National Collegiate Rugby Names Four Wheeling Players All-Americans

National Collegiate Rugby Names Four Wheeling Players Scholastic All-Americans

Wheeling, W.Va. (July 27) - Four members of Wheeling University's rugby team were selected Scholastic All-Americans by National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) this year.

Colton Boyle, Elijah Byrd and Brian Gannon, who recently graduated, along with rising sophomore Jose Oltra-Ferrer, have been recognized by NCR for their achievements in the classroom. They are four of 113 rugby players nationwide to receive this prestigious honor from National Collegiate Rugby.

To qualify for NCR's Scholastic All-American program, student-athletes must maintain 3.5 cumulative GPA during the Fall and Spring semesters, as well as be an active member of a team's roster at the NCR member school. Head Coach Michael Geibel nominated his four players for the honor, with the executive board from National Collegiate Rugby making the final selections.

"I'm extremely proud of these young men for earning Scholastic All-American honors. It has been an especially difficult year with online classes and distance learning, but I'm proud of them for continuing to stay on top of their academics," Geibel said.

Boyle, a loose forward from Kalispell, Montana, graduated in May with a Bachelor's Degree in Education. In the classroom, Boyle carried a 3.71 GPA and was named to the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Dean's List. He received the Wheeling University Medal at Commencement for having the second highest four-year grade point average in the Bachelor of Arts.

A graduate of Wheeling's Engineering Science program, Byrd is a native of Easley, South Carolina. He was a forward on the team and was named to the University's Dean's List this past Spring having earned a 3.5 GPA.

"Elijah is a great success story. He was a non-traditional student like I was, and he had to work full-time between semesters and even during school to pay for his education. According to the National Science Foundation, only four percent of engineering students are African-American, and we're very proud of Elijah not just graduating with a degree in engineering, but doing so at such a high level by earning this Scholastic All-American honor," Geibel added.

Gannon, a center from Oak Lawn, Illinois, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in May. He carried a 3.58 GPA and was a member of the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Dean's List. He was given the St. Sebastian Award from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. The award honors student-athletes who exhibit sportsmanship, teamwork, academic achievement and a high degree of respect for school, classmates, teammates, opponents, parish and community.

A native of Valencia, Spain, Oltra-Ferrer, a flanker on the team, is a Business major at Wheeling University. He compiled a 3.84 GPA and was named to the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Dean's List. Geibel said Oltra-Ferrer took all of his first semester classes online from his home in Spain and "finished with the highest freshman GPA on the team."

Wheeling University Director of Athletics Carrie Hanna said, "I am extremely proud of Colten, Elijah, Brian and Jose for being named to National Collegiate Rugby's inaugural Scholastic All-American program. These young men are exceptional student-athletes, who embody Wheeling University's mission of performing well both on the field and in the classroom."

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