Whether coaches, wrestlers, alums, boosters or fans, those who love Gopher Wrestling are justifiably proud of many of the program’s accomplishments.
Whether it’s the three national titles, the 12 Big Ten titles, the 2001 team’s unprecedented 10 All-Americans or the consistent development of national and international champions, the Gophers have achieved a very high level on the mat.
The program has also been known as one where wrestlers take the work ethic they’ve developed in the wrestling room and apply it in the classroom and in the community. The Gophers have regularly been one of the most-decorated wrestling programs when it comes to academic honors, both in the Big Ten and nationally. The program also has a well-earned reputation as service-oriented, often logging a significant number of community service hours each year.
With that history, the standards for Gopher Wrestling are already high. The young men on this year’s team did something extraordinary when they took one of those standards – the academic standard – and raised it to unprecedented heights.
A common measure of academic success throughout the country is grade point average. This past spring, the Gopher set a new program record by turning in a team GPA of 3.17 for the spring semester, bumping up from a strong 3.0 showing in the fall. At the end of the school year, the Gophers held a collective, cumulative GPA of 3.09, the highest mark in the program’s history. In total, more than 20 Gopher wrestlers are 3.0-or-better students.
That GPA helped the Gophers earned recognition from the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) as the Big Ten’s top academic program. While leading any conference in academics is certainly worth celebrating, it’s extraordinary to do so in the Big Ten, the premier academic conference in the country outside the Ivy League.
In addition to the team honor, the NWCA recognized five Gophers – Ethan Lizak, Mitch McKee, Chris Pfarr, Brett Pfarr and Michael Kroells – as All-Academic. The five honors were the most in a single-year in the history of Gopher Wrestling.
Continuing with individual awards, nine Gophers were named Academic All-Big Ten: James Berg, Carson Brolsma, Rylee Streifel, Gannon Volk, Nick Wanzek, Kroells, Lizak and the Pfarr brothers. Minnesota had not had that many all-conference academic performers since 2014.
Lastly, Kroells and Brett Pfarr were each named Academic All-Americans for the second consecutive year. Both finished their careers as multiple-time All-Americans on the mat and in the classroom.
No matter what time of year it is, nor what type of Gopher Wrestling news you’re looking for (competition, classroom, community), GopherSports.com is your home for Gopher Wrestling news. Be sure to follow Gopher Wrestling on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates.