HALL OF FAME: High School Excellence Award expands to females, as 55 Senior athlete boys and girls honored2014 High School Excellence Award expands to include six female state winners; Fifty-five senior student-athletes honored; Male regional winners announced
STILLWATER, Okla. – For the first time, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum will honor female high school wrestlers with the inaugural Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award. The Saunders Award exactly mirrors the criteria of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award which has been given annually since 1996.
Originally created in honor of Schultz, an Olympic and World champion, the High School Excellence Award is based on excellence in wrestling, scholastic achievement, citizenship and community service. State winners for both the Schultz and Saunders Awards have been selected in each of the states that sponsor high school state championships. For the boys, there are 49 state winners. For the girls, there are six, from California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.
“All of our board members are excited women’s wrestling participation in the United States has grown to the point that we can honor at least six state winners with the new award,” said Terry Shockley, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “It is our hope more states will sponsor state high school wrestling championships for girls in the future.”
Saunders was the first U.S. woman to win a World championship, winning four, and the first to be inducted as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. With 11 U.S. national titles, she never lost to an American opponent. She is considered to be the greatest women’s wrestler in American history.
“From the time she was in elementary school wrestling at a very high level against male competition, Tricia Saunders has been a role model for female wrestlers,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “It is more than fitting that the High School Excellence Award for girls be named in her honor.”
A national winner of the Saunders Award will be named from the six state winners. For the Schultz Award, five regional winners have been announced. The national winners of both High School Excellence Awards will be presented at Honors Weekend in Stillwater on June 20-21.
“The performance of these student-athletes reflects our sport’s future, a future of highly talented and resilient men and women who are driven to excel on and off the mat,” Smith said. “Americans can take pride in knowing that these award recipients demonstrate a level of ambition and character qualities that make for great leaders, the same level of ambition and character qualities that fueled both Dave Schultz and Tricia Saunders for whom this award is named.”
Since the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award’s inception, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame has recognized 824 wrestlers.
“These student-athletes are role models who influence young people in a very meaningful way,” Smith said. “Statistics show that both male and female students are more likely to stay in school, graduate and become more productive citizens when they participate in extra-curricular activities and after school programs like wrestling.”
The five male regional winners for 2014 are:
Central Region: Bo Nickal is a three-time Texas High School State Champion, who compiled a 183-7 record at Allen High School with 131 of those victories coming by fall. Nickal became a USA Wrestling Triple Crown Winner at the cadet level in 2012. In 2013, Nickal took home the 170-pound title at the FILA Cadet Championships and Junior Freestyle Nationals. That same year, he took fifth at FILA Cadet World Championships. During his freshman and sophomore years, he played for the Allen High School football team. A two-time recipient of the Allen High School PTSA Citizenship Award, Nickal served as a Boys to Men mentor as well as a volunteer at Allen Community Outreach. He is also an active member of the Allen area Young Life Youth Organization. The senior has maintained a 3.85 GPA and will be attending Penn State University this fall as a projected 174 pounder.
Midwest Region: Micah Jordan is a four-time Ohio High School State Champion as well as the Outstanding Wrestler for the 2014 state tournament. During his time at St. Paris Graham High School, Jordan strung together a 187-9 record with 134 career pins. His senior year, he went 48-0 with all but six of his bouts ending in pins. Jordan was the 2013 Ironman Champion at 145 pounds. He volunteers with Community Train Rides assisting the elderly and is also a part of the high school yearbook staff and a counselor for the Jeff Jordan State Champ Camp. Jordan is ranked 11th in his class of 120 students. He has accumulated a 3.83 GPA and will join his brother, Bo, at Ohio State University in the fall as a projected 141 pounder.
Northeast Region: Chance Marsteller is a four-time Pennsylvania High School State Champion, earning the Outstanding Wrestler Award three times at the event. While at Kennard-Dale High School, he put together an unblemished 166-0 record. In 2012, he claimed his second-straight Freestyle Cadet national championship. He also snatched the 2011 Greco-Roman Cadet National Championship. Marsteller was most recently named the 2014 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Wrestler of the Year by USAToday and was honored by Intermat as the 2014 Wrestler of the Year. The Fawn Grove, Pa., native established the Pride Wrestling Club to help train and coach wrestlers ages 8-18. He also volunteers as a coach with Kennard-Dale Youth Wrestling. He carries a 3.33 GPA and will attend Oklahoma State University this fall as a projected 174 pounder.
Southeast Region: Brandon Womack is a six-time Alabama High School State Champion, capturing the Most Outstanding Wrestler honor five times. While at Scottsboro High School, Womack compiled a 422-8 record, including a perfect 77-0 record his senior year, with 68 matches resulting in falls. During his career, Womack notched 37 tournament wins and 22 OW honors. He is highly involved in the community, volunteering with organizations such as CASA, the American Heart Association and the local youth wrestling program. He is also a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society and Student Government Association. Womack is ranked 28th in his class with a 3.9 GPA and will attend Cornell University in the fall as a projected 165 pounder.
West Region: Nick Nevills is a three-time California High School State Champion with a career record of 200-5 at Clovis High School in Clovis, Calif. Upon ending his high school career, Nevills set the all-time career pin record for the state of California with 146 falls. He was also a star football player at Clovis High as he was named All-Conference Football Lineman of the Year his senior year. Nevills is an active member of the Class of 2014 Club. He has served as a speaker at local elementary and intermediate schools for Drug Awareness Week and Character Counts as well as for Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He maintains a 3.6 GPA and has been a member of the California Scholarship Federation for five semesters. Nevills will attend Penn State University this fall as a projected heavyweight.
The 2014 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award Winners by State, Name and School are:
Alabama, Brandon Womack, Scottsboro High School
Alaska, Isaac Deaton, Valdez High School
Arizona, Ethan Tursini, Corona de Sol High School
Arkansas, Tyler Mann, Central High School
California, Nick Nevills, Clovis High School
Colorado, P.T. Garcia, Bear Creek High School
Connecticut, Kevin Jack, Danbury High School
Delaware, Brent Fleetwood, Smyrna High School
Florida, James Flint, Brandon High School
Georgia, Chip Ness, Buford High School
Hawaii, Josh Terao, Mid-Pacific Institute
Idaho, Hayden Tuma, Centennial High School
Illinois, Josh Alber, Dakota High School
Indiana, Stevan Micic, Hanover Central High School
Iowa, Marcus Harrington, Waterloo West High School
Kansas, Dustin Williams, Gardner-Edgerton High School
Kentucky, Brock Ervin, Union County High School
Louisiana, Cody Hill, Live Oak High School
Maine, Colin Sevigney, Wells High School
Maryland, Alfred Bannister, Bishop McNamara High School
Massachusetts, Christian Monserrat, Methuen High School
Michigan, Zac Hall, St. Johns High School
Minnesota, Tommy Thorn, St. Michael-Albertville High School
Missouri, Daniel Lewis, Blue Springs High School
Montana, Brandon Weber, Forsyth High School
Nebraska, Will Schany, Blair High School
Nevada, Josh Temple, Green Valley High School
New Hampshire, Tyler Fitzpatrick, Timberlane High School
New Jersey, Anthony Giraldo, North Bergen High School
New Mexico, Koery Windham, St. Michael’s High School
New York, William Koll, Lansing High School
North Carolina, Jacob Grigg, East Gaston High School
North Dakota, Ryan Blees, Bismark High School
Ohio, Micah Jordan, Graham High School
Oklahoma, Gary Wayne Harding, Collinsville High School
Oregon, Tyler Berger, Crook County High School
Pennsylvania, Chance Marsteller, Kennard Dale High School
Rhode Island, Christian LaBrie, Exeter-West Greenwich High School
South Carolina, Patrick James, West Oak High School
South Dakota, Ryan Schuman, Tri-Valley High School
Tennessee, Adam Connell, McCallie High School
Texas, Bo Nickal, Allen High School
Utah, Dusty Hone, Cedar City High School
Vermont, Jesse Web, Mount Anthony Union High School
Virginia, Coy Ozias, Christiansburg High School
Washington, Ryan Christensen, Woodinville High School
West Virginia, Dalton George, Williamstown High School
Wisconsin, Jens Lantz, Ellsworth High School
Wyoming, Bryce Meredith, Cheyenne Central High School
The 2014 Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award Winners by State, Name and School are:
California, Marina Doi, Kingsburg High School
Hawaii, Shannon Pa’aaina, Mid-Pacific Institute
Oregon, Kiera Gabaldon, North Salem High School
Tennessee, Lyssa Maki, Northeast High School
Texas, Taylor Alva, Cypress Woods High School
Washington, Kiaya Van Scoyoc, Lakes High School