Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award regional winners announced

Katerina Lange recognized as Midwest Region winner

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Wednesday announced the regional winners of the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award (TSHSEA).

The award recognizes and celebrates the nation’s most outstanding high school senior female wrestlers for their excellence in wrestling, scholastic achievement, citizenship, and community service.

First presented in 2014, the TSHSEA is named for Tricia Saunders, a four-time World Champion, and women’s wrestling pioneer. Saunders was the first woman to be inducted as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2006 and was inducted into the United World Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011.

The national winner of the TSHSEA will be announced on August 11.

Regional winners of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award were announced on Tuesday with the national winner scheduled to be announced on August 10.

For the third consecutive year, the Hall of Fame is recognizing a record number of state winners with 47, up from 46 in 2020, 35 in 2019, and 32 in 2018.

Women’s wrestling is one of the fastest-growing high school sports with participation growing by 71 percent in the last two years to more than 28,000 female high school wrestlers competing across the nation.

Winners are evaluated and selected on the basis of three criteria: success and standout performances and sportsmanship in wrestling; review of GPA and class rank, academic honors and distinctions; and participation in activities that demonstrate commitment to character and community.

The regions and the states that they are comprised of are:

West (11) – Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming

Midwest (10) – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin

Central (7) – Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Southeast (10) – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia

Northeast (8) – Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island

2021 Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award Regional Winners

Central Region: Olivia Brown of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, was an Oklahoma state girls champion in 2021 and 2020 for Broken Arrow High School. The top-ranked 200-pound wrestler in the National Girls High School Rankings, she will continue her wrestling career at Grand View University. The daughter of Michael T. Brown and Suzanne M. Caruso, she was Miss Wrestling Oklahoma in 2021 and the Joey Miller Wrestler of the Year in 2020. She was a National Cadet champion in freestyle and folkstyle in 2018 and 2019. Brown finished second at the Folkstyle Nationals in 2019 and fourth in 2018 while finishing third at Freestyle Nationals in 2019 and seventh in 2018. Brown received the John and Jonna Cockrell Award of Excellence in 2020 and was also named Most Valuable Junior Wrestler for Broken Arrow in 2020. She was Wrestler of the Year at Holland Hall in 2018. She was team captain for Broken Arrow from 2019 to 2021 after being team captain at Holland Hall from 2017 to 2019. Brown also lettered in softball two years and in track for one year at Holland Hall. A National Honor Society officer, Brown was AP English Student of the Year in 2019-20 and Magna Cum Laude in 2018-19 and Maxima Cum Laude in 2017-18 for the National Latin Examination. She has volunteered at Bright Spot Mobile Family Services since 2017 and served on the Diversity and Inclusivity Council at Holland Hall. Brown placed second in Business Law and Ethics, sixth in Entrepreneurship and seventh in Quick Service Restaurant Management at the Oklahoma D.E.C.A. competition.

Katerina Lange 210721MKA0048
Katerina Lange

Midwest Region: Katerina Lange of Sherburn, Minnesota, was a Minnesota state girls champion for Martin County West High School in 2021. The top-ranked 144-pound wrestler in the National Girls High School Rankings and ranked 10th in the National Girls High School Pound-For-Pound Rankings, she will continue her wrestling career at Augsburg University. The daughter of Kevin and Lisa Lange, she was Ms. Minnesota – Wrestling in 2021. Competing on a boys high school team, Lange had a 4-0 varsity record and a 48-4 junior varsity record against boys. She finished second at the 2021 UWW Junior World Team Trials and will represent the United States at the Junior Pan Am Championships in Mexico this summer. Lange finished fifth at the 2021 UWW U23 World Team Trials and finished second at the UWW Junior Freestyle Nationals in 2020. She also lettered two years in cross country, two years in basketball, four years in track and field and six years in band while also being a member of 4-H and FFA. Lange has extensive volunteer work, including four years with Sherburn Civic and Commerce, six years with Yellow Ribbon Suicide and Prevention and five years with Temperance Lake Ridge Assisted Living. She was a class officer all four years of high school, including class president as a senior, while also being the class valedictorian and giving the commencement address.

Northeast Region: Ally Fitzgerald of Island Park, New York, is a two-time New York girls freestyle state champion who made history in 2020 when she became the first girl in Long Island history to qualify for the Nassau County Championships. She also made history when she placed third in the regional to qualify for state and was the first female in Long Island history to win a boys varsity tournament. She had a 7-1 record as a senior, but did not compete in the postseason because of the pandemic. Ranked third at 122 pounds in the National Girls High School Rankings, she will continue her wrestling career at Sacred Heart University. The daughter of Peter and Rebecca Fitzgerald, she finished fourth at the USA Wrestling World Team Trials in 2021 after finishing second in 2018. She won the National High School Coaches Association Nationals in 2019 and finished second in 2021. Fitzgerald was a Fargo champion in 2018 and an All-American in 2019 with a fifth-place finish. She finished second at Super 32 in 2018 and won the Eastern States championship in 2020. Fitzgerald is also a two-time Pan American champion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She volunteers at the St. Raymond’s Social Ministry Food Bank while also working with at-risk youth wrestlers and the Nassau County Police Department and Friends of Long Island Wrestling’s “Wrestling Takes Down Drugs.”

Southeast Region: Hannah Hall of Palm Harbor, Florida, finished third as a freshman before capturing three consecutive Florida girls state championships for Palm Harbor University High School. She also finished second in the boys district tournament and qualified for the boys regional tournament as a senior. Ranked fourth at 112 pounds in the National Girls High School Rankings, she will continue her wrestling career at McKendree University. The daughter of Steven and Amanda Hall, her career record was 53-1 against girls, including 40-0 the last three years, and 86-16 against boys. She won the folkstyle and freestyle titles at the Michigan Grappler tournament and was also a perfect 9-0 in the Sunshine Preseason Nationals in 2020. Hall was named Florida USA Wrestling Women’s Wrestler of the Year in 2019 while earning All-American honors at USA Wrestling’s Women’s Folkstyle Nationals, Fargo and Super 32. She was the 2019 USA Wrestling Western Region Greco-Roman champion while finishing second in freestyle and third in folkstyle. Hall was a World of Wrestling Tulsa National True 2nd and went 5-1 at the Tulsa Junior Duals in 2019. She finished second at the Michigan Grappler tournament and was the USA Wrestling Southeast Region champion in 2018. Hall volunteered at Tampa Children’s Cancer Centers carnival and at Ronald McDonald House. She constructed school supply bags for low-income children and care packages for flood victims while also assisting with two playground builds in low-income neighborhoods.

West Region: Katja Osteen of Simi Valley, California, was a California Interscholastic Federation girls state champion in 2018 and a finalist in 2020. She did not compete in the state tournament in 2019 because of injury and CIF did not compete in 2021 because of the pandemic. A three-time CIF league and master’s champion, Osteen won the USA Wrestling Freestyle National High School Showcase in 2021. Ranked third at 180 pounds in the National Girls High School Rankings, she will continue her wrestling career at Simon Fraser University. The daughter of Thomas and Cheri Osteen, she reached the semifinals of the USA Women’s Nationals/World Team Trials and ultimately finished sixth after being forced to default because of injury in consolation semifinals. Osteen was named USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week in 2018 after capturing the Cadet and Junior titles at the Folkstyle Nationals. She also reached the finals at the USA Wrestling Women’s Nationals and at Fargo in 2018. Osteen did not compete in 2019 because of an injury and did not compete in 2020 because of the pandemic. She also lettered three years and was team captain in volleyball, but was unable to compete as a senior when the pandemic prevented falls sports. Osteen competed for Chaminade College Preparatory High School as a freshman and sophomore and for Royal High School as a junior and senior. She was named Female Athlete of the Year at Chaminade and at Royal and was a member of the honor roll all four years. Osteen has volunteered with Beat the Streets Los Angeles while also helping with beach cleanups and Operation Christmas Child and volunteering as an assistant teacher and daycare at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church.

Twenty-four states have hosted an official girls championship and eight more are scheduled to host in the future. Hawaii was the first state to host a girls state championship in 1998 while Texas began its girls tournament in 1999. The number grew to six states by 2015 and has exploded in the last three years to 32 states.

States that are hosting state-sanctioned girls wrestling championships are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington. Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin are scheduled to host their first official girls tournament in 2021-22.

There are 92 intercollegiate women’s wrestling teams. The NCAA has approved “Emerging Sport Status” for women’s wrestling at the Division I, Division II and Division III levels and the NAIA also recognizes women’s wrestling as an emerging sport.

The state winners are evaluated and selected on the basis of three criteria: success and standout performances and sportsmanship in wrestling; review of GPA and class rank, academic honors and distinctions; and participation in activities that demonstrate commitment to character and community.

The Hall of Fame accepts nominations for the High School Excellence awards, and a committee, with input from Hall of Fame state chapters, selects state and regional winners. National winners are then chosen from the regional winners.

2021 Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award State Winners

State – Name, High School, Hometown, College Attending
Alabama – Jade Eldridge, Wetumpka High School, Wetumpka
Alaska – Jayleen Sekona, South Anchorage High School, Anchorage
Arizona – Carolina Moreno, Kofa High School, Somerton, Southern Oregon
Arkansas – Reyna Rogers, Arkadelphia High School, Arkadelphia
California – Katja Osteen, Royal High School, Simi Valley, Simon Fraser University
Colorado – Cayden Condit, Jefferson High School, Littleton, Lindenwood
Connecticut – Ashley Reed, Southington High School, Southington, North Central College
Florida – Hannah Hall, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, McKendree University
Georgia – Catherine Bertrand, Mount Pisgah Christian School, Dunwoody, Presbyterian College
Hawaii – Emily Paulino, Kalani High School, Honolulu, Menlo College
Idaho – Hannah Dupay, Meridian High School and Renaissance High School, Grand View University
Illinois – Mia Palumbo, Harold L. Richards High School, Oak Lawn
Indiana – Sarah Huse, Lebanon High School, Lebanon, Lourdes University
Iowa – Millie Peach, Iowa Valley High School, Marengo
Kansas – Jordyn Knecht, Paola High School, Paola
Kentucky – Hannah Thompson, Randall K. Cooper High School, Burlington, University of the Cumberlands
Louisiana – Kharma Culpepper, Live Oak High School, Walker
Maine – Anunthaya MacDonnell, Falmouth High School, Falmouth
Maryland – Julianne Moccia, John Carroll High School, Bel Air, Gannon University
Massachusetts – Sophia Matthews, Woburn Memorial High School, Woburn
Michigan – Kendra Ryan, Fenton High School, Fenton, North Central College
Minnesota – Katerina Lange, Martin County West High School, Sherburn, Augsburg University
Missouri – Jaycee Foeller, De Soto High School, De Soto, McKendree University
Montana – O’Maste-win Foster, Florence-Carlton High School, Florence
Nebraska – Ally Micheel, Sargent High School, Sargent
Nevada – Ariel Ceno, Cimarron-Memorial High School, Las Vegas, Eastern Oregon University
New Hampshire – Anna Krause, Bow High School, Bow
New Jersey – Chloe Ayers, Princeton High School, Princeton
New Mexico – Yele Aycock, Hiroshi Miyamura High School, Gallup, North Central College
New York – Alli Fitzgerald, Long Beach High School, Island Park, Sacred Heart University
North Carolina – Heaven Fitch, Uwharrie Chatier Academy, Asheboro
North Dakota – Emma Mielke, Valley City High School, Valley City
Ohio – Olivia Shore, Miami East High School, St. Paris, Tiffin University
Oklahoma – Olivia Brown, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Grand View University
Oregon – Emma Baertlein, Oregon City High School, Oregon City, Southern Oregon University
Pennsylvania – Montana DeLawder, Gettysburg Area High School, Gettysburg, King University
Rhode Island – Skylah Chakouian, East Providence High School, East Providence, Elmira College
South Carolina – Hannah Mains, Ashley Ridge High School, Ravenel, Limestone University
South Dakota – Paige Denke, Rapid City Stevens High School, Chadron, Life University
Tennessee – Shelby Zacharias, Creek Wood High School, Charlotte
Texas – Brittyn Corbishley, The Woodlands College Park High School, The Woodlands, Texas Wesleyan
Utah – Sage Mortimer, American Leadership Academy, Springville, King University
Virginia – Ava Purifoy, Mount Vernon High School, Alexandria
Washington – Claire DiCugno, White River High School, Lake Tapps, Colorado Mesa University
West Virginia – Sierramarie Miller, East Hardy High School, Wardensville
Wisconsin – Rose Ann Marshall, Stoughton Senior High School, Stoughton, Friends University
Wyoming – Emma Karhu, Powell High School, Powell

All-Time National Winners of Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award
2020 – Nanea Estrella, Lahainaluna High School, Makawao, Hawaii
2019 – Emily Shilson, Mounds View High School, North Oaks, Minnesota
2018 – Alleida Martinez, Selma High School, Selma, California
2017 – Cierra Foster, Post Falls High School, Post Falls, Idaho
2016 – Katie Brock, Sequatchie County High School, Whitwell, Tennessee
2015 – Marizza Birrueta, Grandview High School, Grandview, Washington
2014 – Marina Doi, Kingsburg High School, Kingsburg, California