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Hughes, Keuter, Mullen, Perry, Walters named Regional Winners of Dave Schultz High School Excellence Awards

by Jack Carnefix, National Wrestling Hall of Fame

2023 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Regional Award winners graphic

STILLWATER, Okla. - The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Wednesday announced the regional winners of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award (DSHSEA).

The winners are:

Central Region - Cael Hughes, Glencoe, Oklahoma, Stillwater High School

Midwest Region - Ben Kueter, Iowa City, Iowa, Iowa City High School

Northeast Region - Jimmy Mullen, Hopatcong, New Jersey, St. Joseph Regional High School

Southeast Region - Ernie Perry III, Bossier City, Louisiana, Airline High School

West Region - Hayden Walters, Central Point, Oregon, Crater High School

The national winner will be announced on May 3. 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.

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 Tuesday. 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 2.

The TSHSEA and DSHSEA national winners will be honored during the 46th Honors Weekend at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum on June 2 and 3 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

2023 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award Regional Winners

Central Region
: Cael Hughes of Glencoe, Oklahoma was an undefeated four-time Oklahoma state champion for Stillwater High School. The son of Jeremy and Lisa Hughes, he will continue his wrestling career at Oklahoma State University. Hughes became Oklahoma’s 45th four-time state wrestling champion, and the fifth Oklahoma wrestler to finish his high school career undefeated and untied, compiling a 140-0 career record. He also helped Stillwater win three straight Oklahoma team titles and back-to-back Oklahoma dual team titles. He won and was named the Outstanding Wrestler at the 2023 Pittsburgh Classic and was also the 2022 Walsh Ironman tournament champion. WIN Magazine named him the 2023 recipient of the Junior Hodge Trophy, presented annually by Resilite to the nation’s most dominant wrestler. He was also announced as the Jim Thorpe High School Player of the Year for wrestling by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. He volunteered with Stillwater Medical Center, delivering meals to homebound people, and with Stillwater Makes A Changer, a student-led philanthropic project at Stillwater High School. Hughes also volunteered with Special Olympics and with Unified Peers, one-on-one mentoring with special needs students. Valedictorian of his class and a member of the National Honor Society, Hughes was an Academic State Championship team member in 2021.

Midwest Region: Ben Kueter of Iowa City, Iowa was an undefeated four-time Iowa state champion for Iowa City High School. He became Iowa’s 32nd four-time state wrestling champion, and the seventh Iowa wrestler to finish with a perfect record, compiling a 111-0 career record. The son of Scott and Tina Kueter, he will wrestle and play football at the University of Iowa. Of his 111 high school wins, he recorded bonus points in 94 of them with 74 pins, 15 technical falls, and five major decisions. He won a gold medal at the 2022 Junior World Championships and was a national champion in folkstyle and a national runner-up in freestyle in 2021. Kueter was named the 2023 recipient of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum’s Bob Steenlage Iowa High School Wrestler of the Year award, and was named was also named the Dan Gable Wrestler of the Year by Fareway Stores, Inc. and IAwrestle in coordination with the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association in 2022 and 2023. He was invited to and competed in the Under Armour All-American Bowl in football and was also a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award, presented annually to the top high school linebacker in the nation. Kueter volunteered to read at local elementary and junior high schools and was a member of the National Honor Society all four years.

Northeast Region: Jimmy Mullen of Hopatcong, New Jersey, was a three-time New Jersey state champion for St. Joseph Regional High School. The son of Jim Mullen, he will wrestle and play football for Virginia Tech University. He did not compete in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament as a sophomore, instead representing the United States in Greco-Roman and freestyle at the Cadet World Championships. Silver medalist in freestyle at Cadet Worlds and also won gold medals in both Greco-Roman and freestyle at the Pan American Games. Mullen was a four-year starter in football and was named First Team All-New Jersey as a senior by USA Today in 2023. He was named New Jersey Wrestler of the Year and Overall Athlete of the Year in 2022. He raised funds and prepared and delivered meals for less fortunate while also volunteering to stock and clean at local food banks.

Southeast Region: Ernie Perry, III of Bossier City, Louisiana was a four-time Louisiana state champion with a career prep record of 102-6 for Airline High School. The son of Ernie Perry, Jr. and Noy Perry, he will continue his wrestling career at Cornell University. Perry was a four-time Louisiana Classic champion and was named Outstanding Wrestler at the Louisiana Classic and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association state tournament in 2023. He volunteered to help the homeless and was a member of the National Honor Society and the National Beta Club.

West Region: Hayden Walters of Central Point, Oregon was a four-time Oregon state champion with a career prep record of 101-6 for Crater High School. The son of Denny and Angie Walters, he will continue his wrestling career at the University of Michigan. Walters was the Super 32 champion in 2023 and a three-time place-winner overall. He was a member of USA Wrestling’s Elite Athlete Program at the Olympic Training Center before being injured in December of 2022. Returned from injury to win his fourth state championship in 2023. Motivational speaker at local elementary schools and middle schools, discussing goal setting, commitment, and creating a positive from a negative.

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.

National winners of the DSHSEA award have combined to win 19 NCAA Division I individual titles led by four-time champion Logan Stieber (2010), three-time winner Zain Retherford (2013) and two-time winners Steven Mocco (2001), David Taylor (2009), Teyon Ware (2002) and Zahid Valencia (2015).

2023 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award State Winners

State - Name, High School, Hometown, College Attending
Alabama - Carson Hall, Ranburne, Ranburne High School, Air Force Academy (Football and Wrestling)
Alaska - Liam Babbitt, Soldotna, Soldotna High School
Arizona - Markell Rivera-Cain, Glendale, Ironwood High School, North Dakota State University
Arkansas - Justin Crutchmer, Hot Springs, Lake Hamilton High School, Oklahoma State University (Football)l
California - Beau Mantanona, Bermuda Dunes, Palm Desert High School, University of Michigan
Colorado - Weston Dalton, Pueblo West, Pueblo East High School, University of Nebraska
Connecticut - Jack Richardson, Danielson, Killingly High School, Johnson & Wales University
Delaware - Luke Poore, New Castle, Caravel Academy
Florida - Cooper Haase, St. Cloud, Osceola High School, USMA West Point Prep
Georgia - Luke Cochran, Pendergrass, Jefferson High School, Central Michigan University
Hawaii - Brycen Pagurayan, Kapolei, Kapolei High School
Idaho - Aden Attao, Boise, Borah High School, Oregon State University
Illinois - Kannon Webster, Washington, Washington Community High School, University of Illinois
Indiana - Sam Goin, Crown Point, Crown Point High School, Indiana University
Iowa - Ben Kueter, Iowa City, Iowa City High School, University of Iowa
Kansas - Nick Treaster, Newton, Newton High School, United States Naval Academy
Kentucky - George Ferree, Louisville, Trinity High School
Louisiana - Ernie Perry III, Bossier City, Airline High School, Cornell University
Maine - Derek Cote, Lebanon, Noble High School, Springfield College or The University of Southern Maine
Maryland - Coleman Nogle, Laurel, Mount Saint Joseph, Harvard University
Massachusetts - Rawson Iwanicki, Andover, St. John's Prep, Columbia University
Michigan - Joshua Barr, Davison, Davison High School, Penn State University
Minnesota - Max McEnelly, Waconia, Waconia High School, University of Minnesota
Mississippi - Nate Taylor, Olive Branch, Center Hill High School
Missouri - Carter McCallister, Columbia, Rock Bridge High School, University of Missouri
Montana - Izzy Moreno, Big Sky High School, Missoula, University of Northern Iowa
Nebraska - Kael Lauridsen, Bennington, Bennington High School, University of Nebraska
Nevada - Tyson Irby-Brownson, Henderson, Boulder City High School
New Hampshire - Anthony Fernandez, Nashua, Nashua High School South
New Jersey - Jimmy Mullen, Hopatcong, St. Joseph Regional High School, Virginia Tech University
New Mexico - Adan Benavidez, Bloomfield, Bloomfield High School, Kent State University
New York - Tyler Ferrara, Binghamton, Chenango Forks High School, Cornell University
North Carolina - Jeremiah Price, State Road, Surry Central, Appalachian State University
North Dakota - Boeden Greenley, Lisbon, Lisbon High School, North Dakota State University
Ohio - Joseph Blaze, IV, Perrysburg, Perrysburg High School, Purdue University
Oklahoma - Cael Hughes, Glencoe, Stillwater High School, Oklahoma State University
Oregon - Hayden Walters, Central Point, Crater High School, University of Michigan
Pennsylvania - Rocco Welsh, Fredricktown, Waynesburg Central High School, Ohio State University
Rhode Island - Jacob Joyce, Chepachet, Ponaganset High School, Stanford University
South Carolina - Colt Schrader, Greer, Eastside High School
South Dakota - Owen Hansen, Gregory, Gregory High School, Augustana University
Tennessee - Hunter Mason, Newport, Greeneville High School, Virginia Tech University
Texas - Shawn Ryncarz, Arlington, James Martin High School, Morgan State University
Utah - Kyison Garcia, South Jordan, Mountain Ridge High School, Penn State University
Vermont - Coy Lyford, Randolph, Spaulding High School
Virginia - Patrick Jordon, Providence Forge, New Kent High School, Virginia Military Institute
Washington - Q'veli Quintanilla, Spokane, University High School, Utah Valley University
West Virginia - Matthew Dolan, Martinsburg, Spring Mills High School, West Virginia University
Wisconsin - Greyson Clark, Wrightstown, Kaukauna High School, Purdue University
Wyoming - Lane, Catlin, Gillette, Thunder Basin High School, University of Wyoming

All-Time National Winners of Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award

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 and World Silver Medalist)
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. Paul 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

National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum
America’s shrine to the sport of wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1976 to honor the sport of wrestling, preserve its history, recognize extraordinary individual achievements, and inspire future generations. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame has museums in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Waterloo, Iowa. The Stillwater, Oklahoma, location reopened in June 2016 following a $3.8 million renovation and now features interactive exhibits and electronic kiosks, as well as the opportunity to watch NCAA Championship matches from the 1930s to present day. It also has the John T. Vaughan Hall of Honors where the greatest names in wrestling are recognized, including iconic granite plaques presented to Distinguished Members since the Hall of Fame opened in 1976. The museum has the largest collection of wrestling artifacts and memorabilia in the world, including the most collegiate and Olympic wrestling uniforms. Wrestling truly is for everyone and the diversity and accessibility of the sport continues to be highlighted through exhibits featuring females, African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latino Americans. There is also a library featuring historical documents, including NCAA guides and results, as well as books on the sport. For more information about the Hall of Fame, please visit
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