FARGO, N.D. – Wiping the smile off of Miles Lee’s face on Monday night at the Fargodome might have proved even more difficult than taking him down.
Neither happened as the PIAA fifth-place finisher from South Philadelphia booked his spot in the 195-pound title match of the Marines Junior Freestyle National Championship.
“The victory was awesome, man!” Lee said after his 6-2 victory over Georgia’s Matthew Waddell in the semifinals. “Once again, I’d like to thank everybody who helped me out, had my back all along with this. People who supported me – Drexel, UPenn, Beat the Streets, Upper Darby, Lower Merion – people who just helped me out and helped me get where I needed to be in this sport. I’m just blessed. I’m just blessed where I’m at right now. I’m happy. This is a good moment today.”
There have been plenty of good moments in the tournament for Lee, who has outscored opponents 55-7 on his way to the finals – in large part because of a gut wrench that opponents have been almost powerless to stop. Lee used it again against Waddell.
A third-palce finisher last year, Lee trailed 1-0 at the break after failing to score while on the shot clock, but he took control in the second period. He grabbe the lead with a go-behind from a front headlock, then extended his lead to 5-1.
“What happened was, we both shot,” Lee said. “We bumped heads. I guess he got kind of woozy. I had his leg up in the air. When I knew I had that point, I was like, ‘I’ve got to go for the gut wrench.’ ”
Lee, as he has done so many other times in this tournament, got the gut wrench. Unlike many of the others, he stopped at one, but that was enough.
“I was really tired after the gut wrench,” he said. “At the same time, I thought, ‘I came here for a reason. I trained all summer in the offseason for this. I did everything because of this tournament, to get ready for it. “
He gave up a point at the end, but it didn’t matter. Lee slapped the mat with both hands and let out a celebratory scream.
“Achieving my goal, finally – making it to the finals,” he said of what prompted the outburst. “Hopefully, be a national champ.”
Standing in his way is Illinois’ Jacob Warner, an Iowa recruit who beat Team PA member Jake Woodley in the other semifinal.
“Against a tough opponent, I’ll try my best, and I’ll be ready for him,” Lee said. “Have some fun, rock and roll and get ready to wrestle.”
Team PA Fargo Junior National Results