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National Wrestling Hall of Fame names Cael Hughes (OK) as national winner of Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award

by Jack Carnefix, National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Cael Hughes (OK), Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award winner graphic

STILLWATER, Okla. - The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Wednesday announced that Cael Hughes of Glencoe, Oklahoma, is the 2023 national winner of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award (DSHSEA).

“Receiving the national Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award is an incredible honor that I am very thankful for,” said Hughes. “I have always looked up to athletes like Dave Schultz, who show excellence on and off the mat, and it has always been a priority of mine to do the same.

“I want to thank God and my family for blessing me and helping me achieve my dreams,” he added. “I will continue to give my all to this sport that I love and when I complete my wrestling career I have every intention of giving back to the sport that made me who I am today.”

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.

The Hall of Fame on Tuesday announced that Kira Pipkins of Bloomfield, New Jersey was the 2023 national winner of the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award (TSHSEA). 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.

Hughes and Pipkins 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

“Cael has shown that he not only has an intense desire and passion to excel in the sport of wrestling, but also in the classroom and in the community,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Lee Roy Smith. “He holds himself to a high standard as an athlete and student while respecting others and impacting his community and the world in a positive way.”

Hughes 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.

He becomes the third national winner from Oklahoma, joining Teyon Ware in 2002 and Daton Fix in 2017.

Ohio has the most national winners with five followed by Oklahoma and Pennsylvania with three and California, Michigan and Minnesota with two winners each. Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin have each had one winner.

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).

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

Year - Name, High School, Hometown, State (Superlatives)
2023 - Cael Hughes, Stillwater High School, Glencoe, 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 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

2023 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award Regional Winners

Region - Name, Hometown, State, High School, College Attending
Central Region - Cael Hughes, Glencoe, Oklahoma, Stillwater High School, Oklahoma State University
Midwest Region - Ben Kueter, Iowa City, Iowa, Iowa City High School, University of Iowa
Northeast Region - Jimmy Mullen, Hopatcong, New Jersey, St. Joseph Regional High School, Virginia Tech University
Southeast Region - Ernie Perry III, Bossier City, Louisiana, Airline High School, Cornell University
West Region - Hayden Walters, Central Point, Oregon, Crater High School, University of Michigan

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

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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