NCAA wrestling champ Nick Lee places third in Olympic trials

FORT WORTH, Texas – Nick Lee is motivated, determined, and focused.

Greg Schaefer, Mater Dei wrestling coach, knew Lee was special even in elementary school.

“Nick has always been one of those kids other kids look up to,” Schäfer said. “He’s a good student, a good athlete. He works really hard. “

When his parents saw that he wanted to excel nationally and internationally, they did everything in their power to achieve this and sent him to various travel tournaments.

“His parents were really important,” said Schäfer. “He ended up with Penn State, a leading program in the country. They also have an international training center. That helped him prepare to pursue his Olympic dream. “

But Lee, a four-time All-American at Penn State, saw his hopes of competing in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics weaken Friday night. It was decided 8: 3 by Jordan Oliver from the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club in the second round of the men’s Freestyle 65kg Olympic Team Trials Challenge tournament.

Lee, who became the first former Mater Dei wrestler to win an individual college wrestling championship on March 20 with 141 pounds, lost Oliver with a jolt.

“I would say it is sure to be a fun tournament and a lot of fun this year as the Nittany Lions Wrestling Club (NLWC) sent 14 athletes, including three national champions from two weeks ago,” Lee told Courier & Press by texting . “It’s definitely different from a college season tournament and the competition is very good, but that’s what makes the sport so fun.”

Lee won 12-2 on Saturday afternoon with a technical crash against Nahshon Garrett from TMWC / SERTC and then decided in 2019 world team member Zain Retherford from TMWC / NLWC 10-4, both in the consolation class.

He decided TMWC / Spartan Combat’s Yianni Diakominhalis 16-8 in the third place match to secure a place on the US national team and is third on the Olympic team ladder.

Lee, who wrestled for Mater Dei, won an individual state championship in the 132-pound division under Schäfer’s guidance in 2015 and finished second in 16, both at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

“Nick was one of those kids who did the right thing,” said Schäfer. “He was a good student. He always wanted to be a student. He likes to learn, be it philosophy or history.”

Lee was obviously a student on the mat too.

“The biggest thing about Nick was his focus and his hard work,” said Schäfer. “He has a lot of gasoline in the tank. He can work hard for a long time. “

Lee, who competed for NLWC, won the first round of the Olympic Trials 14-2 on Friday morning against Mitchell McKee of the Gopher Wrestling Club.

“Nick obviously has many qualities that make him a national and global athlete,” said Schäfer. “He has a good balance, phenomenal technique and is deceptively strong. If you’ve ever trained with him or watched him compete, you also know he has an engine that won’t stop. ”

What could be more important is his work ethic, commitment and ability to focus on his goals, Schäfer said.

“You will never meet someone who will surpass Nick,” he said.

Lee was always wise beyond his years, said Schäfer.

“I know his parents always emphasized the importance of a good education,” he said. “It seems he was able to transfer the same desire to study in the classroom to the wrestling mat. Nick is a true student of the sport – he never stops learning. “

More:Penn State’s Nick Lee is Mater Dei’s first national wrestling champion

More:Matt Lee continues Mater Dei, the family wrestling tradition

Lee became the first Mater Dei wrestler to win an NCAA singles title with a 4-2 overtime win over Iowa’s Jaydin Eierman in the £ 141 division of the 2021 NCAA Championships on March 20 in St. Louis. He finished fifth in the NCAAs in 2018 as an absolute freshman and 19 runner-up in his sophomore year. Lee finished runner-up in the 2020 NCAA championships, but the tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Contact Gordon Engelhardt at [email protected] or on Twitter @EngGordon

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