PROVIDENCE, RI – The Johnson & Wales University wrestling team is known for success on the mat, but the Wildcats are also talented in the classroom. The Wildcats recently picked up team and individual academic awards from the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
Johnson & Wales ranked 22nd in the country as an NWCA National Division III Scholar Team with a 3.457 grade point average. The GPA is based on the ten regional starters with up to four alternates.
Hayden Brown, Darius Joyce, Tim Higginson, Gabe McDaniel, William Hughes and Cole DiRico were recognized as NWCA Scholar-Athletes. In order to be eligible, student-athletes must have at least a 3.2 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) and a minimum winning percentage of .500.
The NCAA regional champion at 133 pounds, Brown also earned First-Team All-America honors. A two-time NEWA Rookie of the Week selection, he won the title at the Ithaca and Roger Williams Invitationals. The Exeter, N.H. native posted a 37-5 record with 17 pins.
Joyce is also a dual national award winner as he was named Third-Team All-American by the NWCA. Seeded seventh at the NCAA regional, he upset the second seed in the quarterfinals then topped Wesleyan's Aaron Goldman, 8-5, to advance to the finals. The sophomore had a 25-15 mark with a second-place finish at the JWU Wildcats Open and a fourth-place showing at New Standard Invitational.
Higginson's pin of Zach Ford from Rhode Island College secured the regional title for JWU and earned him All-Region honors at 165 pounds. Injuries kept him out of the lineup for a good portion of the year, but he ended with a 10-4 record that included a fifth-place finish at the New Standard Invitational.
McDaniel made a big jump in his second year with the Wildcats, posting a 24-9 record with 47 near falls. His 73 takedowns were second on the team. He won the 141-pound championship at the Ithaca Invitational and Future Tournament while taking second at the Roger Williams Invitational.
Hughes produced an 18-9 record his sophomore season with seven pins. He won the title at the JWU Wildcats Open and was fourth at the Scotty Viera Open.
In his first season, DiRico was fifth on the team with a 30-15 record that included 17 pins that ranked third on the squad. He was fifth at the Wildcats Open at 149 pounds as well as the Scotty Viera Open to go along with a semifinal appearance at the Futures Tournament.
In addition to their NWCA honors, those six as well as Cam Altobelli, Caiden Mondore, Christian Murphy, Victor Perlleshi, Adam Quintanilla and Christian Rivas picked up All-NEWA Academic Team recognition. Student-athletes must have at least a 3.2 gpa and be a contributor to the team.