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68 wrestlers named to NWCA All-Academic team; Brown finishes #1 in team GPA

Manheim, Pa -- The National Wrestling Coaches Association announced its annual list of All-Academic Division I wrestlers for the 2005-06 season.

Click here for Div. I All-Academic selections

Eighteen of the 68 wrestlers named to the NWCA All-Academic team placed at the 2006 NCAA Division I championships in Oklahoma City.

Of the national placewinners, Ben Askren of the University of Missouri was the only NCAA champion in the group. Askren, the Tigers' first national champion in wrestling, is a Geography major with a 3.190 GPA.

Askren was also the Outstanding Wrestler of the 2006 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

"For a student-athlete to be both great on the mat and great in the classroom is remarkable," said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. "He went undefeated, was the outstanding wrestler and came in with a very solid GPA."

"His accomplishments this year are unrivaled - He's a national champion and All-American on and off the mat," said Moyer.

Three NCAA runners-up make the list with an impressive combination of grades and wrestling credentials.

Four-time All-American Steve Mocco of Oklahoma State is one of four Cowboys on the list. Mocco, an Education major, finished with a 3.045 GPA, while Jake Herbert of Northwestern had a 3.0 majoring in Communications and Michigan's Ryan Churella sports a 3.26 GPA in Sport Management & Communications.

The 67 wrestlers represent 39 of the 86 Division I wrestling programs. Three programs have four wrestlers - Oklahoma State, Illinois and Oklahoma, while Central Michigan, Northwestern, Slippery Rock and Michigan have three All-Academic selections apiece.

In all, 18 All-Americans were recognized along with 39 additional NCAA qualifiers.

To qualify for selection, wrestlers must A) have a 3.2 GPA and been an NCAA qualifier or won 60 percent of his total schedule and must have competed in 60 percent of team schedule or B) have a 3.0 and earned NCAA All-American honors.

Thirteen wrestlers carried GPA's over a 3.8 with American University's Matt Morkel and Oklahoma's Justin Dyer each achieving impressive 4.0 averages.

"Any student, whether it be an athlete or not, should be commended for achieving a 4.0 grade point average," said Moyer. "Matt Morkel and Justin Dyer should be commended not only for their stellar GPA, but applauded for earning such high marks while going through the rigors of collegiate wrestling."

Other wrestlers achieving over a 3.8 were: Tyler McCormick (Missouri, 3.95), Bryce Leonhardt (Wyoming, 3.936), Mark Himes (Duquesne, 3.92), Tommy Cunningham (VMI, 3.902), Mark DiSalvo (Central Michigan, 3.90), Joel Caruso (George Mason, 3.90), James Woodall (Penn State, 3.882), Dustin Tillman (Columbia, 3.845), Max Dean (Indiana, 3.820) and Eric Tannenbaum (Michigan, 3.80).

Nine wrestlers were in graduate-level courses, including Morkel and Dyer and both All-Academic selections from The Citadel - Sean Markey and Mark Thompson.

Brown comes away with the top team GPA for the second consecutive year. Last year, Dave Amato's Bears won the award with a 3.2762. This year, Brown improved its standing, finishing with a team GPA of 3.3515, good enough to edge second-place Duke, which came in at 3.327.

Princeton, Duquesne and Northwestern rounded out the top five.

Oklahoma and Michigan were the only schools to finish in the Top 10 at the NCAA championships and the NWCA All-Academic standings.

Team rankings are selected by taking the average GPA of each team's starting ten wrestlers along with two backups that wrestled in at least one varsity match.

Individually, the average GPA of this year's field was 3.512, up from last year's average of 3.416. The average team GPA of the Top 30 was 2.988, last year's team average was 3.037.

"The fact there's been a rise in the individual GPA numbers of the All-Academic team shows that there's not only greater competition on the mat, but in the classroom as well," said NWCA President Ron Beaschler. "We're very pleased that the NWCA can recognize these wrestlers. They exemplify the term 'student-athlete'."

The National Wrestling Coaches Association, established in 1928, is a professional organization dedicated to serve and provide leadership for the advancement of all levels of the sport of wrestling with primary emphasis on scholastic and collegiate programs. The membership embraces all people interested in amateur wrestling.

The NWCA, through its organizational structure, promotes communication, recognizes achievement, recommends rules and regulations, sponsors events, and serves as an educational and informational source. Additionally, the NWCA strives to foster the sportsmanship and integrity that are the cornerstones of athletic competition.
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