Alex Facundo (Photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Tuesday announced that Alex Facundo of Davison, Michigan, is the 2021 national winner of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award (DSHSEA).
"I am honored to have been chosen as the 2021 national winner of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award," said Facundo. "I have the deepest respect and admiration for Dave Schultz, who achieved so much, both on and off the mat. To have my name spoken in the same breath as Dave Schultz is truly amazing.
"To have my name on the same list as past winners like 2021 Olympic champ David Taylor is incredible," he added. "I will continue to have the same passion and commitment to 'the world's greatest sport' known to mankind - Wrestling. I hope I can inspire youth and give them hope that they too can achieve great things if they put their soul into whatever they choose to do in LIFE. I will continue to chase excellence. Again I am humbled and truly grateful for the recognition."
The national winner 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 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.
"We are excited to honor Alex Facundo as the national winner of the 2021 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award," said Executive Director Lee Roy Smith. "This award and honor represents the National Wrestling Hall of Fame's pride in a young man who has demonstrated a commitment to balancing his pursuit of excellence in the fields of academics, athletics and community service."
The son of Pablo and Julie Facundo, he is a four-time Michigan state champion who helped Davison High School capture the state team title in 2021, its first team title since 2006. The top-ranked wrestler in the country the last three years, Facundo will continue his wrestling career at Penn State University.
Facundo won the United World Wrestling Freestyle Championship in 2018 and 2019 and earned bronze medals at the Cadet World Championships in 2018 and 2019. He was the Freestyle Nationals champion in 2017 and won the Super 32 in 2018.
His invitation to train with the USA Wrestling Elite Accelerator Program for a full year before the Olympics was cancelled because of the pandemic.
An academic all-league and all-state selection, he was a member of the honor roll and selected as the Greater Flint Kiwanis Student Athlete of the Month.
Facundo volunteers at Lighthouse Rehabilitation Center, an organization that is very important to him as his mother suffered a traumatic brain injury.
He becomes the second national winner from Michigan, joining Taylor Massa from St. John's High School in St. John's, Michigan, who was the 2012 winner.
Ohio has had the most national winners with five followed by Pennsylvania with three and California, Michigan, Minnesota and Oklahoma with two winners each. Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin have each had one winner.
Regional winners are selected from state winners, and the national winner is chosen from the regional winners. 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 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 20 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) and Teyon Ware (2002). The 2018 winner David Carr won a title in 2021 while 2016 winner Mark Hall II won an NCAA title as a freshman in 2017 and 2015 winner Zahid Valencia won back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019.
All-Time National Winners of Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award
2020 - Braxton Amos, Parkersburg South High School, Mineral Wells, West Virginia
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 (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 (Olympic Champion, 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 - 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