National Wrestling Hall of Fame

California’s Alleida Martinez Named Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award National Winner

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Monday announced that Alleida Martinez of Selma, California, is the 2018 national winner of the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award (TSHSEA).

Martinez will be presented with her award during the 42nd Annual Honors Weekend at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum on June 1-2 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. For information on Honors Weekend, visit or telephone (405) 377-5243.

“I feel incredibly honored to have been selected for this award because there is so much talent in women’s wrestling today,” said Martinez. “I also feel happy and excited to be able to represent women’s wrestling at this level and inspire the younger generations.”

Martinez is a four-time California High School state champion and four-year team captain for Selma High School. The daughter of Esbeide Belmontes and Noe Martinez, she helped Selma win two state team titles.

On Saturday, Martinez, who is a member of the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club, won the 50 kg title at the Women’s Nationals to make the U.S. women’s freestyle Junior World Team that will compete in September in Trnava, Slovakia.

It is the third World Team for Martinez, who won a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships in 2016 and was a silver medalist in 2015. She was a U23 runner-up in 2018 and a Fargo junior champion and a junior national folkstyle runner-up in 2017. In 2015 and 2016, Martinez won back-to-back junior national and cadet national folkstyle championships as well as the Fargo and Body Bar titles.

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.

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.

“Because women’s wrestling is growing so fast, there are more qualified and deserving candidates, which makes it more difficult for our committee to choose the winner of our Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award,” said Executive Director Lee Roy Smith. “We are happy to announce Alleida Martinez as our national winner. She is a great example of a young woman who has excelled on the wrestling mat while also being a good student, a good citizen and a positive role model. We look forward to following Alleida’s success in college and beyond.”

Regional winners are selected from state winners, and the national winner will be chosen from the regional winners.

Missouri recently voted to make girls wrestling an official high school sport, becoming the third state this season, along with Georgia and Oregon, to add high school girls wrestling. There are now nine states that will host state-sanctioned girls wrestling championships: Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Missouri, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

Martinez also ran cross country and was a state qualifier and team captain for two years. She has performed over 50 hours of community service with the Selma High School ROTC program while also volunteering at the Highland Games, Jackson Elementary Carnival and the Selma Sikh Parade.

She has volunteered to place flags on veteran graves as well as serving as part of flag honor guard at other events. She has a 3.52 GPA and has signed a letter of intent to wrestle for Menlo College.

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.

All-Time National Winners of Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award
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