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National Wrestling Hall of Fame names State, Regional winners of Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Awards

by Jack Carnefix, National Wrestling Hall of Fame

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Tuesday announced the state and regional 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.

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

The state and regional winners of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award will be announced on Wednesday. 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.

The national winner of the TSHSEA will be announced on May 24 while the national winner of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award will be announced on May 25. The national winners will be honored during the 45th Annual Honors Weekend at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum on June 3 and 4 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. For information on Honors Weekend, visit or telephone (405) 377-5243.

“We are excited about honoring this deserving group of young women as recipients of our Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award,” said Executive Director Lee Roy Smith. “Women’s wrestling in America has experienced tremendous growth in recent years and these honorees exemplify all of the qualities of well-rounded student-athletes. We look forward to seeing what they accomplish in wrestling, academics and life.”

Thirty-six state high school athletic associations have approved girls wrestling as an official sport and 32 held official girls high school state wrestling championships in 2021-22. Hawaii was the first state to host a girls state championship in 1998 while Texas began its girls tournament in 1999. The number grew to six states by 2015 and has exploded in recent years to 36 states.

States that hosted state-sanctioned girls wrestling championships are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. Iowa, Ohio and Wyoming are scheduled to host their first official state championship in 2022-23 while North Carolina is scheduled to host its first officially sanctioned tournament in 2023-24.

To date there are 119 intercollegiate women’s wrestling teams. The NCAA has approved “Emerging Sport Status” for women’s wrestling at the Division I, Division II and Division III levels while the NAIA recognizes women’s wrestling as an official varsity sport.

Women’s wrestling is one of the fastest growing high school sports with participation growing by more than 71 percent from 16,562 in 2018 to 28,447 in 2020. Growth has continued through the pandemic and more than 33,000 female high school wrestlers competed in 2022.

TSHSEA 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 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.

The 2022 Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award Regional Winners are:

Central: Sarah Savidge of Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a four-time place-winner, three-time finalist and Colorado state high school champion for Doherty High School. The daughter of Bryant Savidge and Sherry Greenleaf, she is ranked fourth at 127 pounds in the National Girls High School Rankings for March and had a career prep record of 87-16, including 32-1 as a senior when she won her state title. Savidge is a two-time Junior Folkstyle Nationals champion and a two-time Junior Freestyle Nationals All-American. She won USA Wrestling Colorado’s freestyle state tournament twice and was named Outstanding Wrestler for the USA Wrestling Tour of America in 2021. Savidge was a member of Colorado USA Wrestling’s junior team from 2019-2022 while being named Pikes Peak Regional Wrestler of the Year by the Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Student Athlete of the Year in 2022. She was named Most Valuable Wrestler for Doherty High School in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and served as team captain in 2021 and 2022. Savidge volunteered with Habitat for Humanity at the Colorado Springs Homeless Shelter and as a math tutor. She has a GPA of 3.98 at Springs Studio for Academic Excellence and has signed a letter of intent to wrestle for Life University.

Midwest: Riley Dempewolf of Lafayette, Indiana, is a four-time Indiana state high school champion for McCutcheon High School. The daughter of Jason Dempewolf and Carrie Leak, she is ranked third at 200 pounds in the National Girls High School Rankings for March and had a career prep record of 23-1, going undefeated each of her last three years. Dempewolf is a two-time Junior Nationals All-American, finishing sixth in 2019 and second in 2021, and is also a three-time Folkstyle All-American. In 2021, she also won the Recruiting Showcase tournament and was named to the Junior Duals All-Tournament team. Dempewolf was a member of the student council for four years, including being president as a senior, and a member of the Friends of Rachel for three years, currently serving as president. She received the Jefferson Award from McCutcheon Students In Action and the Emerging Scientist Award from SANCAS. A member of National Honor Society and currently serving as vice president, Dempewolf has a GPA of 3.86 while earning Academic All-State honors twice. Dempewolf has signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Indiana Institute of Technology, where she plans to study biomedical engineering with the goal of designing prosthetics for children in sports.

Northeast: Sofia Macaluso of Otisville, New York, is ranked No. 1 at 122 pounds and No. 21 in the pound-for-pound rankings in the National Girls High School Rankings for March. The daughter of Heath and Nikki Macaluso, she wrestled on the boys varsity team for Minisink High School in 2019 and 2022, not competing in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19. In 2019, she became the first female to place at the DI Section IX tournament, finishing third, while also capturing the PSAL New York girls high school state title. Macaluso was also the Mohawk Valley Freestyle tournament champion. In 2022, she had a 60-9 record and became the first female to reach the finals at the DI Section IX tournament while also helping Minisink capture the state dual team title, winning three matches by fall. Macaluso was also the Kittatiny and Journeyman champion and a finalist at Suffern. In 2021, she finished fifth at the Junior World Team Trials and sixth at the U23 World Team Trials while reaching the finals at Junior Nationals. In 2019, Macaluso was Junior Nationals Cadet champion, Folkstyle Nationals Cadet and Junior champion and finished fifth at the Junior World Team Trials. She was member of the New York National Freestyle team from 2018 to 2021 and finished eighth at Junior Nationals in 2018. Macaluso interned with New York State Senator Jen Metzger, using her passion for the environment to take on a project to research municipal recycling programs across the 42nd District with the goal of developing a model program that communities could adopt or use to improve existing programs. A black belt instructor at Budo Jiu-Jitsu MMA, she volunteers at Venom Girls Wrestling Club while also donating time at various youth wrestling tournaments. Macaluso was chosen as a member of the 2018 American Kintero World Team, representing the United States in Japan and participating in their wrestling diversion program. She and her teammates competed in the Japan Open, lived with host families, visited schools and learned about Japanese culture. She received a New York State Senate resolution for Student Athletic Achievement in Women’s Wrestling. Macaluso has worked as a counselor at Ninja Camp USA since the eighth grade and also works as a lifeguard during the summer. Her older sister, Mia, was the New York and Northeast Region winner of the TSHSEA in 2020. Sofia was Minisink Valley High School’s Varsity Scholar Athlete in 2022. She has signed a letter of intent to wrestle at East Stroudsburg University.

Southeast: Ella Beam of Lawndale, North Carolina, is a four-time North Carolina high school state champion for Burns High School and was ranked sixth at 180 pounds in the National Girls High School Rankings for March. The daughter of Luke and Kathy Beam, she was 20-0 in her prep career against girls and 85-65 overall, while also lettering in soccer and swimming. Beam was a finalist at Preseason Nationals and Folkstyle Nationals in 2021 and did not place in 2022 due to illness. She earned all-conference honors for boys wrestling while also earning all-conference honors in girls soccer. Beam received the wrestling team’s “Before Self” award in 2019 while sharing team MVP honors in 2020 and being named Outstanding Wrestler in 2021. She earned the swimming team’s “Most Improved” award and was also the recipient of the KTC Broadcasting McDonald’s Athlete Award. Class president as a senior and class marshal as a junior, Beam was a member of Air Force Junior ROTC, Students Leading A Change and FFA while also serving as school mascot and being a member of the marching band. She served as AFJROTC Corp Commander in 2021 and received the AFJROTC AMVETS National award, the National Sojourners award and the Air Force Association National award after being named Cadet of the Year in 2019. Beam volunteered with the Pleasant City Church Kids Ministry, the PCC Next Level Team, on JROTC community service projects, filling bird feeders at nursing homes, and participated in Mission Serve missions stateside and internationally. Beam has a GPA of 4.44 and plans to wrestle for Presbyterian College.

West: Shannon Workinger of Quincy, Washington, is a three-time place-winner, a two-time finalist and a Washington state high school champion for Quincy High School. The daughter of Coby Workinger and Jennifer Gardner, she is ranked sixth at 164 pounds in the National Girls High School Rankings for March. Workinger had a career prep record of 102-10, including 36-0 as a senior and 70-1 her last two seasons, while winning three district championships and placing eighth, second and first. She finished fourth at Junior Nationals in 2021 and won the Preseason Nationals in 2022 while also winning the Trinity Award at the World of Wrestling Rocky Mountain Nationals and being named WOW Season Outstanding Wrestler. Workinger also lettered in track and soccer, earning all-league honors. A member of FFA, she finished first in state in competition horse judging teams and received honors for her study of low-stress cattle handling and ranch roping. Workinger works in her family’s business starting horses and dealing with problem horses. She volunteered as a youth coach for basketball and soccer while heading up the girls youth wrestling program. Workinger also volunteered giving community youth horse riding lessons and working at a food bank while serving on the Cowboy Ministries Student Board. Workinger, who skipped a grade, has a GPA of 3.6 and plans to wrestle at Menlo College.

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

2022 Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award State Winners

State - Name, High School, Hometown, College Attending

Alabama - Yasmine Oliveira, Hoover, Spain Park High School

Alaska - Liana Carney, Wrangell, Wrangell High School, Jamestown University

Arizona - Mylei Seigla, Tucson, Canyon Del Oro High School, Friends University

Arkansas - Byanca Cook, Springdale, Har-Ber High School, Avila University

California - Jennifer Soto, Gilroy, Gilroy High School

Colorado - Sarah Savidge, Colorado Springs, Doherty High School, Life University

Connecticut - Ella Nichols, Bristol, Bristol Eastern High School

Florida - Juliana Diaz, Orlando, Dr. Phillips High School, Missouri Baptist University

Georgia - Lisa Glymph, Marietta, Marietta High School, Life University

Hawaii - Erin Hikiji, Mililani, Mililani High School, University of Providence

Idaho - Marissa Jimenez, Caldwell, Caldwell High School, Oklahoma City University

Illinois - Alexis Janiak, Plainfield, Plainfield South High School, Aurora University

Indiana - Riley Dempewolf, Lafayette, McCutcheon High School, Indiana Institute of Technology

Iowa - Ella Schmit, Bettendorf, Bettendorf High School, University of Iowa

Kansas - Madyson Gray, Lawrence, Free State High School, Grand View University

Kentucky - Ivy Partin, Flat Lick, Knox Central High School, University of Cumberlands

Louisiana - Briana Araujo Batista, Baton Rouge, East Ascension High School, Iowa Central High School

Maine - Hayleigh Martz, Rockport, Camden Hills Regional High School

Maryland - Sarah Sunday, Lutherville Timonium, Dulaney High School, Oklahoma City University

Massachusetts - Janiah Baez, Springfield, Chicopee High School

Michigan - Eliana Bommarito, Brighton, Hartland High School

Minnesota - Brooklyn Conrad, Ortonville, Ortonville High School

Mississippi - Meagan Guzman, Moss Point, East Central High School

Missouri - Faith Cole, Glencoe, Lafayette High School, Iowa Wesleyan University

Montana - Cabry Taylor, White Sulphur Springs, White Sulphur Springs High School

Nebraska - Callie Arnold, Pierce, Pierce High School, Iowa Western Community College

Nevada - Sterling Dias, Las Vegas, SLAM! Nevada, University of Iowa

New Jersey - Ahsia Torres, Perth Amboy, Perth Amboy High School, Sacred Heart University

New Mexico - Princess Altsisi, Shiprock, Aztec High School, New Mexico Highlands University

New York - Sofia Macaluso, Otisville, Minisink Valley High School, East Stroudsburg University

North Carolina - Ella Beam, Lawndale, Burns High School, Presbyterian College

North Dakota - Jenna Gerhardt, Devils Lake, Devils Lake High School, University of Jamestown

Ohio - Peyton Curley, Strasburg, Dover High School, Lourdes University

Oklahoma - Samara Markwardt, Muskogee, Will Rogers High School, Carl Albert State College

Oregon - Ayana Medina, Hillsboro, Hillsboro High School, Linfield University

Pennsylvania - Grace Stem, Snow Shoe, Bald Eagle Area High School, Lock Haven University

South Carolina - Bella Hoffman, Tega Cay, Fort Mill High School, Montreat College

South Dakota - Kiana Shevling-Major, Geddes, Platte-Geddes High School

Tennessee - Ashton Davis, Cleveland, Cleveland High School, Cornell University

Texas - Avery Ashley, Fairview, Lovejoy High School, Oklahoma City University

Utah - Esther Han, Orem, Mountain View High School

Virginia - Kaylee Anderson, Berryville, Clarke County High School, Shenandoah University

Washington - Shannon Workinger, Quincy, Quincy High School, Menlo College

West Virginia - Micah Fischer, Lewisburg, Greenbrier East High School

Wisconsin - Sofia Brynman-Metcalf, Sullivan, Jefferson High School

Wyoming - Alleynah Ronnau, Cheyenne, Cheyenne East High School

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

2021 - Olivia Brown, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

2020 - Nanea Estrella, Lahainaluna High School, Makawao, Hawaii

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