The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) announced its academic honors on Tuesday and the Gophers once again collected plenty of accolades.
As a team, Minnesota led the Big Ten in the NWCA’s academic standings, finishing third among all public schools and ninth nationally. This year is the second time in three years the Gophers have been the NWCA’s highest-achieving Big Ten team.
The ninth-place finish nationally was yet another top-10 finish for Minnesota, something that has become routine over the years, but it was shy of being a medal finish by the slimmest of margins. The team’s GPA, calculated as an average of 10 starters and two additional letterwinners, was just one-tenth of a GPA point shy of placing the Gophers third in the country.
Five Gophers were recognized for their individual academic achievements: Ethan Lizak, Mitch McKee, Chris Pfarr, Michael Kroells and Brett Pfarr. Each of these five earned their honor by maintaining a GPA above a 3.2 while qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
This year’s honor is the third for Kroells and the elder Pfarr, seniors who are majoring in Aerospace Engineering, and Agricultural and Food Business Management, respectively. Lizak, McKee and the younger Pfarr all appear on the NWCA’s honor roll for the first time. Pfarr shares the same major as his brother, while Lizak studies Kinesiology and McKee, a true freshman, is undeclared.
Minnesota’s five individual honorees were tied for the second-most in the country, as were its three All-American/All-Academic dual honorees. More individual Gophers earned NWCA All-Academic for their work in the classroom this season than any previous year.
The NWCA All-Academic awards are just the latest recognition for the Gophers in what has been a banner academic year for the team in the classroom. Last month, nine Minnesota wrestlers were named Academic All-Big Ten.