May 22, 2013
MANHEIM, Pa. -
For just the ninth time in program history, the University of Wyoming wrestling team was named as one of 30 NWCA Division I All-Academic Teams in the nation.
The Cowboys join 29 other teams in the nation to be honored this season by the National Wrestling Coaches Association for team academics, announced Monday by the organization.
The Pokes finished 25th in the nation in team GPA with a cumulative 3.034 mark. Harvard University led the way with a 3.418 team GPA. The Cowboys were first honored in 1992, and have been named to the list eight times since then. Prior to 2013, the last UW team honor came in 2011.
The team GPA was determined using a system that includes 12 student-athletes from each program. A total of 10 of these came from the wrestlers that were entries in the NCAA tournament conference qualifier. If teams had less than 10 entries for their respective qualifier, they were allowed to fill those spots with wrestlers that competed in at least one varsity dual during the season.
"For the most part, we don't have to drive their competitiveness on the mat, so we try to link it in - your success in wrestling is going to depend on your success in the classroom. It's a step in the right direction," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said. "We've really tried to drive that point home with these guys, and they are starting to believe how academics can be beneficial. There's a correlation there that I believe can't be denied. Tying those things together will drive those guys to really push themselves in the classroom. There's so much room for improvement and we can continue to do better."
Senior Alfonso Hernandez 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 2011-12. He graduated with his undergraduate degree in kinesiology and health promotion in May 2013. Earlier this spring, Hernandez was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
Hernandez is just the third Cowboy in team history to be honored by the NWCA for academics and to earn All-America accolades on the mat, joining former UW wrestlers Joe LeBlanc (2009-12) and Brandon Alderman (1995-97). Including Hernandez, there have been 16 Cowboys to stake a claim on the NWCA All-Academic Team.
"It's awesome for the University of Wyoming and for the Wyoming Wrestling program to have a standout student-athlete like Fonz to represent us," Branch said. "He's done that so well over the years. He has provided inspiration for our younger kids to look up to. We're looking for the complete student-athlete, and he definitely was that for us."
On this year's Individual All-Academic Team there were 82 total student-athletes, four NCAA Champions, four NCAA runner-ups, 21 All-Americans and 72 NCAA qualifiers.
To qualify for the NWCA All-Academic team, wrestlers must have at least a 3.2 cumulative GPA, been an NCAA qualifier or won 60 percent of his total schedule and must have competed in at least 60 percent of said schedule. Wrestlers can also earn a spot on the team if they have a 3.0 cumulative GPA and been an NCAA All-American.