National Wrestling Hall of Fame announces Dean Hamiti Jr. as Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award Winner

Photo courtesy of Shaw Media – The Joliet Herald News

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

Recent Joliet Catholic Academy graduate Dean Hamiti Jr. was announced as Illinois’ award winner. The three-time IHSA state champion Hilltopper wrestler leaves JCA as the most storied individual athlete in school history. Hamiti, who is currently attending the University Wisconsin on an academic and athletic, was a favorite to win his fourth IHSA individual state championship this past winter, but the tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

JCA head wrestling coach Ryan Cumbee said, “this award and recognition goes beyond DJ as an athlete. It is a testament to his focus on all aspects of being a well-rounded young man. I am so proud of him and have no doubt he will see continued success as he navigates life at the University of Wisconsin.”

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 award 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. 

“This year has been so hard for so many seniors whose seasons and state championships were either shortened, postponed or canceled as a result of the pandemic,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Lee Roy Smith. “Despite the many challenges they encountered, these student-athletes demonstrated tremendous resolve while working to achieve their academic and athletic goals. 

“In recognition of their fortitude, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame is excited to recognize these young men with our Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award, and we wish them continued success, on and off the mat.” 

DSHSEA regional winners will be announced on July 27 and the national winner will be announced on August 10. Regional winners are selected from state winners, and the national winner will be chosen from the regional winners. 

The state winners of the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award (TSHSEA) will be 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 regional winners will be announced on July 28 and the national winner will be announced on August 11. 

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. 

Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award

2021 State Winners

(State – Name, High School, Hometown, College Attending if they are wrestling in college)

Alabama – Mason Blackwell, Wetumpka HS

Alaska – Jared Hopkins, Colony HS, Campbell

Arizona – Ramon Ramos, Casteel HS, Arizona State

Arkansas – Caleb Winston, Greenbrier HS

California – Richard Figueroa, Selma HS, Arizona State

Colorado – Vince Cornella, Monarch HS, Cornell

Connecticut – Nico Provo, Greens Farms Academy, Cornell

Delaware – Kevin Hudson, Caesar Rodney HS

Florida – Jaekus Hines, Osceola HS, Appalachian State

Georgia – Caden McCrary, Woodland HS, North Carolina

Hawaii – Branden Pagurayan, Kapolei HS, Wyoming

Idaho – Drew Roberts, Coeur d’Alene High School, Minnesota

Illinois – Dean Hamiti Jr., Joliet Catholic Academy, Wisconsin

Indiana – Alex Cottey, Perry Meridian HS, Tennessee-Chattanooga

Iowa – Drake Ayala, Fort Dodge HS, Iowa

Kansas – Jared Simma, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Northern Iowa

Kentucky – Spencer Moore, Walton-Verona HS, North Carolina

Louisiana – Peyton Ward, Saint Paul’s School

Maine – Joshua Cote, Noble HS, Maine

Maryland – Cooper Flynn, McDonogh School, Virginia Tech

Massachusetts – Max Leete, Danvers HS, American

Michigan – Alex Facundo, Davison HS, Penn State

Minnesota – Derrick Cardinal, Forest Lake HS, South Dakota State

Missouri – Nathan Pulliman, Rolla HS, Missouri

Montana – Cooper Birdwell, Fergus HS, Oklahoma State

Nebraska – Evan Canoyer, Waverly HS, Cornell

Nevada – Devin Griffen, Spanish Springs HS, Reinhardt

New Hampshire – Conor Maslanek, Pelham HS, Campbell

New Jersey – Shayne Van Ness, Blair Academy, Penn State

New Mexico – Alex Holguin, Cobre HS, Colorado Mesa

New York – Stevo Poulin, Shenendehowa HS, North Carolina State

North Carolina – Richard Treanor, Hough HS, U.S. Military Academy

North Dakota – Reece Barnhardt, St. Mary’s Central HS, University of Mary

Ohio – Padraic Gallagher, Lakewood St. Edward HS, Ohio State

Oklahoma – Tate Picklo, Mustang HS, Oklahoma

Oregon – Chance Lamer, Crescent Valley HS, Michigan

Pennsylvania – Alejandro Herrera-Rondon, Seneca HS, Oklahoma

Rhode Island – Nicholas Fine, Bishop Hendricken HS, Columbia

South Carolina – Chris Compton, James F. Byrnes HS

South Dakota – Sam Kruger, Winner HS, South Dakota State

Tennessee – Alex Whitworth, McCallie School, Dalton, Harvard

Texas – Braxton Brown, Allen HS, Maryland

Utah – Lucas Cochran, Box Elder HS, Penn State

Vermont – Sam Worthing, Fair Haven Union HS

Virginia – Erik Roggie, St. Christopher’s School, Virginia

Washington – Steele Starren, Tahoma HS, Issaquah

West Virginia – Gavin Quiocho, Parkersburg South HS Glenville State

Wisconsin – Matty Bianchi, Two Rivers HS of Arkansas-Little Rock

Wyoming – Analu Benabise, Kelly Walsh HS, Wyoming 

Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award

All-Time National Winners

   2020 – Braxton Amos, Parkersburg South HS, Mineral Wells, West Virginia

   2019 – Cohlton Schultz, Ponderosa HS, Colorado (Greco-Roman Cadet World Champion)

   2018 – David Carr, Perry HS, Ohio (NCAA Champion and Junior World Champion)

   2017 – Daton Fix, Charles Page High School, Sand Springs, Oklahoma (Junior World Champion)

   2016 – Mark Hall II, Apple Valley High School, Apple Valley, Minnesota (NCAA Champion and 2X Junior 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 (World Champion 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 – (tie) Garrett Lowney, Freedom High School, Appleton, Wisconsin (2X Olympian) 

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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