Spencer Lee’s collegiate career at Iowa, which included three national championships, came to an end Friday night, and his mother, Cathy, wasn’t thrilled with the outcome.
In a clip captured by the ESPN broadcast, an emotional Cathy ripped a pair of glasses off her face and crumpled them between her hands, before throwing them off to the side. Lee had just lost to Purdue’s Matt Ramos in the national semifinals.
“Spencer Lee’s mom Cathy, an alternate for the U.S. Olympic judo team, and her glasses did not survive that match,” the ESPN broadcast said.
Cathy latched onto the arm of a spectator sitting next to her, and she followed by letting go and grabbing the glasses from her face.
Both of Lee’s parents were judo athletes, according to the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, and they met at a workout in France.
In addition to his three national titles, Lee had also clinched two Big Ten conference championships while at Iowa — winning one in each of his four collegiate seasons, a streak that lasted until his 2021-22 campaign ended with surgery.
But he returned as the No. 1 seed in the 125-pound category of the NCAA Championships, where he advanced through the first three matchups against wrestlers from Air Force, Michigan and Lock Haven.
Then, Ramos emerged as the opponent who could beat Lee.
Lee, who had double-knee surgery that cut his 2021-22 season short, would’ve become the first wrestler from the Hawkeyes program to ever win four individual national championships, according to KCRG.
He also won his third national championship while wrestling on a torn ACL, telling ESPN in an interview following the match that “I didn’t want to tell anybody, because excuses are for wusses,” according to Hawk Central.
“We had a gameplan,” Ramos said following his upset victory, according to the Des Moines Register. “We train for this every day. Spencer is the guy to beat at 125. I’ve been working for that. He’s been in my head every single day. I’ve just been striving for it. I’m an All-American now. I’m in the national finals. You have to let it fly.”
Ramos advanced to the national championship Saturday night, where he will wrestle Princeton’s Patrick Glory in the 125-pound category.