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Ebert, Nichols honored with Dave Schultz and Tricia Saunders Awards, respectively

Fairfield Warde’s Will Ebert, left, and Bristol Eastern’s Ella Nichols, at the recent Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame induction banquet, are the state’s winners of the 2022 Dave Schultz and Tricia Saunders awards, respectively.

Fairfield Warde’s Will Ebert and Bristol Eastern’s Ella Nichols were recently selected at the Connecticut winners of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award and the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Each award recognized an outstanding senior for their excellence in wrestling, scholastic achievement, citizenship and community service. The Hall of Fame accepts nominations for its high school excellence awards from state chapters and coaches.

Ebert, who will attend Binghamton University in the fall, went 51-0 in his senior season, winning a National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) national championship in Virginia Beach in April.

Ebert became the seventh Connecticut wrestler to win a NHSCA national championship tournament and the third wrestler to win a Senior National event by taking the 160-pound weight class with a pin in one minute over Florida’s Jonathan Ley.

The top-seeded Ebert (51-0) had five pins in six matches and gave up just one point at the national tournament – a second period escape in a third round victory.

Ebert finished undefeated in New England with a 45-0 record at 170 pounds. The senior won the Class LL, State Open and New England championships this winter.

He was named the state’s wrestler of the year by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association and by GameTimeCT, the chain of print and online print publications in southern Connecticut.

Nichols became the first Connecticut girl to win a NHSCA championship with her victory at 144 pounds. Nichols won the title with a 5-2 win over Ruby Rios of Washington State.

Nichols went 5-0 in the national tournament with two pins (33, 22 seconds) and a technical fall. Nichols beat Georgia’s Raven Cook, 15-0 in just 2:53 in the quarterfinals before beating California’s Aalijah Pinedaca in the semifinals, 10-4.

In the final, Nichols got a takedown and three-point near fall to grab a 5-0 lead after one period. Nichols finishes her high school career with three NHSCA All-American medals. She was fourth in 2021 and seventh in 2019 as a freshman. There was no tournament in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She is the tenth wrestler in state history to be a three-time NHSCA All-American.

In February, Nichols won the CIAC Girls State Championship meet for the second time and was named Outstanding Wrestler. During the high school season, Nichols was a starter on the boys team at Bristol Eastern at 152 pounds, going 23-8 in competition against the boys.

The Dave Schultz award was first awarded in 1996 to honor Schultz, the Olympic and world champion who was murdered in January 1996. The Tricia Saunders award was first presented in 2014 to recognize Saunders, a four-time world champion and women’s wrestling pioneer.


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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