St. Paul's Peyton Ward wins NWHOF Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award  for Louisiana
September 13th, 2021| Written by: Staff writer




Peyton Ward, a two-time Division I state champion for the St. Paul Wolves, was named the 2021 Louisiana Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award winner by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, located in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  The names of the winners were announced on July 20th.

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."

Ward had a 3.89 GPA at St. Paul, which secured his place as an LHSAA All-Academic Team member.  Rather than pursue wrestling at the next level he decided to commit to his studies at LSU, where he is currently leaning towards a business-related degree.  He was in the Honors English Program at St. Paul as a junior and senior and was in the Key Club.  He volunteered at Habitat for Humanity.

A list of all 2021 Dave Schultz Award winners may be found at the NWHOF website.

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LHSAA State Wrestling Championships
2018 - 3rd at 120 lbs. 2019 - 2nd at 132 lbs. 2020 - 1st at 152 lbs. 2021 - 1st at 160 lbs.

Ward's career started strong, which too often with young wrestlers in the lighter weight classes does not guarantee success in the future.  Not so for this young man.  He placed third in the state championships in 2018, second in 2019, won in 2020 and repeated in 2021, along with a Louisiana Classic title and an undefeated season.  His season records were 42-7, 33-6, 43-2 and 16-0 (as I count them, which does not include forfeits but does have a margin of error, sadly). 

Looking at those who defeated Ward says a lot - they all did well.  As a freshman, he lost once to Rummel's Blake Mateau (D1 2nd, D2 1st x3); thrice to Michael Lundin of Holy Cross (D1 1st, 3rd x 2); Parkway's Zachary Harper (D2 3rd); Brother Martin's Justin Leal (D1 2nd).  As a sophomore he lost thrice to Daniel Croy of Brother Martin (D1 1st x 3) and once to Byrd's Jacob Yawn (D1 2nd), Jesuit's Luke Eccles (D1 1st, 2nd and 3rd) and Brusly Calep Balcuns (1st x 2).  He lost two matches as a junior, each by one point.  The first was to Brother Martin's Riley Horvath 3-2.  He defeated Horvath by a point in OT earlier and later 5-1 in the state finals.   His other loss was 4-3 in the Louisiana Classic finals to North Desoto's Richard Mack.  (A lot of people believed Ward scored a takedown as the match ended.)  His closest match as a senior was an 11-8 win over Rummel's Jacob Ramirez, who would win his second Division II state championship at the River Center also.

Another way to look at his career is by the caliber of the competition he beat.  Over four years, primarily against Division I competition, he won matches over wrestlers who, when combined, placed third five times, were state runners-up 29 times and who won 17 state championships.  Not too shabby, there.

Despite the close matches with Horvath the Elder, Ward, according to his father John, never considered anyone in particular as a nemesis.  "Peyton's "nemesis" was anyone in his weight class at the time.  I don't think he singled anyone out.  Every time he stepped on the mat, he expected a win.  The toughest opponent that he's admitted to wrestling was Ethan Pickren from Fort Walton."  (In December of 2017, Ethan Pickren, a senior from South Walton High School, defeated Ward, then a sophomore, yet top-seeded after Friday's qualifying pools, 15-0 in the finals of the South Walton Border Wars.)

Peyton's father, while acknowledging the superb job St. Paul coach Matt Pinero and his staff did with Peyton in high school, also noted that Cody Hesser was a large part of Peyton's success, as Peyton started wrestling as a Titan with the Ascension Wrestling Club.

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2021 LACL Finals 2021 LACL Finals 2021 LACL
2020 LACL Finals 2019 vs. Riley Horvath

Ward faced Brother Martin Crusaders brothers in both of his state championships finals.  As a junior, he split his first two matches with Crusader senior Riley Horvath, each one decided by one point.  As a senior (and once as a junior) he faced Rocco Mediate in the Louisiana Classic and State finals.  Rocco will be a senior in the 2021-22 season.

2021 State Quarterfinals 2021 State Semifinals 2021 State Finals 2021 State Finals 2021 State Finals

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Dave Schultz, from Palo Alto, California, won a California state championship in 1977 (he started wrestling as a junior).  He was an NCAA All-American at Oklahoma State University and twice at the University of Oklahoma, where he won an NCAA national championship in 1982.

Then he got serious.

In 1983 he won a freestyle World Championship, followed by a gold medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.  He won World Cup freestyle championships in 1980, 1982, 1994 and 1995.   In 1986 he won a gold medal at the Goodwill Games and did the same at the Pan-American Games in 1987.

The award was established in 1996 after Schultz was murdered while training at the Foxcatcher center for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.


Previous Louisiana winners of the award are listed below:

Louisiana Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award Winners

Year Winner School Year Winner School Year Winner School Year Winner School
2020 Alex Yokubaitis St. Louis 2014 Cody Hill Live Oak 2008 Nick Shields Brother Martin 2002 Joseph Gulotta Brother Martin
2019 Patrick Evans Brother Martin 2013 Tyrek Malveaux Comeaux 2007 Kamron Johnston Parkway 2001 Richie Dixon Brother Martin
2018 Blake Mateu Rummel 2012 Scott Gibbons Rummel 2006 Mike Newberg Parkway 2000 Daniel Salter Northshore
2017 Steven Shields Brother Martin 2011 Mark Pinero Rummel 2005 Caleb Levee Mandeville 1999 Eddie Webb Lafayette
2016 Brock Bonin Teurlings Catholic 2010 Michael Love Catholic 2004 Vaalyn Jackson Sulphur 1998 Roderick Ratcliff McKinley
2015 Paul Klein Brother Martin 2009 Johnny Calcote Rummel 2003 Andrew Gruezke Jesuit 1997 Chad Boudreaux Rummel

Brother Martin wrestlers have won the award six times.  Rummel has five winners, followed by Parkway with two.  McKinley, Lafayette, Northshore, Jesuit, Sulphur, Mandeville, Catholic, Comeaux, Live Oak, Teurlings Catholic and St. Louis have one apiece.

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