January - 26 - 2022

The National Wrestling Media Association has named its annual award winners for the 2020-21 season. All active members of the association are eligible to nominate individuals or outlets for awards. Those submissions are then broken down to a set of finalists per category, then the membership votes on those finalists and the most votes wins.

Photographer of the Year – G. Wyatt Schultz, The Predicament (posthumously)

Keeping wrestling on the move was the name of the game for Wyatt Schultz. A longtime truckdriver and owner of Iowa’s iconic wrestling publication, The Predicament, Schultz’s dedication to the sport and the kids in it never waned. After decades covering the sport, Schultz passed away in August of 2021. Wyatt’s work ethic made him a candidate for Photographer of the Year every year. In the wake of his passing the National Wrestling Media Association felt it was a fitting salute to a tireless worker like Schultz to name him as the organization’s photographer of the year for a second time. A previous winner in 2001-02, Schultz was inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2020 and was also a previous recipient of the IWCOA Dan McCool Media Award, named for the late Dan McCool, a previous NWMA award winner.

Schultz also received the 2013 Russ Smith Community Impact Award by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Dan Gable Museum. That award is given to an individual who demonstrates exceptional local impact on wrestling within the state of Iowa. He was also a 2003 recipient of President’s Award in Iowa as well. Schultz’s lengthy list of accomplishments pales in comparison to the lives he impacted, not just through photography, but through the publication of The Predicament. There wasn’t a level of wrestling Schultz was too big to cover. Kids tournaments, high school quads, Fargo, NCAA championships, Olympic Trials. If there was a mat in the state of Iowa, Schultz was around it with a camera.

Outlet of the Year - Des Moines Register

The Des Moines Register’s proud tradition of high-level wrestling coverage has continued unabated for decades, ranging from youth and high school levels, to the many successful collegiate programs in Iowa, to even national and international stories. The faces may change and the business of journalism may evolve, but the Register continues to make wrestling coverage a priority for readers in Iowa and around the country.

In recent years, Cody Goodwin has led the Register’s wrestling coverage team. He is a previous NWMA award-winner and takes the lead on all things wrestling in Iowa, with more than 300 high school teams, three Division I programs, as many as 25 more small-college programs, a budding girls and women’s wrestling presence, and a consistent place in national, international and Olympic competitions. Cody writes sharp features, in-depth analysis, provides his own commentary in his weekly mailbag, and hosts a podcast, In The Room, where he aims to continue the ongoing wrestling conversation throughout the year.

Behind Cody, Chad Leistikow offers the occasional column on the Iowa wrestling program, Randy Peterson will chime in on Iowa State happenings, a stable of elite photographers in Joe Cress, Bryon Houlgrave, Kelsey Kremer and Zach Boyden-Holmes, and a stable of sports reporters who assist as needed. At the top of it all, sports editor Zack Creglow and executive editor Carol Hunter help with coverage planning and guidance as needed.

This is the second time the Register has captured an award from the NWMA as a paper. Numerous writers, past and present, have won awards from the association as well.

Journalist of the Year – Seth Duckworth

If there’s wrestling being written about in Texas or Oklahoma, there’s a real good chance Seth Duckworth has been behind it. Coming from Cushing, Oklahoma where he was a three-time placewinner and two-time state finalist from 2002-05, Duckworth’s work covering one of the nation’s most iconic wrestling programs, Oklahoma State, has been notable. Through Pistols Firing, Duckworth made a name for himself, all while developing his writing skills while holding down positions in the nation’s armed services, including a mobilization in Fort Bliss, Texas as a Mil-Tech and Mobility Warrant Officer in the Army Reserves.

Duckworth’s worth has been widely read at Pistols Firing, InterMat, Owrestle.com and TexasWrestle.

This is Duckworth’s first NWMA award.

Podcast of the Year – Etched in Stone, National Wrestling Hall of Fame

The second Podcast of the Year award is presented to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s historical series, Etched in Stone. Developed by past NCAA champion Pat Christenson, the series tells episodic historical stories about the Hall’s Distinguished Members. So far, the podcast has featured individual series’ on Mark Churella and Lloyd “Butch” Keaser as well as a longer docu-series about the Smith family of Oklahoma.

The Etched in Stone features have been written by Christenson, Mike Finn and Ryan Warner, with production and editing by Warner and Jason Bryant. Warner was the recipient of last year’s Podcast of the Year with his Wrestling Changed My Life Show, while Bryant, the current President of the NWMA, has won numerous awards from the association.

Broadcaster of the year - Bryan Hazard

Known more as a wrestling coach and a PA announcer, Bryan Hazard has become a familiar voice to wrestling fans worldwide. Prior to announcing the NCAA Division I championships, Hazard was a regular matside broadcaster during the NCAA championships through Live Sports Radio and ESPN.com. Hazard has been the voice of a number of international broadcasts, including the 2015, 2019 and 2021 World Championships. In Oslo, he was called into emergency duty in a color commentary role for Greco-Roman and women's freestyle while also serving as one of the event's PA announcers. During the pandemic, Hazard filled roles on the mic with Flowrestling's eight-man cards, Journeymen and Tyrant events and even did double duty at Nittany Lion Wrestling Club events and the Journeymen Collegiate Duals on Rokfin.

Hazard is a dynamic mind with a wrestling pedigree to match - the coach of numerous state championship teams at Robinson Secondary in Northern Virginia, Hazard also was a Cadet National Champion in Greco-Roman during his days as a competitor and he wrestled collegiately at nearby George Mason University. This is Hazard’s first award from the NWMA.

Division I SID of the Year – Joe Wedra, Univeristy of North Carolina

In a short time with the University of North Carolina’s wrestling program, Maryland native Joe Wedra emerged as one of the top young communications professionals in the country. While serving as both the Director of Operations and Sports Information Director for the Tar Heels’ nationally ranked wrestling program, Wedra’s duties included more than just wraps and photos, but handling numerous aspects of the wrestling program that extend beyond the typical duties of an SID. Wedra’s unique skillset led head coach Coleman Scott to create that Director of Operations position within the program. Wedra describes Scott as one of his biggest supporters and a “dynamic, creative leader.”

Wedra’s proficiency is social media, content creation and journalism shone through. After graduating, Wedra’s work at UNC and with the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Fort Worth helped him land a position at USA Wrestling in its communications department.

This is Wedra’s first NWMA award.

Small College SID of the Year - Billy Mangum, Life University

Mangum enters his fourth year as the Sports Information Director at Life University for the 2021-22 year. In his time with the Running Eagles, he has expanded Life University Athletics' presence on social media. The department Instagram account has grown by more than 2,800 followers in his time. In 2019, Mangum was awarded first place and sixth place in the NAIA-SIDA Publications Contest for his graphic design skills as well as being instrumental in the inaugural Hall of Fame Class for 2019 at Life U.

Before coming to Life University, he spent a year at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Mo. There he implemented a social media strategy that again garnered recognition from NAIA-SIDA with the Walt McAlexander Sport Poster award for designing the best schedule poster. Mangum was responsible for all aspects of athletic communications for all varsity and junior varsity programs.

He extended his career in sports information at Auburn University at Montgomery for two years (2015-2017) where he was the Lead Sports Information Graduate Assistant. With the Warhawks, Mangum established himself with his social media presence that garnered attention from NAIA-SIDA as the SID staff was named the 2015-16 Gary Spitler Memorial Award for Excellence in Publications.

His duties at Life University include covering all 23 of the athletic programs on campus as well as designing and maintaining all social media accounts. Specifically with the men’s wrestling team, he is responsible for updating the roster as well as making sure the graphics are put together to celebrate the accomplishments of the student athletes.

This is Mangum's first award from the NWMA.

Categories: Awards, Media Updates

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