Image and official release curtesy of The National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Tuesday announced the regional winners of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award (DSHSEA).
The DSHSEA was established in 1996 to honor Olympic and World champion Dave Schultz, whose career was cut short when he was murdered in January 1996. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member in 1997 and as a member of the United World Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2016.
The award recognizes and celebrates the nation’s most outstanding high school senior male wrestlers for their excellence in wrestling, scholastic achievement, citizenship, and community service.
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 national winner of the DSHSEA will be announced on August 10. The regional winners of the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award (TSHSEA) are scheduled to be announced on Wednesday. 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. The TSHSEA national winner will be announced on August 11.
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 (11) – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont
2021 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award Regional Winners
Central Region: Tate Picklo of Mustang, Oklahoma, is a two-time Oklahoma state champion and a four-time state finalist. After losing in the state finals as a freshman in 2018, he won 118 matches in a row before being forced to injury default in the state finals as a senior after re-injuring his left kneecap and being unable to continue. The son of Brian and Betty Picklo, he will continue his wrestling career at the University of Oklahoma. In 2019, he finished seventh at the Cadet Junior World Championships and was second in Greco-Roman and third in freestyle at the Cadet Nationals. Picklo won the freestyle title and finished third in Greco-Roman at the Cadet Nationals in 2018. In 2021, he was named the Jim Thorpe High School Player of the Year for wrestling and earned all-state honors. Picklo was the Class 6A Outstanding Wrestler at the 2020 Oklahoma State High School Championships and was also named All-Big City Wrestler of the Year. He ranked first in his class and was valedictorian while also serving as a leader in his youth group at Chisholm Heights Baptist Church.
Midwest Region: Alex Facundo of Davison, Michigan, is a four-time Michigan state champion who helped Davison High School capture the state team title in 2021, its first team title since 2006. The son of Pablo and Julie Facundo, he will continue his wrestling career at Penn State University. Facundo won the United World Wrestling Freestyle Championship in 2018 and 2019 and earned bronze medals at the Cadet World Championships in 2018 and 2019. He was the Freestyle Nationals champion in 2017 and won the Super 32 in 2018. He was academic all-state and selected as the Greater Flint Kiwanis Student Athlete of the Month. Facundo’s invitation to train with the USA Wrestling EAP program for a full year before the Olympics was cancelled because of the pandemic. Facundo volunteers at Lighthouse Rehabilitation Center, an organization that is very important to him as his mother suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Northeast Region: Shayne Van Ness of Branchburg, New Jersey, wrestles for Blair Academy and is a two-time National Prep Open champion. The son of Rodney and Dawn Van Ness, he will continue his wrestling career at Penn State University. Van Ness was 23-0 and won the Who’s #1 and the National Prep Open in 2019-20 while finishing 36-1 and winning Super 32, Beast of the East and the Ironman in 18-19. In 2017-18, he was 24-1 and won four tournaments. Van Ness volunteers as a Big Brother leader while also working as a tour guide.
Southeast Region: Caden McCrary of Cartersville, Georgia, is a four-time Georgia state champion who led Woodland High School to three dual and three traditional state championships. The son of Jason and Melanie McCrary, he will continue his wrestling career at the University of North Carolina. UNC is coached by Coleman Scott, who was the national winner of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award in 2004. McCrary had a career record of 182-2 while also capturing a Super 32 championship as a senior. He finished third in Greco-Roman and third in freestyle at Junior Nationals as a junior. McCrary volunteers with the United Way and his local church while also tutoring and mentoring.
West Region: Richard Figueroa II of Sanger, California, is a three-time California state champion for Selma High School. The son of Richard Figueroa and Frances Santillan, he will continue his wrestling career at Arizona State University. Figueroa did not compete in the state tournament in 2021 because the California Interscholastic Federation did not host events because of the pandemic, but did capture the Junior National Championship. He won a silver medal at the World Cadet Championships in 2018 and returned to compete in 2019. He volunteers at Panda preschool and was a member of the honor roll throughout his high school career. Figueroa has received an academic and athletic scholarship and plans to get his bachelor’s degree in criminology and his master’s degree in education-counseling.
The Hall of Fame accepts nominations for its high school excellence awards from state chapters and coaches. The nominations are reviewed by a committee, which selects state and regional winners. The committee then determines the national winners from the regional winners.
National winners of the DSHSEA award have combined to win 20 NCAA Division I individual titles led by four-time champion Logan Stieber (2010), three-time winner Zain Retherford (2013) and two-time winners Steven Mocco (2001), David Taylor (2009) and Teyon Ware (2002). The 2018 winner David Carr won a title in 2021 while 2016 winner Mark Hall II won an NCAA title as a freshman in 2017 and 2015 winner Zahid Valencia won back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019.
2021 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award State Winners
State – Name, High School, Hometown, College Attending
Alabama – Mason Blackwell, Wetumpka High School, Wetumpka
Alaska – Jared Hopkins, Colony High School, Palmer, Campbell University
Arizona – Ramon Ramos, Casteel High School, Gilbert, Arizona State
Arkansas – Caleb Winston, Greenbrier High School, Greenbrier
California – Richard Figueroa II, Selma High School, Sanger, Arizona State
Colorado – Vince Cornella, Monarch High School, Lafayette, Cornell
Connecticut – Nico Provo, Greens Farms Academy, Stutford, Cornell
Delaware – Kevin Hudson, Caesar Rodney High School, Dover
Florida – Jaekus Hines, Osceola High School, Kissimmee, Appalachian State
Georgia – Caden McCrary, Woodland High School, Dalton, University of North Carolina
Hawaii – Branden Pagurayan, Kapolei High School, Kapolei, Wyoming
Idaho – Drew Roberts, Coeur d’Alene High School, Coeur d’Alene, Minnesota
Illinois – Dean Hamiti, Joilet Catholic Academy, Joliet, University of Wisconsin
Indiana – Alex Cottey, Perry Meridian High School, Indianapolis, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga
Iowa – Drake Ayala, Fort Dodge High School, Fort Dodge, University of Iowa
Kansas – Jared Simma, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Shawnee, University of Northern Iowa
Kentucky – Spencer Moore, Walton-Verona High School, Crittenden, University of North Carolina
Louisiana – Peyton Ward, Saint Paul’s School, Covington
Maine – Joshua Cote, Noble High School, Lesanon, University of Southern Maine
Maryland – Cooper Flynn, McDonogh School, Seymour, Virginia Tech
Massachusetts – Max Leete, Danvers High School, Danvers, American University
Michigan – Alex Facundo, Davison High School, Davison, Penn State
Minnesota – Derrick Cardinal, Forest Lake High School, Forest Lake, South Dakota State
Missouri – Nathan Pulliman, Rolla High School, Rolla, University of Missouri
Montana – Cooper Birdwell, Fergus High School, Lewistown, Oklahoma State
Nebraska – Evan Canoyer, Waverly High School, Walton, Cornell University
Nevada – Devin Griffen, Spanish Springs High School, Sparks, Reinhardt University
New Hampshire – Conor Maslanek, Pelham High School, Pelham, Campbell University
New Jersey – Shayne Van Ness, Blair Academy, Branchburg, Penn State
New Mexico – Alex Holguin, Cobre High School, Bayard, Colorado Mesa University
New York – Stevo Poulin, Shenendehowa High School, Shenendehowa, North Carolina State
North Carolina – Richard Treanor, William Amos Hough High School, Cornelius, U.S. Military Academy
North Dakota – Reece Barnhardt, St. Mary’s Central High School, Bismark, University of Mary
Ohio – Padraic Gallagher, Lakewood St. Edward High School, Chesterland, Ohio State
Oklahoma – Tate Picklo, Mustang High School, Mustang, University of Oklahoma
Oregon – Chance Lamer, Crescent Valley High School, Corvallis, University of Michigan
Pennsylvania – Alejandro Herrera-Rondon, Seneca Valley High School, Zelienople, University of Oklahoma
Rhode Island – Nicholas Fine, Bishop Hendricken High School, Cumberland, Columbia University
South Carolina – Chris Compton, James F. Byrnes High School, Wellford
South Dakota – Sam Kruger, Winner High School, Kimball, South Dakota State
Tennessee – Alex Whitworth, McCallie School, Dalton, Harvard
Texas – Braxton Brown, Allen High School, Allen, University of Maryland
Utah – Lucas Cochran, Box Elder High School, Perry, Penn State
Vermont – Sam Worthing, Fair Haven Union High School, Poultney
Virginia – Erik Roggie, St. Christopher’s School, Smithfield, University of Virginia
Washington – Steele Starren, Tahoma High School, Maple Valley
West Virginia – Gavin Quiocho, Parkersburg South High School, Glenville State College
Wisconsin – Matty Bianchi, Two Rivers High School, Two Rivers, University of Arkansas – Little Rock
Wyoming – Analu Benabise, Kelly Walsh High School, Casper, University of Wyoming
All-Time National Winners of Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award
2020 – Braxton Amos, Parkersburg South High School, Mineral Wells, West Virginia
2019 – Cohlton Schultz, Ponderosa High School, Parker, Colorado (Greco-Roman Cadet World Champion)
2018 – David Carr, Perry High School, Massillon, Ohio (NCAA Champion and Junior World Champion)
2017 – Daton Fix, Charles Page High School, Sand Springs, Oklahoma (Junior World Champion)
2016 – Mark Hall II, Apple Valley High School, Apple Valley, Minnesota (NCAA Champion and 2X Junior World Champion)
2015 – Zahid Valencia, St. John Bosco High School, Bellflower, California (2X NCAA Champion and Junior World Silver Medalist)
2014 – Chance Marsteller, Kennard-Dale High School, Fawn Grove, Pennsylvania
2013 – Zain Retherford, Benton Area High School, Benton, Pennsylvania (3X NCAA Champion)
2012 – Taylor Massa, St. Johns High School, St. Johns, Michigan
2011 – Morgan McIntosh, Calvary Chapel High School, Santa Ana, California
2010 – Logan Stieber, Monroeville High School, Monroeville, Ohio (World Champion and 4X NCAA Champion)
2009 – David Taylor, Graham High School, St. Paris, Ohio (World Champion and 2X NCAA Champion)
2008 – Jason Chamberlain, Springville High School, Springville, Utah
2007 – Zachary Sanders, Wabasha-Kellogg High School, Wabasha, Minnesota
2006 – David Craig, Brandon High School, Brandon, Florida
2005 – Troy Nickerson, Chenango Forks High School, Chenango Forks, New York (NCAA Champion)
2004 – Coleman Scott, Waynesburg High School, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania (NCAA Champion and Olympic bronze medalist)
2003 – C.P. Schlatter, St. Paul Graham High School, Urbana, Ohio
2002 – Teyon Ware, Edmond North High School, Edmond, Oklahoma (2X NCAA Champion)
2001 – Steven Mocco, Blair Academy, Blairstown, New Jersey (2X NCAA Champion and Olympian)
2000 – Ben Connell, Lugoff-Elgin High School, Lugoff, South Carolina
1999 – Zach Roberson, Blue Valley North West High School, Overland Park, Kansas (NCAA Champion)
1998 – Garrett Lowney, Freedom High School, Appleton, Wisconsin (2X Olympian)
Justin Ruiz, Taylorsville High School, Salt Lake City, Utah (Olympian)
1997 – Jeff Knupp, Walsh Jesuit High School, Akron, Ohio
1996 – David Kjeldgaard, Lewis Central High School, Council Bluffs, Iowa