The 2020 edition of the MWCA All-State Academic Wrestling Team is comprised of 28 student-athletes with a combined average GPA of 3.72. They have amassed over 4000 wins while maintaining a nearly 81% winning percentage. The MWCA gives this award to the state’s best wrestlers who also excel in the classroom. “We are looking to recognize the best student-athletes Minnesota has to offer in each weight class,” commented Joe Puncochar, MWCA All-State Academic Chairperson, “These students certainly represent what it means to be student-athletes, as they are successful in both the classroom and on the mat.
On this year’s team, three student-athletes carry a cumulative GPA of 3.98 or higher: Brett Willaby of Windom/Mountain Lake, Bram Fitzsimonds of Waconia, and the overall GPA leader with a 4.0, Lue Yang from St. Paul Johnson. This group is more balanced than in past years with 11 juniors and 17 seniors. This team’s youth has not stopped them from being successful in wrestling. They have already earned a total of 14 state championships. This total is up from six state championships on last year’s team.
This year’s state champions include: Willaby, Jaxson Rohman of Fairmont/Martin County West, Will Magaard of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunberg, Tim Stapleton of Waconia, Gabe Nagel of Little Falls, Tyson Meyer of Minnewaska Area, and Daniel Striggow of Orono. Derrick Cardinal of Forest Lake and Craig Orlando of Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie each are two-time state champions. Leading the pack is Patrick Kennedy of Kasson-Mantorville with three state championships to his credit.
- Cumulative GPA – example: 3.95 x 2 = 790 points
- Overall matches wrestled – wins and losses – 1 point per match
- Winning percentage – 77% = 77 points
- State Tournament Participation – 25 points per year
- State Tournament Placement – 1st (50 points), 2nd (40), 3rd (35), 4th (25), 5th (20) and 6th (10)
Class AAA led the way with 12 honorees, while Class A earned 9 members and AA was represented with 7 members. It is no wonder that Fairmont/Martin County West is a successful program when they are led by 3 members of the MWCA Individual All-State Academic Team. Waconia and Shakopee each had two members selected to the team. Members who have earned this award two years in a row are: Willaby, Kennedy, Orlando, Ben Lunn of Shakopee, and Canon Swanson of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.
The members of this year’s team, while not only successful wrestlers, have also earned the reputation of being great students. The dedication it takes to be successful in school and in athletics is a trait that not everyone possesses. Hard work, persistence, sound decision making and grit are only some of the characteristics that go into success. These athletes undoubtedly possess the abilities to be successful long after their wrestling careers are done.
The 28 honorees will be awarded plaques at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul during the State Tournament.
2020 Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association (MWCA) All-State Academic Team
Wt. Class – Wrestler, School
106 – Lue Yang, St. Paul Johnson
106 – Eric Carrasco, Minneota
113 – Blake West, Shakopee
113 – Derek Steele, Sibley East
120 – Lucas Jagodzinske, Fairmont/MCW
120 – John Babineau, Andover
126 – Jaxson Rohman, Fairmont/MCW
126 – Derrick Cardinal, Forest Lake
132 – Ben Lunn, Shakopee
132 – Ryan Scherber, Buffalo
138 – Brett Willaby, Windom/Mt. Lake
138 – Drew Woodley, Northfield
145 – Canon Swanson, Belgrade-Brooten Elrosa
145 – Will Magaard, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg
152 – Grant Budden, Pipestone Area
152 – Payton Anderson, Fairmont/MCW
160 – Tim Stapleton, Waconia
160 – Kaden Nelson, Owatonna
170 – Gabe Nagel, Little Falls
170 – Tyson Meyer, Minnewaska Area
182 – Patrick Kennedy, Kasson-Mantorville
182 – Brock Rinehart, Woodbury
195 – Bram Fitzsimonds, Waconia
195 – Wyatt Lidberg, St. Michael-Albertville
195 – Kolin Baier, Mankato East
220 – Daniel Striggow, Orono
220 – Edward Hajas, Delano
Hwt – Craig Orlando, Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie
Hwt – Daniel Erlandson, Breckenridge