I'm honestly not sure where to start this letter, Spencer. I guess I'll just begin by saying thank you.

Even though I know your Iowa wrestling career isn't over, yesterday was our last opportunity to see you do your work inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Sometimes you make it look effortless, but we all know the truth. We know what you've been through.

Two cracked ribs couldn't keep you from a cadet and junior world title in 2014. In 2015, you fought through a torn labrum in a shoulder to win another title. Three Pennsylvania high school state titles before that first ACL tear during your senior season. Three takedowns allowed your entire high school career before that final match at state. A 144-1 high school career record.

They don't make movies about high schoolers, but they made one about you.

Is there anyone else who could have surgery to repair a torn ACL and then win the national championship as a true freshman in college? Possibly, but I doubt anyone else would've scored just one decision while getting two technical falls and two pins at the national tournament that first season after the surgery. That was just the beginning:

  • Another national title in March of 2019.
  • COVID and the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament in 2020.
  • A third national championship in early 2021, with torn ACL's in both knees.
  • Battling to try to wrestle last season, starting 3-0 before, ultimately, deciding you needed surgery. The lengthy rehab you had to endure, and then this season...
  • A 15-0 record, extending your winning streak to 52 matches. And that final, unforgettable moment at Carver-Hawkeye yesterday:

Finishing as you started in front of the black-and-gold-clad fans:

A career with twenty-eight first-period pins, 11 of them in under one minute. A 93-5 career record and 26 victories and no defeats inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

We know this is only the beginning, and not just for this season. The Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor (March 4 and 5) and the NCAA Championships in Tulsa (March 16 through 18) await. We have no doubt you'll become the first Hawkeye wrestler to win four national titles, and only the fifth man to do it.

When you flashed the sign of love to us after the match on Sunday (photo below), I  know you realized the roaring ovation was us returning the love to you. Thank you for the excitement, the passion, and all the memories. Whether you're chasing a world championship or an Olympic gold in the future, we'll still be watching. I suspect you'll be able to feel our cheers, even though you may not be able to hear them.


LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.

CHECK IT OUT: 100 sports records and the stories behind them

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