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 27 times that the Mendoza Award has been presented, beginning in December 2009, only once has the Mendoza winner also been named the Outstanding Wrestler, a subjective accolade determined by a committee vote at a given tournament. Spencer Lee earned both titles at Ironman in December 2013 and went on to win an NCAA champion title at 125 pounds in 2018.

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 
  • Eight 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
  • 35 NCAA All-American Placements
    • Awardees have placed in the top three at the NCAA championships many times. The most recent NCAA third-place finishes were recorded in 2018 by former Blair wrestlers Joey McKenna, wrestling for The Ohio State University, and Matt Kolodzik, wrestling for Princeton University. This was each wrestler’s second NCAA All-American placement.

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.