LARAMIE, Wyo. - After a stellar career on the mat University of Wyoming senior wrestler Tanner Harms earned what may be his greatest achievement when he was awarded the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship on May 17. He was one of 58 recipients of the award for the winter sports season.
"Tanner (Harms) has been a great representative for our wrestling program, our athletics department and the University of Wyoming," said UW Athletics Director Tom Burman. "It is great to see a young man who has worked so hard in his sport and in pursuit of his engineering degree receive an honor like the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. We are happy to know that Tanner will be continuing his graduate work here at UW and will continue to be around as a role model for our student-athletes."
Harms is the first Wyoming wrestler to earn the honor since Alfonso Hernandez in 2013. He is also the sixth Cowboy student-athlete to receive the honor since 2000. Harms became the fourth member of that list that is an alum of the College of Engineering.
The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship was created in 1964 to promote and encourage postgraduate education by rewarding the Association's most accomplished student-athletes through their participation in NCAA championship and/or emerging sports. Athletics and academic achievements, campus involvement, community service, volunteer activities and demonstrated leadership are evaluated. An equitable approach is employed in reviewing an applicant's nomination form to provide all student-athlete nominees an opportunity to receive the postgraduate award, regardless of sport, division, gender or race. In maintaining the highest broad-based standards in the selection process, the program aims to reward those individuals whose dedication and effort are reflective of those characteristics necessary to succeed and thrive through postgraduate study.
The NCAA awards up to 174 postgraduate scholarships annually. The scholarships are awarded to student-athletes who excel academically and athletically and who are at least in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition.
"It is an honor to receive this award," Harms said. "When Alfonso Hernandez received the honor a few years ago I saw it as something I could aspire for. It's a blessing and a culmination of a lot of hard work. It has been such a great ride at the University of Wyoming and I have to thank all of the professors, coaches, staff and many others who have supported myself through the years."
Harms, a native of Greenwood Village, Colo., has been no stranger to academic success during his time at UW. As a mechanical engineering major, he earned a spot on the NWCA Individual All-Academic Team. He received the honor for the second time in his career, after being named to the team in 2014-15. Earlier this spring, Harms was named Scholar Athlete of the Year by the Big 12 Conference.
Harms was also named a finalist for The Annual Tobin award, which is based on academic excellence and achievement, service to the university, participation and leadership in the community and campus activities, and citizenship qualities and is given to UW's outstanding graduating man. To be considered for the Tobin award, students were judged on academic excellence and achievement; contributions and service to UW; participation and leadership in co-curricular activities; and demonstrated character and citizenship.
"Tanner does everything at such an elite level whether it is on the mat or in the classroom," assistant director of athletics for academic services Albert Reiser said. "He is such a motivator to the athletics community here and can always be seen in our offices bringing together the wrestling program."
A great competitor on the mat, Harms was a two-time NCAA Qualifier and finished last season with a 22-6 record helping the Pokes' to their highest finish at the NCAA Championship in 20 years. He was also the first finalist for the Cowboys to wrestle in the Big 12 Championship. He finished his career with a 63-30 record with 18 falls including two at the NCAA Championship this season.
"It has been amazing to see as the spring has unfolded the honors that Tanner has achieved," UW head coach Mark Branch said. "It shows what a great student-athlete he has been. It is special to have a guy who has really put his heart and soul into the student athlete experience."
Harms will continue his education at UW working with UW College of Engineering professor Jonathan Naughton. He will be a graduate assistant within the department and focus on continuing his education in the area of wind energy specifically in fluid mechanics. Harms has also discussed studying in the aerodynamic field.
"It has been fun being Tanner's advisor and he is always one of the top students," Naughton said. "It is not easy to devote yourself like he has and it just shows the type of devotion he has to his lifestyle as a student-athlete."
Harms plans to stay involved with the Cowboy wrestling team during the season training with the wrestlers on an occasional time basis.
"I plan to be in the room and help out the heavyweights over the next few seasons," Harms said. "I just want to help out the program that has helped me through my years here at UW."