Major Ray Mendoza Award

The Major Ray Mendoza Award is presented to an individual wrestler who scores the most team points at the annual Ironman, Beast of the East or national prep tournament. The award was created by Col. (ret) David Ritterpusch, author of The Standard of Excellence, an extensive history of Blair wrestling, to honor the late Major Ray Mendoza '87, a standout wrestler during his time at Blair, who was killed-in-action in Iraq in November 2005.

The winners of the Mendoza Award have gone on to remarkable wrestling achievements at the national and international levels. Thanks to a completely objective selection process, the award has proven to be an accurate predictor of later wrestling success. The importance of having the award tied to a wrestler’s optimal contribution to his team serves to honor Major Mendoza, who gave his life for his country.

In the 30 times that the Mendoza Award has been presented, beginning at Ironman in December 2009, only twice has the Mendoza winner also been named the respective tournament's Outstanding Wrestler (OW), a subjective accolade determined by a  committee vote. Spencer Lee earned both titles at Ironman in 2013 and went on to win NCAA’s at 125 lbs in 2018. At the December 2018 Ironman, Ryan Anderson was the co-Mendoza winner with Colton Schultz, and was named OW.

Blair Academy wrestlers have won the Mendoza Award 10 times. Among the Blair Mendoza winners are current three-time NCAA All-Americans Joey McKenna (Ohio State) and Matt Kolodzik (Princeton). Joey has placed 3rd, 3rd and 2nd. Matt has placed 7th, 3rd and 5th.

The most recent Blair Mendoza winners are current Blair stars Michael Colaiocco and Julian Ramirez. Michael won the Mendoza at the 2017 Ironman and 2019 National Preps; Julian won the Mendoza at the 2018 Beast of the East. 

It is noteworthy that the United States’ only Olympic Gold Medalist in Rio and its youngest world champion ever was a two-time winner of the Major Ray Mendoza Award while he was in high school.

Achievements By Mendoza Award Winners 

  • Olympic Gold Medalist
    • Kyle Snyder, USA, 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
  • Two World Champions
    • Kyle Snyder, USA, 2015* & 2017
      *Youngest USA world champion in history 
  • One World Silver Medal
    • Kyle Snyder, USA, 2018 
  • Nine Individual NCAA Championship Titles 
    • Zain Retherford, Penn State, 2016, 2017, 2018
    • Kyle Snyder, Ohio State, 2016, 2017, 2018
    • Myles Martin, Ohio State, 2016
    • Spencer Lee, Iowa, 2018, 2019
  • 41 NCAA All-American Placements
    • Awardees have placed in the top three at the NCAA championships many times. The most recent top-three finishes by Mendoza winners were Spencer Lee’s 2019 championship, the second-place finishes in 2019 by Jack Mueller and Joey McKenna and the third-place finish in 2019 by Myles Martin.  

Major Ray Mendoza Award Recipients

Year Tournament Wrestler Team Year Weight Class
2009 Ironman Nick Sulzer St. Edward (OH) Senior 160 lbs.
2009 Beast of the East Mike McMullan Wyoming Seminary (PA) Senior 285 lbs
2010 National Preps Don McNeil Wyoming Seminary (PA) Senior 215 lbs.
2010 Ironman Morgan McIntosh Calvary Chapel (CA) Senior 189 lbs.
2010 Beast of the East Mark Grey Blair Academy (NJ) Junior 125 lbs.
2011 National Preps Joey McKenna Blair Academy (NJ) Freshman 103 lbs.
2011 National Preps Mark Grey Blair Academy (NJ) Junior 125 lbs.
2011 National Preps Evan Henderson Kiski Prep (PA) Senior 140 lbs.
2011 Ironman Randy Cruz Bethlehem Catholic (PA) Senior 132 lbs.
2011 Beast of the East Zach Epperly Christiansburg (VA) Junior 160 lbs.
2012 National Preps Dominic Malone Wyoming Seminary (PA) Senior 126 lbs.
2012 Ironman Zain Retherford Benton (PA) Senior 138 lbs.
2012 Beast of the East Kyle Snyder Good Counsel (MD) Junior 220 lbs.
2013 National Preps Kyle Snyder Good Counsel (MD) Junior 220 lbs.
2013 Ironman Spencer Lee Franklin Regional (PA) Freshman 113 lbs.
2013 Beast of the East Zeke Moisey Bethlehem Catholic (PA) Senior 126 lbs.
2014 National Preps Matt Kolodzik Blair Academy (NJ) Junior 126 lbs.
2014 Ironman Anthony Vallencia St. John Bosco (CA) Senior 170 lbs.
2014 Ironman Kevin Vought Elyria (OH) Sophomore 285 lbs.
2014 Beast of the East Myles Martin McDonogh (MD) Senior 182 lbs.
2015 National Preps Matt Kolodzik Blair Academy (NJ) Senior 138 lbs.
2015 Ironman Jack Mueller Trinity Christian (TX) Senior 120 lbs.
2015 Beast of the East Ben Darmstadt Elyria (OH) Senior 195 lbs.
2016 National Preps Brandon Dallavia Blair Academy (NJ) Senior 170 lbs.
2016 Ironman Sammy Sasso Nazareth (PA) Junior 145 lbs.
2016 Beast of the East Michael Beard Malvern Prep (PA) Junior 182 lbs.
2017 National Preps Chase Singletary Blair Academy (NJ) Senior 220 lbs.
2017 Ironman Michael Colaiocco Blair Academy (NJ) Junior 120 lbs.
2017 Beast of the East Pat Glory Delbarton (NJ) Senior 126 lbs.
2018 National Preps Colin Lawler Kinkaid (TX) Senior 285 lbs.
2018 Ironman Ryan Anderson Bethlehem Catholic (PA) Senior 145 lbs.
2018 Ironman Colton Schultz Ponderosa (CO) Senior 285 lbs.
2018 Beast of the East Julian Ramirez Blair Academy (NJ) Senior 170 lbs.
2019 National Preps Michael Colaiocco Blair Academy (NJ) Senior 126 lbs
2019 National Preps Isaac Righter Mt. St. Joseph (MD) Junior 285 lbs