The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Tuesday announced the state winners of the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award (TSHSEA).
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 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.
For the third consecutive year, the Hall of Fame is recognizing a record number of state winners with 46, up from 35 winners in 2019 and 32 winners 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.
“It brings us great joy to recognize these outstanding female wrestlers, who have excelled not only on the wrestling mat, but also in the classroom and in their communities. I want to thank our selection committee for the thorough work they have done in determining this year’s winners,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the Hall of Fame. “The growth of girls wrestling is exciting and we’re recognizing a record number of state winners this year. We look forward to following these young women as they chart new goals for themselves on the mat and in their lives.”
TSHSEA regional winners will be announced on May 19 and the national winner will be announced on May 26. State winners of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award will be announced on Thursday with the regional winners announced on May 21 and the national winner on May 28.
Women’s wrestling is one of the fastest growing high school sports and there are more than 27,000 female high school wrestlers competing across the nation.
From 1998-2015 there were six states with a sanctioned girls state wrestling championship: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. Since 2015, 16 additional states have created an official girls wrestling state championships, or have started the path leading to official sanction: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah.
Georgia, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri and New Jersey held their first official state championship in 2018-19 while Arkansas, Kansas, Maryland and New Mexico held an official state championship for 2019-20. Colorado voted for a two-year pilot program for 2018-19 with an official state championship for 2020-21. Arizona voted girls wrestling as an emerging sport for 2018-19 and will host an official state championship in 2020-21. Connecticut held a girls wrestling invitational tournament in 2019-20.
Sixteen states have held unofficial girls state championships, organized and run by coaches, state wrestling associations or officials associations. The 16 states with unofficial girls state championships are: Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
There are 81 intercollegiate women’s wrestling teams. The NCAA has approved “Emerging Sport Status” for women’s wrestling at the Division II and Division III levels, and women’s wrestling supporters are hopeful that it will approve it for Division I this summer. The NAIA also recognizes women’s wrestling as an emerging sport.
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.
2020 Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award State Winners
State – Name, High School, Hometown, College Attending
Alabama – Shelby Fugate, Russell County High School, Fort Mitchell, Central Methodist University
Alaska – Rayana Vigil, Homer High School, Fritz Creek, Southern Oregon University
Arizona – Stefana Jelacic, Chandler High School, Fountain Hills, Lourdes University
Arkansas – Riley Holman, Pulaski Academy College Preparatory School, Little Rock
California – Francesca LoPresti, Albany High School, Richmond
Colorado – Tristan Kelly, Springs Studio for Academic Excellence, Erie, Colorado Mesa
Connecticut – Lilly Schwartz, Northwestern Regional School District No. 7, Salisbury
Florida – Jessica Corredor, Dr. Phillips High School, Orlando, Missouri Baptist University
Georgia – Tiyhana Askew, Collins Hill High School, Lawrenceville, Emmanuel College
Hawaii – Nanea Estrella, Lahainaluna High School, Makawao, Menlo College
Idaho – Payton Lanningham, Columbia High School, Nampa
Illinois – Louisa Schwab, Joliet West High School, Plainfield, Menlo College
Indiana – Larresha Bryant-Coleman, New Haven Jr./Sr. High School, Ft. Wayne
Iowa – Tateum Park, Davenport North High School, Davenport
Kansas – Elisa Robinson, Junction City High School, Junction City
Kentucky – Savanna Bacon, Union County High School, Sturgis, University of the Cumberlands
Louisiana – Anya Broussard, University View Academy, Baton Rouge, Wayne State University
Maryland – Maggie Palmore, Northwest High School, Germantown
Massachusetts – Marisol Nugent, Phillips Academy Andover, Boxford, Lehigh University
Michigan – Rayana Sahagun, Sparta High School, Rockford, University of Jamestown
Minnesota – Kya Rybacheck, Hibbing High School, Mountain Iron, Augsburg University
Missouri – Autumn Flanigan, Troy Buchanan High School, Troy, Augsburg University
Montana – Brooke Cicierski, Billings West High School, Billings, University of Providence
Nebraska – Jerzie Menke, Bridgeport High School, Bridgeport
Nevada – Tehani Soares, Shadow Ridge High School, Las Vegas, Indiana Tech
New Hampshire – Shandria Waters, Keene High School, Surry, East Stroudsburg University
New Jersey – Jewel Gonzalez, Phillipsburg High School, Phillipsburg, Gannon University
New Mexico – Selvi Gallegos, Sandia High School, Albuquerque, Oklahoma City University
New York – Mia Macaluso, Minisink Valley High School, Otisville, East Stroudsburg University
North Carolina – Brooklyn Hermel, Havelock High School, Havelock, Oklahoma City University
North Dakota – Sierra Ramberg, West Fargo High School, Fargo
Ohio – Leilah Castro, New Lexington High School, New Lexington, Campbellsville University
Oklahoma – Janene Perry, Stilwell High School, Welling
Oregon – Olivia Robinson, Glencoe High School, Hillsboro, Eastern Oregon University
Pennsylvania – Caitlyn Walker, Wyoming Seminary Prep School, Hatboro, Columbia University
Rhode Island – Amber Aguilar, Central Falls High School, Central Falls
South Carolina – Elisha Thaxton, West-Oak High School, Westminster
South Dakota – Alisha Van Scoy, Stevens High School, Rapid City, University of Saint Mary
Tennessee – Emma Walker, Rossview High School, Clarksville, Campbellsville University
Texas – Camille Fournier, Weatherford High School, Weatherford, Texas Wesleyan University
Utah – Kathleen Janis, Layton High School, Layton, King University
Virginia – Elizabeth Dosado, Caroline High School, Ruther Glen, University of the Cumberlands
Washington – Molly Williams, Redmond High School, Redmond
West Virginia – Samantha Miller, Parkersburg South High School, Parkersburg, Presbyterian College
Wisconsin – Marta Jasperson, Hudson Senior High School, Hudson
Wyoming – Charmayne DeLong, Moorcroft High School, Weston, Indiana Tech University
All-Time National Winners of Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award
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