National Academic Honors for Record 9 WLU Wrestlers
MANHEIM, Pa. – A record nine members of the West Liberty University wrestling team were honored as Scholar All-Americans on Tuesday when the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) released its annual NCAA Division II All-Academic Team.
Leading the way for Coach Danny Irwin’s record-setting contingent are NCAA Division II 125-pound national champion Cole Laya and Blake Miller, who were each honored for the third time in their college careers. Two-time honorees include NCAA Division II 184-pound national runner-up Connor Craig and 165-pound national qualifier Chase Morgan. Garrett Cook, Brett Goff, Ty McGeary, Jonah Smith and Kade Zadylak are the Hilltoppers’ first-time NWCA Scholar All-Americans.
The nine Scholar All-Americans are the most for West Liberty since the NWCA program debuted in 1985. The previous high had been eight WLU Scholar All-Americans following the 2007 season.
“I am super pumped about this,” said Irwin, who led West Liberty to a fourth-place finish at last month’s Nationals in St. Louis. “One of the things I emphasized when I came here two years ago was that we not only wanted to excel at the national championships, we also wanted to garner the accolades in the classroom. This really puts a cherry on top of what has been an amazing year on the hilltop.”
In order for a student-athlete to be nominated to the Division II All-Academic Team, he must have a minimum 3.40 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale, with that benchmark lowered to 3.25 for wrestlers who qualified for the 2021 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships and 3.00 for those who earned All-American status.
Here’s a quick snapshot of West Liberty’s 2021 NWCA Scholar All-Americans:
Cole Laya is a junior 125-pounder from Fairmont, W.Va. who wrestled at East Fairmont High School. He is a three-time NCAA Division II All-American, a three-time NWCA Scholar All-American and the reigning national champion at 125 pounds. Cole is majoring in Business Administration.
Blake Miller is a junior 157-pounder from Kingwood, W.Va. who wrestled at Preston County High School. A three-time NWCA Scholar All-American, Blake is majoring in Health and Physical Education.
Connor Craig is a senior 184-pounder from Cincinnati, Ohio who wrestled at Elder High School. A three-time NCAA Division II All-American, two-time NWCA Scholar All-American and the 2021 national runner-up at 184 pounds, Connor is majoring in Marketing.
Chase Morgan is a redshirt sophomore 165-pounder from Ripley, W.Va. who wrestled at Ripley High School. A two-time NWCA Scholar All-American and a 2021 National Qualifier at 165, Chase is majoring in Exercise Physiology.
Garrett Cook is a sophomore 184-pounder from Weirton, W.Va. who wrestled at Madonna High School. A first-time NWCA Scholar All-America selection, Garrett is majoring in Criminal Justice.
Brett Goff is a freshman 157-pounder from Geneva, Ohio who wrestled at Geneva High School. A first-time NWCA Scholar All-America selection, Brett is majoring in Accounting.
Ty McGeary is a redshirt freshman 174-pounder from McDonald, Pa. who wrestled at West Allegheny High School. A first-time NWCA Scholar All-America selection, Ty is majoring in Cybersecurity.
Jonah Smith is a freshman 149-pounder from Findlay, Ohio who wrestled at Findlay High School. A first-time NWCA Scholar All-America selection, Jonah is majoring in Exercise Physiology.
Kade Zadylak is a sophomore 125-pounder from Ossian, Ind. who wrestled at Norwell High School. A first-team NWCA Scholar All-America selection, Kade is majoring in Exercise Physiology.
Maryville (Mo.) University earned its fourth straight national academic championship with a 3.650 team GPA. West Liberty is one of 13 NCAA Division II schools with at least one national academic championship to its credit.