One measure of greatness for individual wrestlers and wrestling programs is the ability to score points on the mat. However, true success is found in the individuals and teams that can add points to the scoreboard… and to their grade-point averages (GPAs).
With that in mind, Eastern Michigan University has earned the top spot in the 2015 National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) All-Academic team rankings, while 118 individual wrestlers – including half the champs crowned at the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, and 28 NCAA All-Americans – garnered spots on the 2015 NWCA All-Academic team, the NWCA announced Friday.
The EMU Eagles had the best overall grade-point average of all D1 wrestling programs during the 2014-15 school year, with a 3.382 GPA based on the GPAs of 12 wrestlers from each program, including ten who participated in that school’s NCAA tournament conference qualifying event. It was an impressive climb for the Ypsilanti-based mat program, which was ranked 30th last year. The Eagle who soared with the highest GPA was graduate student Brandon Zeerip. The 157-pounder is pursuing his Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a 3.88 GPA. (To see the top 30 programs listed in order of GPA, click here.)
Harvard, which has claimed the top spot for the past two seasons, now has the second-highest team ranking, with a 3.372 GPA. The Crimson’s top scholar-mat athlete was 197-pound senior James Fox, a Psychology major with a 3.803 GPA. American University (with a 3.358 GPA), Gardner-Webb (3.352), and Brown (3.328) also found places among the top five academic programs… while Duke (3.302), Bucknell (3.264), Stanford (3.264), Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (3.242), and Minnesota (3.207) rounded out the top 10.
Speaking of top ten… of the ten 2015 NCAA D1 champs crowned in St. Louis in March, five earned a place on this year’s NWCA All-Academic individual team: Nathan Tomasello (125-pound champ for Ohio State), Matt Brown (Penn State,174 titlist), Gabe Dean (Cornell, 184 champ), Kyven Gadson (Iowa State champ at 197) and Nick Gwiazdowski (heavyweight titlewinner, North Carolina State). Three other finalists – Brian Realbuto (Cornell, 157 pounds), Tyler Wilps (Pittsburgh, 174), and Adam Coon (Michigan, 285) – also made the individual academic team. (Click here for the complete list of individual wrestlers who earned individual All-Academic honors, arranged in alphabetical order by school.)
“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 NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. “These young men have proved that they are not only talented competitors but are leaders in the classroom as well. 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.”