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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Five members of the Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling team have been named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association National All-Academic Team. The NWCA announced the team and Penn State once again placed in the top 20 nationally in team grade point average as well.
All five Penn Staters honored were starters and/or NCAA qualifiers for head coach Cael Sanderson as the Nittany Lions roared to its seventh NCAA Championship in the last eight years, went 14-0 in duals and won yet another Big Ten Regular Season (dual meet) title with a 9-0 conference mark.
Senior Corey Keener (Schuylkill Haven, Pa.), true freshman Nick Lee (Evansville, Ind.), senior Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.), junior Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.) and sophomore Anthony Cassar (Rocky Hill, N.J.) all earned the national recognition.
Keener, in the Masters of Educational Leadership program, started all season long at 133 and earned his fourth trip to the NCAA Championships. Keener went 17-10 overall, including a 9-4 dual meet record and a 5-4 mark in Big Ten duals.
Lee, a kinesiology major, became a true freshman All-American at 141 with a fifth place finish at NCAAs. Lee went 32-7 overall this year, including an 8-1 dual meet record. He rebounded from an early upset at nationals to wrestle all the way back for fifth, posting a 6-2 mark including wins over the No. 9, 10, 16, 12 and 5 seeds.
Retherford, a finance major, earned his third straight NWCA All-Academic honor. Retherford rolled to his third straight NCAA title at 149 this year with a 5-0 run through nationals. He went 31-0 this season and ended his career having won 94-straight bouts. Retherford won his third straight Big Ten title, his second straight Hodge Trophy, was Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and third straight NCAA Most Dominant Award as well. He was a first team CoSIDA Academic All-American last season.
Nolf, a kinesiology major, earned his third straight NWCA All-Academic honor. Nolf steamrolled to his second straight NCAA title at 157 with a 5-0 performance in Cleveland this past March. Nolf posted a 26-1 overall record, with his only loss an injury forfeit in a match he was winning late in January. The Lion missed the final month of the regular season but rebounded to win the NCAA title in his third straight appearance in the NCAA Finals. Nolf was a second team CoSIDA Academic All-American last year.
Cassar, a psychology major, split time as Penn State’s 197-pound starter with eventual All-American Shakur Rasheed. Cassar posted a 16-2 overall record this season, including an 8-1 dual meet record and a 5-0 mark in Big Ten action. The Lion posted a thrilling win over then No. 1 Kollin Moore of Ohio State to spark Penn State to a dual meet victory over the Buckeyes in one of the season’s biggest dual meets.
Penn State finished 18th nationally with a 3.26884 team GPA. The Lions have placed in the top 25 in 25 of the last 28 years, including all nine of Sanderson’s years as head coach.
The 2017-18 Penn State wrestling season is sponsored by The Family Clothesline. Penn State Fans are encouraged to follow Penn State wrestling via twitter at @pennstateWREST, on Penn State Wrestling’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pennstatewrestling and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/pennstatewrest. This is PENN STATE. WRESTLING lives here.