Regional Winners of Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award Announced

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Thursday announced the regional winners of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award (DSHSEA). 

The winners are: 

Central Region - Gage Walker, Bixby, Oklahoma, Bixby High School, University of Missouri 

Midwest Region - Aeoden Sinclair, Edgerton, Wisconsin, Milton High School, University of Missouri 

Northeast Region - Carter Neves, Dayton, Ohio, Blair Academy, Ohio State University 

Southeast Region - Sawyer Bartelt, Coral Gables, Florida, South Dade Senior High School, Iowa State University 

West Region - Cash Henderson, Bountiful, Utah, Woods Cross High School, Cornell University 

The national winner will be announced on May 8. The national winner will be chosen from the regional winners. 

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

DSHSEA 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 regional winners of the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award were 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 May 7. 

The TSHSEA and DSHSEA national winners will be honored during the 47th Honors Weekend at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum on May 31 and June 1 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. To purchase tickets for Honors Weekend, visit

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 (11) - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, 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 

2024 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award Regional Winners 

Central Region: Gage Walker of Bixby, Oklahoma was a four-time Oklahoma state champion for Bixby High School. The son of Matt and Whitney Walker, he will continue his wrestling career at the University of Missouri. Walker became Oklahoma’s 46th four-time state wrestling champion, finishing with a career record of 155-11 while also winning four regional titles. He also had a fifth-place finish at the Ironman Wrestling Tournament and a third-place finish at the Doc Buchanan Invitational. He finished seventh in freestyle at Junior Nationals in 2023 and seventh in 16U Greco-Roman Nationals in 2022. Walker was a two-time academic all-conference and a two-time academic state champion team member. He is a member of the National Honor Society, student council and Fellowship of Christian Students. He hosted and participated in Operation Gratitude, a fundraiser to gather cold weather gear for homeless veterans while also hosting, cooking, serving and cleaning at the Veterans Day luncheon, parade and community assembly. Walker hosted, shopped, wrapped and delivered gifts for Christmas Angel Trees, benefitting children and nursing home residents, and hosted, shopped, packed and delivered baskets for the Christmas Food Basket Challenge, a fundraiser to provide Christmas dinner to students enrolled in the Backpack Program. He hosted and participated in the Easter Egg Houses fundraiser to raise money to host a prom for the Delaware County Friendship Homes, which provides residential and vocational opportunities for developmental disabled adults, and also volunteered to assist with cleanup when a tornado destroyed homes and yards in the local community. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, he was a Cherokee National Trail of Tears Award recipient. 

Midwest Region: Aeoden Sinclair of Edgerton, Wisconsin was a three-time Wisconsin state champion with a career record of 144-4 for Milton High School. After going 14-3 and finishing third at the state tournament as a freshman, he went 48-1 as a sophomore, 45-0 as a junior and 37-0 as a senior while capturing regional, sectional and state championships. The son of Michael and Abigail Sinclair, he will continue his wrestling career at the University of Missouri. Sinclair recently won the U20 Freestyle Nationals and also won the 2023 Journeyman World Classic, including a victory over world champion Sandro Kurashvili of Georgia in the semifinals. He also captured Super 32 and Who's #1 titles in 2023, and went 1-1 at the 2023 U17 World Championships. He was the 2022 USA Wrestling U16 Nationals champion and went 8-0 to help his team to a second-place finish at the 2022 U16 National Duals. Sinclair finished second at the 2022 Super 32, due to injury, and had a third-place finish at the United States Open. Sinclair was a Fargo champion in 2022 and went 8-0 to help his team finish fifth at the Junior National Duals in 2022. He performed community service with the National Honor Society and also volunteered as an instructor and coach with the Milton Youth wrestling program and the Askren Wrestling Academy. Fluent in reading, speaking and writing Spanish, Sinclair was a four-time Academic All-State wrestler and also a 2023-24 Academic All-American. Sinclair is a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society, the Student Council, the History Club, the Spanish Club, and was a co-captain of the Financial Literacy Team. He was named Rock County Rotary Student of the Month in December 2023 while also making the honor roll every trimester of his high school career and being a Badger Boys State selection in 2023. 

Northeast Region: Carter Neves of Dayton, Ohio was a National Prep champion in 2024 and a National Prep runner-up in 2023 for Blair Academy after being an Ohio state champion in 2022 and a state finalist in 2021 for Graham High School in St. Paris, Ohio. The son of Paul and Holly Neves, he will continue his wrestling career at Ohio State University. Neves won the Walsh Ironman, the Beast of the East and the Escape the Rock tournaments, and did not surrender a single offensive point during the 2023 season. He finished third in freestyle at the U20 UWW Junior Nationals and the U.S. Open Juniors in 2023 after a runner-up finish at the U17 World Team Trials in 2021. He also played football at Blair and earned second-team all-state honors as a linebacker. Neves served as a prefect at Blair and was also the girls lacrosse team manager. He received the Stephen Curry Prize for Most Impactful New Junior at Blair. 

Southeast Region: Sawyer Bartelt of Coral Gables, Florida was an undefeated four-time Florida state champion for South Dade Senior High School. He finished his high school career with a 139-0 record and was only taken down once, and that didn’t come until the final match of his high school career when Dr. Krop High School’s Nathan Adras did so early in the first period of the Class 3A 215-pound championship for an early 2-0 lead. Bartelt’s response? He pinned Adras at the 2:40 mark for the state title. The son of Douglas and Michelle Bartelt, he will continue his wrestling career at Iowa State University. Bartelt won the Junior Nationals Greco-Roman title in 2023 and was the 16U Greco-Roman national champion in 2021. He also won the U.S. Open U20 and U20 World Team Trials titles in 2023 and wrestled for the United States in the 2023 U20 World Championships. Bartelt was a four-time Miami Dade County Wrestler of the Year and was named Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. Wrestling and the Miami Herald’s Miami-Dade Wrestler of the Year in 2024. Also a standout as a defensive end on the football team, he was named South Dade Football Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-Miami-Dade in 2024. Bartelt was a member of the “Best Buddies” club, spending time each week bonding with the special needs students at South Dade, and he also spent time reading and interacting with elementary school students. He also served as a guest speaker at local schools, emphasizing the importance of respect and being responsible, particularly with school work, and encouraging students to become well-rounded students before becoming athletes. 

West Region: Cash Henderson of Bountiful, Utah was a three-time Utah state champion for Woods Cross High School. The three-time divisional champion and four-time state place-winner had a career record of 158-11, including 126-3 the last three seasons, and was named Outstanding Wrestler at both the division and state tournaments as a senior. The son of Jayson and Cicily Henderson, he will continue is career at Cornell University. He was a Fargo freestyle champion and finished fourth in Greco-Roman in 2022 and finished fourth in Greco-Roman and freestyle in 2023. Also a standout on the football field as a running back and middle linebacker, Henderson was all-state as a junior and senior, region MVP as a senior, and all-region as a sophomore, junior and senior. He was also the team captain for football and wrestling for three years. Henderson was a student diversity representative and a member of the National Honor Society and student council. He was a member of the speech and debate team, which finished second in the region and state, and played trumpet in the orchestra. He volunteered at the Utah Food Bank and at the University of Utah Huntsman Race while also being a member of the peer support group and the school’s food donation drive. 

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.

Coleman Scott (2004) and Logan Stieber (2010) will become the first DSHSEA national winners to be Distinguished Members of the Hall of Fame when they are inducted in the Class of 2024 during Honors Weekend.

Cael Sanderson, who was the Utah and West Region winner of the DSHSEA in 1997, and Jake Varner, who was the California winner of the DSHEA in 2005, are also Distinguished Members of the Hall of Fame.

National winners of the DSHSEA 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 David Carr (2018), Steven Mocco (2001), David Taylor (2009), Teyon Ware (2002) and Zahid Valencia (2015).

2024 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award State Winners

State - Name, High School, Hometown, College Attending
Alabama - Cole Carter, Jasper High School, Jasper
Alaska - Uatahouse Tuifua, Barrow High School, Barrow, Eastern New Mexico University (Football)
Arizona - Kyler Larkin, Valiant College Preparatory, Gilbert, Arizona State University
Arkansas - Lakoda Caldwell, Glen Rose High School, Malvern
California - Brock Mantanona, Palm Desert High School, Bermuda Dunes, University of Michigan
Colorado - Dale O'Blia, Mullen High School, Thornton, Princeton University
Connecticut - Nate Taylor, Greens Farms Academy, Sandy Hook, University of Pennsylvania
Delaware - James Miller, Salesianum School, Wilmington
Florida - Sawyer Bartelt, South Dade Senior High School, Coral Gables, Iowa State University
Georgia - Seth Larson, Flowery Branch High School, Flowery Branch, Campbell University
Hawaii - Diesel Del Rosario, Lanai High School, Lanai City
Idaho - Mack Mauger, Blackfoot High School, Blackfoot, University of Missouri
Illinois - Dillan Johnson, Joliet Catholic Academy, Plainfield, University of Wisconsin (Football and Wrestling)
Indiana - Will Clark, Crown Point High School, Crown Point
Iowa - Kane Naaktgeboren, Linn-Mar Community High School, Marion, Iowa State University
Kansas - Owen Eck, Andale High School, Andale, Oklahoma University
Kentucky - Breyden Whorton, LaRue County High School, Hodgenville, Thomas More University
Louisiana - Spencer Lanosga, Jesuit High School, River Ridge, United States Naval Academy
Maine - Gavin Ripley, Oceanside High School, Owls Head, Maine Maritime Academy
Maryland - Carter Nogle, Mount Saint Joseph High School, Laurel, United States Air Force Academy
Massachusetts - Nathan Blanchette, Central Catholic High School, Methuen, Rutgers University
Michigan - Justin Gates, Davison High School, Davison, University of Michigan
Minnesota - Nolan Ambrose, Jackson County Central High School, Jackson, Augustana University
Mississippi - Gabrial Shanks, Ocean Springs High School, Ocean Springs, Gannon University
Missouri - Hunter Taylor, Liberty High School, Liberty, Oregon State University
Montana - Keyan Hernandez, Billings West High School, Billings, University of Iowa
Nebraska - Drew Moser, Waverly High School, Waverly
Nevada - Marco Romero, Elko High School, Elko, Colorado School of Mines
New Hampshire - Teghan McConnell, Bedford High School, Bedford
New Jersey - Carter Neves, Blair Academy, Dayton, Ohio State University
New Mexico - Bryson Valdez, Aztec High School, Aztec, University of Northern Colorado
New York - Casper Stewart, Batavia High School, Batavia, United States Military Academy West Point
North Carolina - Cameron Stinson Jr., Mallard Creek High School, Charlotte, University of North Carolina
North Dakota - Leandro (L J) Araujo, Bismarck High School, Bismarck, University of Nebraska
Ohio - Jaxon Joy, Wadsworth High School, Wadsworth, Cornell University
Oklahoma - Gage Walker, Bixby High School, Bixby, University of Missouri
Oregon - Isaac Hampton, Newberg High School, Newberg, United States Naval Academy
Pennsylvania - Pierson Manville, State College Area High School, State College, Arizona State University
Rhode Island - Gabriel Bouyssou, Scituate High School, Hope, Cornell University
South Carolina - Jermaine (JJ) Peace, Cane Bay High School, Summerville, American University
South Dakota - Navarro Schunke, Brandon Valley High School, Brandon
Tennessee - Logan Fowler, Cleveland High School, Cleveland, United States Air Force Academy
Texas - Angelo Ferrari, Melissa High School, Allen, University of Iowa
Utah - Cash Henderson, Woods Cross High School, Bountiful, Cornell University
Vermont - Anthony Matas, Essex High School, St. Albans, University of Buffalo
Virginia - Thomas Potter, Union High School, Wise, Gardner-Webb University
Washington - Lars Michaelson, Bremerton High School, Bremerton, Stanford University
West Virginia - Gage Wright, Parkersburg South High School, Mineral Wells, Virginia Tech
Wisconsin - Aeoden Sinclair, Milton High School, Edgerton, University of Missouri
Wyoming - Antonio Avila, Thunder Basin High School, Gillette

All-Time National Winners of Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award
2023 - Cael Hughes, Stillwater High School, Stillwater, Oklahoma
2022 - Cory Land, Moody High School, Moody, Alabama
2021 - Alex Facundo, Davison High School, Essexville, Michigan
2020 - Braxton Amos, Parkersburg South High School, Mineral Wells, West Virginia (Freestyle Junior World Champion and Greco-Roman Junior World Bronze Medalist)
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 (World Silver Medalist, Junior World Champion and 2X Junior World Bronze Medalist)
2016 - Mark Hall II, Apple Valley High School, Apple Valley, Minnesota (NCAA Champion, 2X Junior World Champion and Cadet 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 (Olympic Gold Medalist, 2X World Champion, World Silver Medalist 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. Paris 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) and 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

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