PG Athletes of the Week: Spencer Lee, Bailey Bonnett
March 12, 2014 9:36 PM
Chris Knight/Associated Press
Franklin Regional's Spencer Lee, left, has his hand raised in victory after defeating General McLane's Joe Wheeling during their 113-pound finals match in the PIAA 3A wrestling championships in Hershey, Pa., Saturday, March 8, 2014.
Bailey Bonnett, a student and member of the Highlands High School swimming team. She is the Post-Gazette Female High School Athlete of the Week for March 13, 2014.
By Ryan Riordan and Brad Everett / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Spencer Lee, Franklin Regional
Last week: Lee, a freshman and the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the country at 113 pounds, beat Joe Wheeling of General McLane, 15-5 in the championship at the PIAA Class AAA tournament at Giant Center in Hershey, Pa., to finish 49-0. In addition to the major decision in the final, Lee (49-0) recorded a pin and two technical falls in his other three tournament matches.
Check this out: Lee’s mother, Cathy, was an alternate on the U.S. Olympic judo team in 1992. One of her coaches? Larry Lee, Spencer’s father. The two met at practice and eventually got married.
•Does your parents’ judo background help you on the mat? My genetics are pretty good. I have good hips and people don’t throw me. My parents taught me some judo throws that I use.
•What did it feel like to win the PIAA title? It felt good. It was a goal of mine. Maybe I didn’t show a lot of emotion on the mat, but I did once I got off it.
•Did you indulge in any foods afterward that maybe you couldn’t during the season? I had dessert. I kind of eat what I want because I don’t really cut weight. So my diet is usually meat and pasta without the dessert.
•What are your goals in wrestling? I want to be an undefeated four-time state champion. But I’m going to take it one match at a time.
•How did you feel when wrestling was dropped as an Olympic sport [it since has been restored]? I just thought it was the stupidest thing. It’s the dream of so many kids and, personally, I think it’s one of the toughest sports.
•Who is the toughest wrestler you have faced? Mahir Amiraslanov of Azerbaijan [who beat Lee at the Cadet World Championships in 2013].
•What is something people may not know about you? I’m kind of a nerd. I love to read books.
•What’s your favorite book? I like “Eragon” and “The Lord of the Rings,” books like that.
Bailey Bonnett, Highlands
Recently: Bonnett won the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle at the WPIAL Class AA swimming championships Feb. 27-28 at Pitt’s Trees Pool.
Check this out: Just a freshman, Bonnett already has established herself as one of the WPIAL’s rising stars. She dominated in dual meets and is the No. 3 seed in the 200 IM and 500 freestyle at PIAA Class AA championships Friday and Saturday at Bucknell University. At the WPIAL championships, Bonnett finished the 200 IM in 2:06.12 and the 500 freestyle in 5:00.24. Bonnett’s coach, Beth (Karaica) Brancato, is a 1996 Highlands graduate, who followed a terrific high school career by becoming an All-American at the University of Nebraska.
•Did you expect to have this much success as a freshman? I never really thought I would do that well at WPIALs. I worked hard to get where I got.
•How nervous were you at the WPIAL championships? Very nervous. I’m always nervous, though. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dual meet or a big meet.
•Since you took up the sport, what is the longest you have gone without swimming? I’d say when I was little, probably like two or three weeks. Now that I’m older, I’m only getting a week off because of making nationals and other meets.
•When you stay at a hotel or go on vacation, do you use the pool? (Laughs) Yeah. I do, actually.
•Your coach is also an outstanding swimmer. Ever race her? A couple of times at practice she has gotten in with us, but I don’t think we’ve ever raced.
•We hear there are a lot of ‘Bs’ in your family? Yeah, my dad’s name is Brad. I’m the oldest of my sisters. My sister, Bria, is 12. The next one is Brenna, and she is 9. The little one is Bella, who is 5. And then my mom’s name is Jennifer. It’s really funny because all of our names start with ‘B’ except my mom.
•Do you listen to music before meets? I really don’t. I know it’s weird, but I like to get in a zone.
•Worst thing about being a freshman? I think it’s just being the youngest in the school.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.