DES MOINES – Duncan Lee’s rise from a winless sophomore campaign to a state-tournament qualifying junior year has been well-documented.
Hard work in the weight room and on the wrestling mats this past offseason has paid dividends for the Newton High junior.
Thursday, Lee took another step forward with a dominating win in the opening round of the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships.
Lee got out to a quick start with an early first-period takedown and cruised to a 7-0 victory over Johnston’s Boris Petrusic in a Class 3A 195-pound match. He led 5-0 after two periods and was never really challenged by Petrusic, who defeated Lee 8-4 earlier this season.
“It was big, getting that first takedown and being able ride him out the rest of the period felt really good,” said Lee of his quick start. “The environment here is awesome so it was big for me to get off to a fast start.”
Lee did not win a match last year as a 160-pound sophomore. His win Thursday pushed him to 25-10 on the season.
“It goes back to the offseason,” Newton head coach Andy Swedenhjelm said. “He is in the weight room every day and wasn’t going to settle for mediocre or average. He put in the time. He shows up every day, goes hard every day and does all the little things that we ask him to do. It has paid dividends.”
Not only did Lee improve immensely this past offseason, Swedenhjelm said the improvement the junior made during the year should not go unnoticed.
Lee said his conditioning, defense and overall ability to ride out his opponents has gotten much better since facing Petrusic back in early December.
“He has only lost four matches since Christmas break,” Swedenhjelm said. “We saw some tendencies on film and we were able to take advantage of those adjustments and things worked well for Duncan today.”
Going from no wins last year to a state tournament berth this season was always the goal for Lee.
“I never really knew what would happen after last year, but it feels good to see the hard work pay off,” Lee said.
Lee’s next opponent will be one of the tournament’s favorites to win the 195-pound title in North Scott’s Colin Kreiter. Kreiter takes a 41-1 record into Friday’s quarterfinal after a 12-4 major-decision first-round win over Epworth Western Dubuque's Ryan Kenneally.
“I know he weighs 195 pounds and I know he wrestles,” Lee said. “That’s all I need to know really. Whether he is ranked second or 200th doesn’t really matter to me that much. I just have to wrestle my best. Crazy things happen at state.”
Swedenhjelm added, “Once you get to the state meet, you won’t have any easy matches. We expect another tough opponent, tough match.”
Friday’s 3A quarterfinals and second-round consolations begin at 9 a.m. The semifinals and third-round consolations will start at 2:30 p.m.