Manheim, Pa. – Harvard regained the top spot in the annual Division I All-Academic Team and Individuals release on Monday by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
The Crimson sported an overall team grade-point average of 3.4122 and earned top honors for the third time in the last four years. Last year, coach Jay Weiss’ squad was second.
Awarded annually, the NWCA All-Academic team is comprised of 123 student-athletes. For the second year in a row, half of the Division I champions made the team, while two additional runner-ups were included. In all, 36 All-Americans were All-Academic selections, which is up from last year’s 28.
Of the 123, 108 of the student-athletes qualified for the NCAA Division I championships, up from 96 in 2014-15.
Penn State, which led all teams with six individual selections, had NCAA Division I champions Nico Megaludis (125 pounds) and Zain Retherford (149 pounds) represented, while other champions included Dean Heil of Oklahoma State (141 pounds), Gabe Dean of Cornell (184 pounds) and Kyle Snyder of Ohio State (285 pounds).
Sacred Heart checked in second, the highest in school history. The Pioneers, the only Catholic Division I school with wrestling and the only Division I program in the state of Connecticut, earned a 3.3845 GPA followed by Brown (3.36), Duke (3.3481) and Kent State (3.3254).
“One of the rigors of Division I athletics and wrestling specifically are the physical and mental demands,” said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. “It’s a testament to our sport that we have academically excelled in a variety of different educational environments. We know how tough the Ivy League schools are and the service academies and research universities all around the country, but to see our wrestling student-athletes thrive in those situations continues to show the value of our sport and the determination these young men have.”
“The job Jay Weiss has done at Harvard, with three out of the last four years being the top academic team, it’s outstanding. Harvard’s reputation surely lends itself to fine academics, some of the best in the world, but Coach Weiss’ teams have been consistently at the top for nearly a decade,” said Moyer.
Harvard had three individuals selected as All-Academic – Devon Gobbo, Jeffrey Ott and Josef Johnson.
The EIWA dominated the overall Top 30, with 12 of its 16 member schools included. The Southern Conference had four teams in the Top 30, which comprised the second-most from any one conference.
Penn, American, Gardner-Webb, Penn State and Eastern Michigan rounded out the top 10. Harvard, Brown, Duke American, Gardner-Webb and Eastern Michigan all were in the top 10 for the second straight season.
The team GPA was determined using a system that includes 12 student-athletes from each program. A total of 10 of these came from the wrestlers that were entries in the NCAA tournament conference qualifier.
Individually, in addition to Penn State’s two NCAA individual champions, the NCAA Division I team champions added Jordan Conaway, Jason Nolf, Geno Morelli and Matt McCutcheon.
“Coach Cael Sanderson has done a remarkable job in not just recruiting fine wrestlers, but recruiting outstanding student-athletes,” said Moyer. “It’s something we as a sport can point to when we see our championship programs not just bringing home hardware on the wrestling mat, but doing it in the classroom as well.”
Oklahoma State and Lehigh had the second-most individuals selected with five as Cowboys Gary Wayne Harding, Anthony Collica, Nolan Boyd and Preston Weigel joined Heil on the All-Academic Team.
Lehigh boasted Mason Beckman (133), Gordon Wolf (174), Nathaniel Brown (184), John Bolich (197) and Max Wessell (285) as All-Academic selections.
Fifty-five different schools had at least one athlete selected while 38 programs had multiple selections.
American, Nebraska, Ohio State, South Dakota State and Stanford each had four wrestlers represented.
North Dakota State’s Clayton Ream, this year’s Elite 90 winner from the NCAA, was one of two Bison wrestlers selected as All-Academic. He was joined by teammate Hayden Zillmer.
“The NWCA All-Academic Team and Individual Team is one of the best acknowledgements that we can give to our coaches and athletes at the end of a physically grueling season” said Moyer. “The NWCA Board of Directors and staff look forward to watching these student-athletes continue their success at the collegiate level and eventually as the leaders of the future once they earn their college degrees.”