May 8, 2012
A.J. Kissel led the way, becoming the first four-time NWCA All-Academic individual honoree in Purdue history.
The NWCA All-Academic Awards started in 1991, and this is the second time in school history and the second time in the last three seasons that the Boilermakers have earned a spot on the national top-30 list. Finishing 25th in 2010 with a 2.94 GPA, the Boilermakers got back in the rankings this season with approximately a 3.0 team GPA this season. Big Ten rival Nebraska claimed the top spot in the nation, setting an NWCA record with a team mark of 3.46, while the conference represented six spots on the list in 2012. For teams to be eligible for consideration, the team GPA is comprised of 12 student athletes, including the 10 wrestlers that were the entries in the NCAA tournament conference qualifier. If teams had less than 10 entries for their respective qualifier, they may fill those spots with wrestlers that competed in at least one varsity dual during the season.
"Being a Big Ten student-athlete is just as much about being a student as it is about being an athlete," said Boilermaker head coach Scott Hinkel. "We set high team goals in all aspects of life, and to see us getting it done in the classroom makes me very happy as a coach and a Boilermaker."
Heading into the season as one of just two wrestlers in school history to earn NWCA All-Academic honors, Kissel became the first Boilermaker to ever become a four-timer. A landscape horticulture and design major, Kissel was a four-time NCAA Championship qualifier and four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. He finished his career this season tied for the career falls record at Purdue with Hinkel, both sticking 47 opponents in their respective careers. Kissel owns the top-two single-season pin marks in school history, scoring 19 falls in 2008 and 17 in 2009.
Joining Kissel on this year's All-Academic team is sophomore Camden Eppert, who earned national honors for the second straight season. An aviation management major, Eppert is one of 10 wrestlers in Purdue history to earn an NWCA All-Academic award and one of five to take home at least two awards in his career. He has advanced to the NCAA Championships in each of his first two seasons at 125 pounds, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors in each.
"I'm extremely proud of A.J. and Camden," said Hinkel. "These two show an outstanding level of commitment in all walks of life and have many successful things ahead of them. A.J. got it done for us for four years, excelling on the mat and in the classroom, while Camden still has great things ahead of them. I hope more guys on our team see this and strive for it in years to come."
The NWCA honored 87 individuals this season, including 27 from the Big Ten Conference. The list included five NCAA Champions, three NCAA Runner-Ups, 23 All-Americans and 77 NCAA Qualifiers, and was headlined by Northern Illinois' Brad Dieckhaus' 4.0 GPA. American University and Nebraska tied for the most individuals on the team with five individuals a piece while Lehigh, Penn State and Virginia all had four individuals make the team.