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UVU wrestling: Wolverines recognized for academic success by NWCA

By James Warnick

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, May 7 2014 4:42 p.m. MDT

Utah Valley senior Avery Garner wrestles an opponent from the University of Missouri. He was named to the NWCA Individual All-Academic Team for the second straight season.

Mike Smith, MatShots

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The National Wrestling Coaches Association announced its annual Division I All-Academic Top 30 Teams, as well as its Individual All-Academic Wrestling Team, for the 2013-14 season and Utah Valley University's wrestling squad recorded the 21st best team GPA in the country, with a 3.09 clip.

Senior 141-pounder Avery Garner was also recognized, as he was the lone Wolverine named to the NWCA Individual All-Academic Team. The 2014 NCAA qualifier and Western Wrestling Conference champion received the academic accolade for the second time in his career as he also was named to the squad last season. Garner, who holds a 3.36 GPA, will receive his bachelor's degree from UVU this summer in exercise science and outdoor recreation.

The team recognition marks the sixth consecutive year Utah Valley has been named a NWCA All-Academic Top 30 Team. Besides finding themselves ranked 16th last season with the same team GPA of 3.09, the Wolverines have also finished fourth in 2011-12 with a 3.27 team GPA, sixth in 2008-09 (3.16 GPA), and ninth in 2009-10 (3.18 GPA) and 2010-11 (3.13 GPA).

The individual All-Academic team is highlighted by three NCAA champions this season — two-time champs David Taylor of Penn State and Chris Perry of Oklahoma State, and 285-pound champion Nick Gwiazdowski of N.C. State. Four NCAA finalists were also honored with Oklahoma State's Tyler Caldwell and Josh Kindig, Maryland's Jimmy Sheptock and Oklahoma's Andrew Howe making the All-Academic team.

For the second straight year, Harvard University is honored as the nation's top academic wrestling program. Harvard, coached by Jay Weiss, checked in with a 3.36 GPA to claim top honors, while Old Dominion University checked in with its highest All-Academic finish in school history, ranking second with a 3.32 GPA. Individually, Harvard and ODU had just one wrestler apiece on the All-Academic team as Harvard's James Fox earned a 3.75 GPA. Tristan Warner, the NCAA Elite 89 Award winner, had a 3.97 GPA for ODU.

Gardner-Webb improved from 29th last season to a program-best third place finish with a 3.31 GPA. Freshman 165-pound NCAA qualifier Austin Trott was the Bulldogs' top individual with a 3.28 GPA.

Rounding out the top 10 teams: Appalachian State (3.31), Brown (3.31), Duke (3.30), Bucknell (3.3), Stanford (3.23), American (3.21) and Penn State (3.18).

Oklahoma had an impressive six wrestlers on the All-Academic team, including three graduate students — Kendric Maple, Nick Lester and Jarrod Patterson — with 4.0 grade-point averages. Joining that trio are Travis Rutt, Andrew Howe and Clark Glass.

Rival Oklahoma State put five on the All-Academic team. Joining Perry, Caldwell and Kindig were NCAA qualifiers Anthony Collica and Nolan Boyd.

The Citadel was the only other program with five wrestlers on the All-Academic Team. Coach Rob Hjerling's team had Matthew Frisch, Aaron Hansen, Joaquin Martinez, Jack Duane and Marshall Haas represented.

Four-time defending NCAA team champions Penn State had four representatives on the All-Academic team with all four finishing as All-Americans at the 2014 NCAA Division I Championships. Taylor, Nico Megaludis, James English and Matt Brown were honored with Taylor, Megaludis and Brown named repeat selections from last year.

In all, 33 All-Americans from the 2014 NCAA Division I championships are on the team and 77 total NCAA Division I qualifiers.

Twenty-one different NCAA Division I institutions had multiple selections named All-Academic for this season.

"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," NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer said. "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."

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.

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