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Danbury’s Ryan Jack selected to receive Dave Schultz Award

Danbury High senior Ryan Jack, left, has been named the Dave Schultz winner from Connecticut.

DANBURY, May 16, 2020 — Danbury High senior Ryan Jack has been selected as the Connecticut winner of the Dave Schultz Excellence Award by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

The award is presented annually to a high school senior based on outstanding wrestling success, scholastic achievement and citizenship and/or community service.

Jack is the fifth Danbury High wrestler to win the Dave Schultz award and the first since his older brother, Kevin, won the award in 2014.

Ryan Jack (37-1) capped off a stellar scholastic career this winter by becoming just the third wrestler in state history to win four consecutive State Open championships and earning a spot in the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame by capturing his third New England championship.

Ryan Jack is just the second wrestler in state history to win three New England titles. Ledyard’s T.J. Hepburn was the first in 1992.

Danbury High coach Ricky Shook praised Ryan Jack after winning his fourth State Open title, the first Connecticut wrestler to achieve that feat since 1998.

“It hadn’t been done in (22) years. It’s a very special (achievement) because the way that Connecticut’s level (of wrestling) is so high. Our wrestling is a lot better than it was 25 years ago,” Shook said. “He has been pretty dominant and the pressure has been on him all year.”

“Not many people get a chance to do this (win four Open titles or three New England titles),” Shook said. “You have to be healthy and you have to be good.”

After winning the State Open, Ryan Jack said, “I know if I wrestle well that no one can beat me. That is my mindset. Coach Shook thought there was a lot of pressure but I just went out there like I usually do. I just go out there and see what happens and do my best.”

Jack struggled with some injuries this season to his shoulder and his elbow that made the season a bit more challenging. “I worked my way through it,” he said with a grin.

Jack was also named to the Wrestling USA All-American team and finished his scholastic career with a 167-8 record – the most career wins in school history.

The Jack brothers are the second pair of brothers from the state to win the award. Berlin’s Shawn Reynolds (1997) and Anthony Reynolds (1999) were also recognized.

The Dave Schultz Award was established in 1996 to honor Schultz, an Olympic and world champion whose career was cut short when he was murdered in January 1996. He is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (1996) and the United World Wrestling Hall of Fame (2016).

“This is the 25th year that we have presented our Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award and we’re excited to recognize another group of young men, who have excelled not only on the wrestling mat, but also in the classroom and in their communities,” said Lee Roy Smith, Hall of Fame Executive Director.

Connecticut winners of the Dave Schultz Excellence Award
1997 – Shawn Reynolds, Berlin
1998 – Brendan Harris, Somers
1999 – Anthony Reynolds, Berlin
2000 — Nick Ciarcia, Xavier
2001 – Allyn Quibble, Ledyard
2002 – Luis Murillo, Platt
2003 – Anthony Hayes, Danbury
2004 – Robert Tolk, Avon
2005 – Matt Tricario, Danbury
2006 – Matt Powers, Loomis Chaffee-Windsor
2007 – T.J. Hepburn, Ledyard
2008 – Tyler Banks, Griswold
2009 – Tim Vollaro, Somers
2010 – Charlie Costanzo, Danbury
2011 – Patrick Gillen, Shelton
2012 – R.J. LaBeef, Pomfret
2013—Elliot Antler, Xavier
2014 – Kevin Jack, Danbury
2015 – Zach Murillo, Southington
2016 – Charles Kane, Fairfield Warde
2017 – Baltazar Gonzalez, Ellis Tech
2018 – Jarod Kosman, Fitch
2019 – Sean Johnson, Ellis Tech
2020 – Ryan Jack, Danbury

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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