FRAMINGHAM- Annually, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame announces state and regional winners for the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award. The 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.
Framingham High wrestler Bella Ricchiazzi was awarded the award for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
First presented in 2014, the Saunders award 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, in a media release. “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.
Ricchiazzi finished second at the U.S. Marine Corps Girls Folkstyle Nationals in Oklahoma in March.
A nationally ranked high school wrestler, she won the Connecticut and New England titles in her weight class.
She was one of the captains of the Framingham High co-ed wrestling team, that won the Bay State Conference title.
Ricchiazzi will attend the University of the Cumberlands in the fall. She plans to wrestle and play lacrosse in college.
Petroni Media Company photo from 2017