An Open Letter to Pennsylvania Wrestling on DeSanto vs. Lee

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Following the finals I tweeted out the news of Spencer Lee’s injury.

I was scrutinized for releasing the information on his injury directly after his first career loss which some took as a sleight of Austin DeSanto. My intentions were to provide news of the injury and not take anything away from the accomplishments of Austin DeSanto. Having known about the injury for several weeks there was much debate as to when was the most appropriate, if ever, a time to release that information.

Austin had no idea that Spencer Lee was injured and he still made the stunning decision to drop down and face the wrestler who tech-falled him in the State Finals a year ago. That in itself is a testament to his character. DeSanto would have been fairly favored at 132 lbs. to win a State Championship and many said he was giving up the chance to finish his career a PIAA State Champion. 

As Colton Dunkle pointed out on Twitter maybe I was bitter.

As humans, we all hold biases, both implicit and explicit. When it comes to Spencer Lee I am biased. I would be lying to say I was not upset or even stunned by what transpired on Saturday evening. Since I started covering and following the career of Spencer, back when he was a youth wrestler in Saegertown, I have formed a unique relationship with the decorated wrestler and his family. This is the reason why when Spencer qualified to compete in the UWW Junior World Championships, I wanted to document the journey and tell the story of Spencer and his rare life.    Obviously I had a dog in the fight but that shouldn’t take away from an incredible performance by a determined and brave Austin DeSanto. The way in which Austin conducted himself following the finals was remarkable. He has shown so much respect for Spencer Lee throughout both their careers and that resonated on Saturday night when speaking with him.

Both decisions, Austin’s to drop down and Spencer’s to push on, are impressive and should be celebrated. They will go down as two of Pennsylvania’s most impressive wrestlers regardless of what happens from this point forward.

They each have represented Pennsylvania Wrestling in the best way possible and I feel fortunate to have witnessed both compete over the last 4 years.


-Jeff Upson

About the Author:

Owner & Operator of PA Power Wrestling • 2015 PA Wrestling "Person of the Year" • Former Central Dauphin Wrestler


  1. Derek Stewart 03/13/2017 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    No Losers in this match…. what a great thing for High school wrestling in PA….. for Spencer Lee to lay it on the line, knowing he wasnt 100%, and then not make excuses….CHAMPION….for Desanto’s relentless pursuit to wrestle the best PA has to offer…CHAMPION!

  2. Bob Trump 03/13/2017 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Was surprised how he wrestled in Semis

  3. Teressa DeRoos 03/13/2017 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Well said. But let’s not forget the character that Spencer Lee showed by how he accepted the stunning loss and the cheers for DeSanto There was no screaming and cussing or slamming of head gear. He got up with dignity and stood on that podium. A true all around winner

  4. Adam 03/13/2017 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    I completely understand Jeff’s position. It’s just a very sad situation. You want both wrestlers to be healthy and wrestle well without any controversy. Unfortunately that did not happen. The refs messed up several times for and against both wrestlers. Spencer was obviously not able to wrestle the way we know he can. As a fan of his, I feel robbed of what could have been but I also acknowledge DeSanto’s choice to go down in weight and his humble nature in victory. DeSanto is a great kid and a great wrestler. He should be applauded and I wish him well in college. However the backlash that Spencer is receiving is sickening. Put yourself in his shoes. He thought he could gut out a win on a bum knee without alerting his opponents how badly he was hurt. He couldn’t stop his quest for 4 without at least trying. It didn’t go his way. The fact that he has a torn ACL is news, plain and simple. If he has surgery for it (which seems likely), is he supposed to hide that fact and go into hiding leaving us wondering why he’s not wrestling for 9-12 months? Jeff did nothing wrong. If you’re a DeSanto fan be happy for his win and leave it at that. No need to be upset with Jeff or Spencer or anyone. There is a huge void in wrestling news and Jeff fills that void very admirably. I thank him for all his hard work and wish Spencer a full recovery no matter how long it takes.

  5. Susan Downey 03/13/2017 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    I have loved watching wrestling since 1966 when my cousin made his first mat appearance. As a girl at that time I could wrestle with my cousins on the Resolite mat in the basement, but would never be allowed on a team, different times.
    The Lee- DeSanto match was one of the finest I have ever seen. I wanted to cheer and cry at the same time. This represented to me the purest of the thrill of victory and agony of defeat.
    Choices were made by each- to change weight and wrestle with injury. One choice was better than the other and came down to one second.
    Will be looking forward to watching these men in college.

  6. Mike 03/13/2017 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    The only person who should have revealed the injury that soon after the match should have be Spence Lee himself.

  7. Bruce Hineline 03/13/2017 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Good match well deserved win.

  8. LeRoy Wagner 03/13/2017 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    I am a father of a senior this year who a week before the northwest regional championships broke his hand the feelings I had as a father and coach were heartbreaking but we decided to tape it up and give it a try he was able to get thru the regional tournament and qualify for states we gave it a go at states but he ended up losing his first two matches and was eliminated from the tournament the whole experience allowed me to watch my child grow from a boy to a man and I will always be indepted to the sport for that I am sure that there were a lot of different injuries that we were not aware of but everyone of those young men deserve a lot of praise

  9. Shawn Ritter 03/13/2017 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    What an accomplishment for both. DeSanto on the match itself and Spencer for his courage and to think he teched 2 kids and kept a kid scoreless in the semi’s. Great heart!!!!

  10. Dean 03/13/2017 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    I think we should all be grateful that we witnessed two of the best wrestlers and one of the best high school wrestling matches in recent history. I thank you Spencer Lee and I thank you Austin DeSanto, for showing us the best of the best. You are both a class act.
    Thank you Jeff, for bringing us one of the best wrestling web sites on the planet.

  11. Rod 03/13/2017 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    I wrestled my senior year with a torn ACL. I tore in December 1987, had the ACL removed 5 days later. Braced it up with a Lennox Hill Knee Brace 5 weeks later. I have trouble with the torn ACL in the reports. I only question it because of the type of brace he is wearing. Sever sprain I can get behind. If you tear an ACL that means you have no lateral support, without a brace (like the NFL lineman all wear), one that limits your movement there is no way the knee would not keep popping out of place. Once the knee starts popping out of place the other ligaments start spraining or tearing. I’m looking at the brace, I don’t see the mechanical parts limiting movements restrictions in this brace. The dude is still all everything and as a former wrestler, I think the world of the kid regardless. If his knee is truly torn and he didn’t have braced properly then he is a freak of nature. If he had a severely sprained ACL it is still truly amazing that he could get it on like he did. He is a great champion and will get the knee fixed and go on to an incredible career at Iowa and beyond.

  12. Tom Boyle 03/13/2017 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    So much of what has been said is true and some not so true. The fact is there was so many aspects of the human condition on display, competition, victory, loss, virtue, dignity, honor, disbelief, distortion and error. The truth is both wrestlers were victorious. They both learned so much about themselves , about the world and the microcosm of sport. Spencer lost an opportunity to be undefeated in high school wrestling, that’s true but he gained an opportunity to show the wrestling world that he is a man of honor. It was a tough moment for him right after dissents had his hand raised but (like so many others in every level of sport) he didn’t react, he gave it time and found it inside himself, the real Spencer Lee and acted with maturity, honor and great sportsmanship. He won a lot more than he lost. That kind of character building opportunity is rare, all the chips on the table in the World Series of Poker, 4th and goal in the Superbowl with 4 seconds left, A hamlet in Afghanistan, you’re squad is under murderous fire, it’s your move, last match of a distinguished career at Iowa State, same young man dropping down a weight to wrestle you and you’re name is Gable and you lose, all moments in the crucible of competition where the pressure is inconceivable, That’s where great men are formed.

  13. Matman 03/13/2017 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    The bottom line for me personally is that I want my son to be like Spencer AND Austin.

    The best I can tell from what my son and I witnessed in Hershey on Saturday is that they are more similar than they are different.

    How ironic, given the vast differences of the critics who were not on the mat (arena) Saturday night.

    Spencer and Austin, my message to you both is that it is not the critic who matters. Thank you both for showing my son and I what true dedication, humility and courage looks like.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

    Theodore Rosevelt

  14. Kevin ryan 03/13/2017 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    Amen they made the wrestling world come to life for one night two warriors almost a David and goliath scenario they battled to the end . One second decided the out come. right now Lee might not know but he will be a greater man wrestler and leader in life because of the loss. Desanto accomplished something that may not ever be accomplished again at least not in my life time. Jeff did his a person l see nothing but GREATNESS out of everything that transpired . All I can say that I was blessed to witness the AA -AAA. Finals of 2017 with my family it was a real HONOR.

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