WORCESTER, Mass. – In addition to being one of the top programs on the mat, the Johnson & Wales University wrestling team also excels in the classroom. The Wildcats earned numerous academic awards from the National Wrestling Coaches Association and New England Wrestling Association.
As a team, Johnson & Wales ranked 27th on the NWCA Scholar Team rankings.
Christopher Behen, Da'mani Burns, Adrian Gonzalez, Darius Joyce and Craig Sampson all earned an NWCA Scholar-Athlete Award. Nominees must have at least a 3.2 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) for the previous full academic year. On the competition side, wrestlers have to have a minimum winning percentage of .500.
In his final season, Behen posted a 22-11 record at 165 pounds. He had 15 pins and 37 takedowns. It's the third time in his career that Behen has earned the award.
A new edition this season, Burns earned the Most Falls Award for having the most pins this season in Division III and was in the top 10 for the Most Dominant Wrestler. At the NCAA Championships, he won the Gorriaran Award for having the most pins in the shortest amount of time. Burns won the regional title at 149 pounds and finished the year with a 32-5 record, including 24 pins which are second in school history.
Gonzalez made his second appearance at the NCAA Championships and also earned his second Scholar-Athlete Award. He's captured his second All-Region award at 165 pounds and a trip to the NCAAs by winning the third-place match at the regionals. Gonzalez wrapped up his career with 78 victories, including a 27-12 mark this year.
In his first season with the Wildcats, Joyce recorded a 22-7 mark at 149 pounds. He finished the season by winning the 149-pound title at the Futures Tournament.
Also earning the award in his first season at Johnson & Wales was Sampson. He led the team with 107 takedowns while producing a 25-12 record. He had a good showing early, taking third at the Ted Reece Invitational.
Those five were joined by Wanta Cunha and Williams Hughes on the NEWA All-Academic team.