The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Wednesday announced the state 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.
TSHSEA regional winners are scheduled to be announced on July 28 and the national winner on August 11. Regional winners are selected from state winners, and the national winner will be chosen from the regional winners.
State winners of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award were announced on Tuesday with the regional winners scheduled to be announced on July 27 and the national winner on August 10.
The TSHSEA recognizes and celebrates the nation’s most outstanding high school senior female wrestlers for their excellence in wrestling, scholastic achievement, citizenship, and community service.
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.
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.
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.
“This year has been so hard for so many seniors whose seasons and state championships were either shortened, postponed, or canceled as a result of the pandemic,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Lee Roy Smith. “Despite the many challenges they encountered, these student-athletes demonstrated tremendous resolve while working to achieve their academic and athletic goals.
“In recognition of their fortitude, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame is excited to recognize these young women with our Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award, and we wish them continued success, on and off the mat.”
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