What's the true measure of a successful National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics men's college wrestling program?
Beyond won-loss records, pinning percentages and other on-the-mat stats, there's the performance of wrestlers in the classroom.
The men wrestlers at Montana State University-Northern earned the highest team grade point average among NAIA schools in 2019, with a 3.362 GPA… while the matmen at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University had the most individuals earn All-American Scholar honors, the National Wrestling Coaches Association announced this week.
Top NAIA men's mat programs for team GPA
In terms of team GPA, the Lights of MSU-Northern edged out second-place Bethany College of Kansas, last year's top-ranked men's mat program, with a 3.362 GPA. Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, came in right behind the top two academic programs, with a 3.330 GPA.
Here are the top NAIA men's wrestling programs based on team GPA:
1. Montana State-Northern (3.362 GPA)
2. Bethany College (3.338 GPA)
3. Morningside College (3.330 GPA)
4. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (3.320 GPA)
5. University of the Cumberlands (3.293 GPA)
6. Concordia University, Nebraska (3.253 GPA)
7. Baker University (3.225 GPA)
8. Grand View University (3.215 GPA)
9. Indiana Institute of Technology (3.169 GPA)
10. Eastern Oregon University (3.162 GPA)
11. Menlo College (3.147 GPA)
12. Southeastern University (3.146 GPA)
13. Lindsay Wilson University (3.133 GPA)
14. University of Providence (3.096 GPA)
15. Marian University (3.073 GPA)
Individual Scholar All-Americans
In addition to naming the fifteen top men's wrestling programs in the NAIA, the NWCA also revealed the names of 54 wrestlers who scored big in the classroom in terms of grade point average. Embry-Riddle came out on top, with six members of their men's wrestling team receiving 2019 NAIA Individual Scholar All-American honors: Berit Sturgeon, Carlos Apodaca, Collin Anderson, Daniel Butler, Joshua Nira, and Tyler Hall. Grand View University, 2019 NAIA team titlewinner, had five academic honorees, while four other schools each claimed four.
The 2019 NWCA/NAIA men's academic ranking included 22 men who earned All-American honors at this year's national championships. Of these honorees, six made their way to the finals ... and four earned 2019 NAIA individual titles. (To see the entire list of individual honorees, click here.)
"NAIA institutions continue to show that they are a great place for wrestlers to not only continue competing at the collegiate level but also a terrific place for them to achieve academic excellence on their way to earning their college degrees," said Mike Moyer, NWCA Executive Director. "We want to congratulate these individuals and teams on their academic success and thank the colleges and universities for their dedication to and support of their student-athletes."
The NWCA report on the academic performance of NAIA men's wrestling programs comes on the heels of the coaches' organization revealing similar information on NCAA Division I wrestlers.