Tricia Saunders (Phoenix, Ariz./Sunkist Kids) has been named the 1999 Women's Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling. It is the third time that Saunders has received this prestigious award (1993, 1996, 1999).
Saunders was the 1999 World Champion at 101.25 pounds, her fourth career World Championships gold medal. Her performance helped lead the United States to its first-ever Women's World Team title.
It was her fifth career World Championships medal, setting the U.S. record for most World medals. She defeated five-time World Champion Xiue Zhong of China in the finals, 4-2, in overtime. Saunders won four matches on the way to the title.
Saunders ended the 1999 season with an undefeated record. She was also the 1999 Women's World Team Trials champion, qualifying for her ninth U.S. World team. Saunders also claimed the 1999 U.S. Nationals title, her ninth career nationals title, also a U.S. record. She has never lost to a U.S. wrestler during her decade-long career on the Senior level.
Saunders received the 1997 USA Wrestling Woman of the Year award, the first winner of this prestigious honor. This award recognizes an outstanding woman for her contributions to the sport of wrestling. Saunders is considered one of the pioneers in the development of women's wrestling, which is one of the fastest growing sports for young women in the nation. She has been an active leader on USA Wrestling's Board of Directors.
Saunders attended the Univ. of Wisconsin. She is married to 1996 Olympic silver medalist Townsend Saunders, and they have two children. A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., she comes from an active wrestling family and was very successful youth wrestler, competing against boys. She did not wrestle in high school or college, participating in other sports, but returned to wrestling as an adult after moving to the Phoenix area.
PAST WOMEN'S WRESTLER OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS
1999 - Tricia Saunders, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1998 - Kristie Stenglein, Albany, N.Y., ATWA
1997 - Sandra Bacher, San Jose, Calif., Dave Schultz WC
1996 - Tricia Saunders, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids
1995 - Vickie Zummo, Hamburg, N.J., New York AC
1994 - Shannon Williams, Ontario, Calif., Sunkist Kids
1993 - Tricia Saunders, Phoenix, Ariz., Sunkist Kids