National Wrestling Hall of Fame announces state, regional winners of Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Awards
Alex Liles of Texas, shown competing at the 2018 Western Junior Regionals, is among the five Regional winners of the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award.
STILLWATER, Okla. – National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Friday announced the state and regional winners for the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award (TSHSEA).
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 national winner will be announced on Monday, May 14. The national winner will be presented with her award during the 42nd Annual Honors Weekend at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum on June 1-2 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. For information on Honors Weekend please telephone (405) 377-5243.
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.
“Because young women are being given more opportunities to wrestle, we are able to recognize 32 Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award state winners this year, up from 24 a year ago,” said Executive Director Lee Roy Smith. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re moving in the right direction and these young women are tremendous examples of great wrestlers who are also strong students and positive role models.”
Missouri recently voted to make girls wrestling an official high school sport, becoming the third state this season, along with Georgia and Oregon, to add high school girls wrestling. There are now nine states that will host state-sanctioned girls wrestling championships: Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Missouri, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.
The state 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 the High School Excellence awards, and a committee, with input from Hall of Fame state chapters, selects state and regional winners. National winners are then chosen from the regional winners.
The 2018 Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award Regional Winners are:
West: Alleida Martinez of Selma, California, is a four-time California High School state champion and four-year team captain for Selma High School. The daughter of Esbeide Belmontes and Noe Martinez, she helped Selma win two state team titles. Martinez won a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships in 2016 and was a silver medalist in 2015. She was a U23 runner-up in 2018 and a Fargo junior champion and a junior national folkstyle runner-up in 2017. In 2015 and 2016, Martinez won back-to-back junior national and cadet national folkstyle championships as well as the Fargo and Body Bar titles. She also ran cross country and was a state qualifier and team captain for two years. Martinez has performed over 50 hours of community service with the Selma High School ROTC program while also volunteering at the Highland Games, Jackson Elementary Carnival and the Selma Sikh Parade. She has volunteered to place flags on veteran graves as well as serving as part of flag honor guard at other events. She has a 3.52 GPA and has signed a letter of intent to wrestle for Menlo College.
Central: Alexandria Liles of Allen, Texas is a four-time Texas High School state champion for Allen High School. The daughter of Eric and Jessica Liles, she had a career record of 89-0, becoming the first undefeated four-time state champion, and was named Outstanding Wrestler at the state tournament as a freshman, as a junior and as a senior. Liles finished first in both cadet and junior at Fargo in 2016 and repeated as junior champion in 2017. She finished third in both cadet and junior at Fargo in 2015 and won the Junior Folkstyle Nationals in 2015 and 2016. Liles won the United World Wrestling Cadet national championship in 2015 and 2017, finishing ninth at the world championships, and won a silver medal at the Cadet Pan American Games in 2015. She volunteers at the Rick Anthony Athletic Foundation as both a peer leader and fitness mentor. Liles will become a resident athlete at the United States Olympic Training Center.
Midwest: Jayden Laurent of Denmark, Wisconsin, is the top-ranked wrestler at 144 pounds in the National Girls High School Rankings. The daughter of Denise Kinjerski, she won a gold medal at the Cadet Pan American Games in 2016 and finished first in freestyle and folkstyle at the junior national championships. Laurent won both freestyle and folkstyle at the cadet national championships and placed second at the junior national championships in freestyle in 2016. She lettered in basketball, softball, track and volleyball at Denmark High School. She was all-conference in softball three times while being named second-team all-conference in basketball and winning the conference title in the 200-meters. Laurent has a 3.4 GPA and has signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Lakeland University, whose new program will begin competing in 2018-19.
Northeast: Hailey Cancelleri of Staten Island, New York, is a four-time New York City champion and a two-time New York High School state champion for Curtis High School. The daughter of Madellyn Cuevas and Michael Cancelleri, she also was a state freestyle champion, a cadet national champion and a two-time Gotham City champion. Cancelleri volunteers at a nursing home and Sea View Hospital while also working to clean area cemeteries and placing flags for Memorial Day. She ranks at the top of her nursing program class and has a 3.67 overall GPA. Cancelleri has signed a letter of intent to wrestle at King University.
Southeast: Kenya Sloan of Knoxville, Tennessee, is a four-time Tennessee High School state champion for Hardin Valley Academy and is the top-ranked wrestler at 180 pounds in the National Girls High School Rankings. The daughter of Lee and Ginger Sloan, she had a career record of 87-0 and pinned her way through the state tournament all four years. Sloan was named Outstanding Wrestler at the state tournament as a senior and won United World Wrestling Cadet women’s freestyle national championship in 2017. She plays bass in the school orchestra and leads high school devotional for teenagers. Sloan has a 4.0 GPA and has signed a letter of intent to wrestle for Campbellsville University.
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 (10) – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, 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
2018 Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award State Winners
State – Name, High School, City, College Attending
Alaska – Sydnee Kimber, Mount Edgecumbe High School, Sitka
Arizona – Brooke Logan, Liberty High School, El Mirage
Arkansas – Pella Wisniowski, Conway High School, Conway
California – Alleida Martinez, Selma High School, Selma
Colorado – Marissa Gallegos, Skyview High School, Brighton
Connecticut – Cara Broadus, Keystone School, Terryville
Florida – Ana Luciano, Osceola High School, Kissimmee
Georgia – Kasey Baynon, Statesboro, Statesboro, Emmanuel College
Hawaii – Teniya Alo, Kahuku High School, Honolulu
Idaho – Lana Hunt-Waddoups, Blackfoot High School, Pocatello
Illinois – Grace Kristoff, Althoff Catholic High School, Belleville, McKendree College
Indiana – Madison Burke, Penn High School, Mishawaka
Iowa -Felicity Taylor, South Winneshiek High School, Spillville
Kansas – Breanna Douglas, Paola High School, Paola
Maryland – Cassandra Lopez, Mount Hebron High School, Ellicott, Presbyterian College
Massachusetts – Isabella Ricchiazzi, Framingham High School, Framingham, University of the Cumberlands
Michigan – Zoe Nowicki, Coldwater High School, Coldwater
Minnesota – Makayla Welch, Cambridge Isanti High School, Mora, King University
Montana – Glory Konecny, Billings West High School, Billings
New York – Hailey Cancelleri, Curtis High School, Staten Island
North Carolina – My Nguyen, First Flight High School, Kill Devil Hills
Ohio – Mckhenna Calhoun, Barberton High School, Akron, Tiffin University
Oklahoma – Madison Dekker, Cleveland High School, Cleveland
Oregon – Jade Piper, Gold Beach High School, Gold Beach
Pennsylvania – Ashlynn Ortega, Wyoming Seminary, Pueblo, Colorado,
Tennessee – Kenya Sloan, Hardin Valley Academy, Knoxville, Campbellsville University
Texas – Alexandria Liles, Allen High School, Allen, Olympic Training Center
Utah – Hailey Cox, Maple Mountain High School, Mapleton
Virginia – Jesse Kirby, Culpepper County High School, Rixeyville
Washington – Cameron Guerin, Davis High School, Yakima
West Virginia – Sierra Powell, Hampshire High School, Capon Bridge
Wisconsin – Jayden Laurent, Denmark High School, Denmark, Lakeland College
All-Time National Winners of Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award
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
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 www.NWHOF.org.