East Xtra: Franklin phenom Lee seeks a world Cadet wrestling title

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Kennard-Dale senior Chance Marsteller had just won his fourth PIAA Class AAA wrestling title at the Giant Center in Hershey and completed his high school career with an unblemished 166-0 record when one of the many media members asked for his thoughts on Franklin Regional freshman Spencer Lee.

"Spencer Lee is going to be way better than I am," said Marsteller, one of only 12 wrestlers in PIAA history to win four titles. "He's one of the most explosive wrestlers I've ever seen. He's an absolute animal. I love that kid, he's awesome."

Lee made his debut for the Panthers as a 113-pound freshman and turned in one of the most impressive performances in state history. He finished with a 49-0 record, which included 28 pins, 12 technical falls, five major decisions, and three forfeits.

"My goal is to pin every opponent I face," Lee said. "I wrestle the Iowa style. I like to pound people on top. There's not a better feeling when you break your opponent when he's on the bottom. My mindset is to beat on my opponent until he breaks down or makes a mistake."

Lee had only one bout end via regular decision, a 9-5 win against Greater Latrobe's Ethan McCoy in the finals of the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Tournament. Lee faced McCoy three more times during the season and recorded two major decisions and one technical fall.

Lee also won titles at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament and the Powerade Christmas Tournament. He was the first freshman in the history of the Ironman Tournament to be named Most Valuable Wrestler.

After winning the Ironman Tournament, Lee said his goal was to be a "four-time PIAA undefeated champion."

Only five wrestlers have won four PIAA titles and finished their careers undefeated, with Marsteller being the most recent.

"I want to be a four-time, undefeated PIAA champion," Lee reiterated after the state tournament, but also reminded everyone of a goal that could be attained much sooner. "I also want to become a Cadet World Champion."

Lee had that chance last summer, prior to his freshman year at Franklin Regional, as he placed fifth in the 50-kilo (110.25 pounds) weight class at the Cadet World Championships, which took place at Zrenianin, Serbia.

"I teched my first two opponents, from Romania and Iran, then lost to a wrestler from Azerbaijan," Lee said. "He went on to finish second and I finished seventh."

Lee will have another chance to attain his goal of becoming a Cadet World Champion later this month when he travels to Snina, Slovakia, for the 2014 championships, which take place beginning next Tuesday and continue through July 20. He qualified by totally dominating the field at the FILA World Qualifier, which took place May 23-25 in Akron, Ohio.

"I teched all of my opponents and gave up only one point," said Lee, who outscored his opponents, 71-1, to easily qualify again. "I'm really looking forward to the tournament. I've been training since the high school season ended."

Lee's trip begins with a training camp at the Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"[The United States team] also had a week of training, a couple weeks ago, at the University of Wisconsin," Lee said. "The next week I was invited to train in Arizona for a week with Olympians like Jordan Burroughs. I was the youngest kid there."

When he's home, he trains with the Young Guns Wrestling Club.

"Spencer challenges himself all the time," Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. "He's always looking to get better. Even at practice, he competes against teammates much bigger than him. It was a lot of fun watching him this year. I'm looking forward to the next three years."

Lee's accomplishments as a freshman are even more impressive when one realizes he could have been wrestling in the 106-pound weight class.

"I could have competed at 106 last year, but wrestled at 113 because it helped our team," said Lee, noting that Panthers teammate Devin Brown claimed the PIAA title at 106. "I haven't decided which weight to compete at [during the upcoming season], but I will be making the choice this time."

Both Lee and Brown transferred from the Saegertown School District last summer. Brown won a PIAA Class AA title at Saegertown in 2013, while Lee was in eighth grade.

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