping now.

Here’s a weight-by-weight rundown of what happened in Session III on Saturday:

Men’s Freestyle

57 kg — See above. In the consolations, a collection of forfeits allowed a couple of high-schoolers, Jax Forrest and Marcus Blaze, to wrestle for third place and spots on the U.S. National Team. Blaze prevailed, 4-1. He won four consecutive matches after a first-round loss on Friday.

65 kg — This all-Penn State final went to Zain Retherford, who swept the best-of-three finals series, 2-1 and 5-0, over Nick Lee to win the Trials. But like Lee, Retherford still has to qualify the weight for the Olympics, so he’ll head to Istanbul. The U.S. did not qualify 65 kilos for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In the wrestlebacks, Joey McKenna quietly won four consecutive matches after a first-round loss and finished third.

74 kg — Kyle Dake controlled this all-NLWC matchup from the jump, scoring a takedown in the first and single-point sequences in the second for a 4-1 win. Jason Nolf struggled setting up any kind of offense. In the consolations, Mitchell Mesenbrink rolled up technical falls over Quincy Monday and Jarrett Jacques to finish third in the challenge tournament.

86 kg — Aaron Brooks stunned returning World champ and 2020 Olympic gold medalist David Taylor with a 4-1 win in their first match. Brooks scored takedowns in the first and second period and somehow defended against a deep shot midway through the second, surrendering only a step-out point as opposed to two or more.

In the consolations, Mark Hall, of the Penn RTC and a former Penn State wrestler, left his shoes on the side of the mat after losing to Trent Hidlay, 9-4, signaling retirement. Hall won an NCAA title and was a three-time All-American for the Nittany Lions and was a Cadet World champ and two-time Junior World champ for the United States. Hidlay ultimately finished in true third overall, beating Alex Dieringer, 5-4, then winning over Zahid Valencia by injury default.

97 kg — Kyle Snyder scored takedowns in both periods and dictated ties and position en route to a 5-0 first-match victory over Isaac Trumble. Nate Jackson stormed back with three straight wins for third after a quarterfinal loss to Kollin Moore, who finished second in the challenge tournament behind Trumble.

125 kg — Mason Parris scored a trio of takedowns, one in the first and two more in the second, to take the first match 7-0 over Hayden Zillmer. Dom Bradley rallied for third place in the challenge tournament after a semifinal loss, forcing a true-third match against Nick Gwiazdowksi. Gwiazdowski rallied from a 4-0 deficit to win, 7-4.

Women’s Freestyle

50 kg — The experienced vet took out the young up-and-comer in round one, as Sarah Hildebrandt used a flurry of counter attacks to roll to a 10-0 technical fall over high-school star Audrey Jimenez. In the true-third match, Sage Mortimer built an 8-0 lead and ultimately prevailed, 12-8, over Erin Golston.

53 kg — A hard-fought 2-1 win for Dom Parrish over Haley Augello thanks to a takedown midway through the first period. In the consolations, Felicity Taylor ripped off three straight wins to finish third in the challenge tournament, then fell to Areana Villaescusa in the National Team true-third bout.

57 kg — Helen Maroulis still looks like one of the top wrestlers in the world. She built an 8-0 lead before pinning Jacarra Winchester in the first period, wrapping up the fall in 2:41. In the true-third match, Alex Hedrick scored three points in the final minute to beat Abigail Nette, 6-6 on criteria.

62 kg — Kayla Miracle outlasted Macey Kilty, 8-5, in a thrilling first match here. Kilty built a 4-1 lead and took a 5-3 advantage into the second, but Miracle rattled off five unanswered points to take match one. In the wrestlebacks, Adaugo Nwachukwu, a U20 World bronze medalist and three-time NAIA national champ, rallied from a semifinal loss to Kilty to finish true third at the weight class.

68 kg — Amit Elor produced another efficient performance, scoring takedowns in the first and second period to beat Forrest Molinari, 6-0, in the first round. In the wrestlebacks, Brooklyn Hays rolled over three opponents by a combined 30-6, but Alex Glaude stopped her run, 9-4, in the true-third match.

76 kg — Kennedy Blades used a couple of 4-point moves, one in each period, for an 11-6 first-round win over Adeline Gray. Gray scored twice to make it 4-4 at the break, then Blades scored seven straight points to seal the win. Kylie Welker rallied for third place in the challenge tournament, beating Dymond Guilford 5-4, after a semifinal loss to Yelena Makoyed.

Greco-Roman

60 kg — Of course, a series between Ildar Hafizov and Dalton Roberts is headed to a third match. Roberts scored a couple of 1-pointers for a 2-0 win in the first match, then Hafizov erupted for a 10-1 technical fall, thanks to a couple of 4-point throws, in match two, setting up a winner-take-all bout in Session IV. The winner will still have to qualify this weight for the Olympics.

67 kg — Ellis Coleman and Alejandro Sancho are also going to a decisive third match. Sancho took the first, 1-1, then Coleman battled back to take the second, 2-0. The winner will also have to qualify this weight for the Olympics.

77 kg — Kamal Bey blew through Aliaksandr Kikinou in straight sets to win the Trials. Bey took the first match by a 9-1 technical fall, wherein he scored a pair of 4-pointers to win, then won the second 6-0, thanks to another 4-point throw in the first period. Like the first two Greco weights, Bey now has to compete in Turkey to qualify the weight for Paris.

87 kg — Payton Jacobson’s spectacular run through the tournament continued on Saturday morning with an 8-2 win over Spencer Woods in the first match. Jacobson took control of the match with a big 4-point throw. He won three matches on Friday and is now one win from the U.S. Olympic Team.

97 kg — Alan Vera scored a takedown and a couple of turns with a minute left in the second period to turn a 1-1 match into a first-round win, 7-1, over Joe Rau. Rau held criteria before Vera’s offensive explosion.

130 kg — A trio of step-out points lifted Cohlton Schultz to a 3-1 win over Adam Coon. Not much in the way of offense otherwise, which is somewhat expected given that these guys have wrestled many, many times in recent years.

2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Wrestling | April 19-20, Bryce Jordan Center, State College, Pa.

Session IV
When: Saturday, 5:30 p.m. (CT)
Watch: USA Network + Peacock
Brackets: Trackwrestling

Best-of-Three Championship Series Results

Men’s Freestyle

57 kg
Round 1: Spencer Lee (Hawkeye WC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Thomas Gilman (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC), 6-3
Round 2: Spencer Lee (Hawkeye WC/Titan Mercury WC) fall over Thomas Gilman (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC), 5:58
Spencer Lee wins series, 2-0

65 kg
Round 1: Zain Retherford (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Nick Lee (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC), 2-1
Round 2: Zain Retherford (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Nick Lee (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC), 5-0
Zain Retherford wins series, 2-0

74 kg
Round 1: Kyle Dake (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Jason Nolf (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC), 4-1
Kyle Dake leads series, 1-0

86 kg
Round 1: Aaron Brooks (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. David Taylor (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC), 4-1
Aaron Brooks leads series, 1-0

97 kg
Round 1: Kyle Snyder (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Isaac Trumble (Wolfpack RTC/Titan Mercury WC), 5-0
Kyle Snyder leads series, 1-0

125 kg
Round 1: Mason Parris (Cliff Keen WC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Hayden Zillmer (Gopher WC), 7-0
Mason Parris leads series, 1-0

Women’s Freestyle

50 kg
Round 1: Sarah Hildebrandt (New York AC) tech. fall Audrey Jimenez (Sunkist Kids WC), 10-0
Sarah Hildebrandt leads series, 1-0

53 kg
Round 1: Dominique Parrish (Beaver Dam RTC/Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Haley Augello (Izzy Style/New York AC), 2-1
Dominique Parrish leads series, 1-0

57 kg
Round 1: Helen Maroulis (Sunkist Kids WC) fall over Jacarra Winchester (Titan Mercury WC), 2:41
Helen Maroulis leads series, 1-0

62 kg
Round 1: Kayla Miracle (Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Macey Kilty (Sunkist Kids WC), 8-5
Kayla Miracle leads series, 1-0

68 kg
Round 1: Amit Elor (NYC RTC/Titan Mercury) dec. Forrest Molinari (Sunkist Kids WC), 6-0
Amit Elor leads series, 1-0

76 kg
Round 1: Kennedy Blades (Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Adeline Gray (New York AC), 11-6
Kennedy Blades leads series, 1-0

Greco-Roman

60 kg
Round 1: Dalton Roberts (U.S. Army WCAP) dec. Ildar Hafizov (U.S. Army WCAP), 2-0
Round 2: Ildar Hafizov (U.S. Army WCAP) tech. fall Dalton Roberts (U.S. Army WCAP), 10-1
Series tied, 1-1

67 kg
Round 1: Alejandro Sancho (U.S. Army WCAP) dec. Ellis Coleman (U.S. Army WCAP), 1-1
Round 2: Ellis Coleman (U.S. Army WCAP) dec. Alejandro Sancho (U.S. Army WCAP), 2-0
Series tied, 1-1

77 kg
Round 1: Kamal Bey (U.S. Army WCAP) tech. fall Aliaksandr Kikinou (New York AC), 9-1
Round 2: Kamal Bey (U.S. Army WCAP) dec. Aliaksandr Kikinou (New York AC), 6-0
Kamal Bey wins series, 2-0

87 kg
Round 1: Payton Jacobson (Northern Michigan/Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Spencer Woods (U.S. Army WCAP), 8-1
Payton Jacobson leads series, 1-0

97 kg
Round 1: Alan Vera (New York AC) dec. Josef Rau (Titan Mercury WC), 7-1
Alan Vera leads series, 1-0

130 kg
Round 1: Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist Kid WC) dec. Adam Coon (Cliff Keen WC/New York AC), 3-1
Cohlton Schultz leads series, 1-0

U.S. National Team True-Third Match Results

Men’s Freestyle
86 kg: Trent Hidlay (Wolfpack RTC/Titan Mercury WC) over Zahid Valencia (Sunkist Kids WC), inj. default
125 kg: Nick Gwiazdowski (Spartan Combat RTC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Dom Bradley (Tiger Style WC/Sunkist Kids WC), 7-4

Women’s Freestyle
50 kg: Sage Mortimer (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Erin Golston (New York AC), 12-8
53 kg: Areana Villaescusa (U.S. Army WCAP) fall over Felicity Taylor (Iowa Women’s WC/Titan Mercury WC), 3:50
57 kg: Alex Hedrick (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Abigail Nette (U.S. Army WCAP), 6-6
62 kg: Adaugo Nwachukwu (U.S. Army WCAP) over Jen Page (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC), FF
68 kg: Alex Glaude (Beaver Dam RTC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Brooklyn Hays (Unattached), 9-4

Greco-Roman
87 kg: John Stefanowicz (U.S. Marine Corps) dec. Zachary Braunagel (Illinois RTC/New York AC), 2-1
97 kg: Nicholas Boykin (Sunkist Kids WC) dec. David Orndorff (Ohio RTC/Titan Mercury WC), 4-3
130 kg: Aden Attao (Beaver Dam RTC/New York AC) dec. Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm), 4-2

Challenge Tournament Third Place Match Results

Men’s Freestyle
57 kg: Marcus Blaze (PWC) dec. Jax Forrest (McCort HS), 4-1
65 kg: Joey McKenna (Penn RTC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Jesse Mendez (Ohio RTC/Titan Mercury WC), 4-4
74 kg: Mitchell Mesenbrink (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) tech. fall Jarrett Jacques (Tiger Style WC), 10-0
86 kg: Trent Hidlay (Wolfpack RTC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Alex Dieringer (Cliff Keen WC/Titan Mercury WC), 5-4
97 kg: Nate Jackson (New York AC) dec. Eric Schultz (Nebraska Wrestling TC), 4-2
125 kg: Dom Bradley (Tiger Style WC/Sunkist Kids WC) dec. Daniel Greg Kerkvliet (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC), 2-2

Women’s Freestyle
50 kg: Erin Golston (New York AC) dec. Samara Chavez (Team Tornado WC), 10-8
53 kg: Felicity Taylor (Iowa Women’s WC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Alisha Howk (Sunkist Kids WC), 5-1
57 kg: Abigail Nette (U.S. Army WCAP) dec. Cristelle Rodriguez (Tiger WC), 5-2
62 kg: Adaugo Nwachukwu (U.S. Army WCAP) tech. fall Claire DiCugno (King), 13-3
68 kg: Brooklyn Hays (Unattached) tech. fall Reese Larramendy (Iowa Women’s WC/Titan Mercury WC), 11-0*
76 kg: Kylie Welker (Iowa Women’s WC/Spartan Combat RTC/Titan Mercury WC) dec. Dymond Guilford (Titan Mercury WC), 5-4

Greco-Roman
60 kg: Max Black (Northern Michigan) dec. Taylor Lamont (Gopher WC/Sunkist Kids WC), 8-1
67 kg: Pat Smith (Minnesota Storm) dec. Xavier Johnson (U.S. Army WCAP), 5-1
77 kg: Jesse Porter (New York AC) tech. fall Danny Braunagel (Illinois RTC/New York AC), 12-1
87 kg: Zachary Braunagel (Illinois RTC/New York AC) dec. Fritz Schierl (Minnesota Storm), 4-0
97 kg: David Orndorff (Ohio RTC/Titan Mercury WC) tech. fall Brandon Marshall (Big Game WC), 9-0
130 kg: Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm) tech. fall Jeremiah Imonode (U.S. Army WCAP), 9-0

Would you like to receive the latest Minnesota wrestling news in your inbox?