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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Three Penn State student-athletes have been named to the 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District At-Large team, recognizing the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. The trio includes one program’s first first-team all-conference player and two individual national champions and members of a team title earning squad.
Women’s ice hockey student-athlete Laura Bowman (Minnetonka, Minn.) and wrestlers Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.) and Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.) were all selected as first team Academic All-District honorees, putting each on the ballot for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors when the At-Large team is announced later this month.
Bowman, a senior with a 3.95 grade point average in biochemistry and molecular biology, is a Schreyers Honors College Scholar. She is a three-time member of the All-College Hockey America (CHA) Academic Team, a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. Bowman was a CoSIDA Academic At-Large All-District selection last year. Her athletic accomplishments this year include: Became Penn State’s first-ever All-CHA First Team honoree; netted a program-best 32 points and 18 goals in 2016-17; added 14 assists on the year; ended the season tied for 19th in the nation in goals scored; became the first member of Penn State women’s ice hockey’s 100 career point club; was the 2016-17 team captain.
Retherford, a junior, and Nolf, a sophomore are members of Cael Sanderson’s NCAA Champion wrestling team. The duo helped lead the Nittany Lion wrestlers to their sixth NCAA team title in the last seven years and second straight. Both, among five individual NCAA Champions for Penn State, return for next season.
Retherford, with a 3.72 GPA in finance, is already a two-time National Wrestling Coaches Association first team national All-Academic selection (2016, 2017) and a two-time first team Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2016, 2017). His athletic accomplishments this year include: Named the 2017 Hodge Award as the nation’s top collegiate wrestler; named the NCAA’s Most Dominant Wrestler; earned his second straight NCAA individual national title (149); became a three-time All-American; was the 2017 NCAA Championship Outstanding Wrestler; became a two-time Big Ten Champion; was the 2017 Big Ten Championship Outstanding Wrestler; earned his second first team All-Big Ten selection; was the 2017 InterMat Wrestler of the Year; went 28-0 this year with 17 pins, seven tech falls and a major; moved his career record to 95-3; and is riding a 63-match win streak into next season.
Nolf, with a 3.75 GPA in kinesiology, is already a two-time NWCA first team national All-Academic Selection (2016, 2017) and a two-time first team Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2016, 2017). His athletic accomplishments this year include: Named the 2016 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year; won the NCAA individual championship at 157; became a two-time NCAA finalist; became a two-time All-American; won the 2017 Big Ten title at 157; earned first team All-Big Ten laurels; was Big Ten Wrestler of the Week (1/10/17); went 27-0 this season with 14 pins, eight technical falls and three majors; heads into his junior year next season with a 60-2 career mark including 29 pins, 19 techs and eight majors.
Penn State student-athletes, who have captured 30 Big Ten Championships and conference-best eight NCAA titles since September 2012, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. A sampling of recent academic accomplishments includes:
- Penn State has had 195 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time, which ranks fifth among all NCAA institutions and fourth among Division I schools. Haleigh Washington, women’s volleyball, and Tyler Yazujian, football, were honored last fall (each for the second time).
- The NCAA reported that 18 Penn State teams earned perfect APR scores of 1,000 in 2015-16, up from 13 in last year's report and 10 squads in 2013-14, representing a 44 percent improvement over the past two years. A total of 22 squads (out of 29) equaled or surpassed their yearly APR score from 2014-15 and 18 teams equaled or surpassed their multi-year (four-year) APR score from the 2016 report.
- A school record 114 student-athletes were approved to graduate the first weekend of May.
- Three Penn State teams have received an NCAA Public Recognition Award for earning high scores in the most recent Academic Progress Rate (APR) compilation, including two of the Nittany Lions' most recent NCAA Championship squads. The three teams -- women's tennis, women's volleyball and wrestling -- earned multi-year APR scores in the top 10 percent nationally for their respective sport through the 2015-16 academic year (data from 2012-13 through 2015-16). The women's volleyball (2014) and wrestling (2016, 2017) programs have captured NCAA Championships during the past three years. Head coach Cael Sanderson’s wrestling team was among six teams nationwide to win an NCAA team championship and a Public Recognition Award in ’15-16.
-In November 2016, the NCAA released its annual national graduation rates study, which revealed that Penn State student-athletes earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent compared to the 84 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2006-07 through the 2009-10 academic year. The 89 percent graduation figure was just one point off Penn State's 90 percent all-time graduation record mark and one point higher than last year's figure.
The 2016 NCAA data revealed student-athletes from seven Penn State squads earned a Graduation Success Rate of 100 percent, an increase of two from last year's five teams. The seven Nittany Lion squads posting perfect graduation scores were: men's basketball, field hockey, women's golf, women's gymnastics, men's soccer, softball and women's tennis.
- During the 2016 fall semester, a school record 24 teams posted a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. A total of 498 student-athletes earned at least a 3.0 GPA, with 223 garnering a GPA of 3.50 or higher to earn Dean's List recognition.
- Penn State leads all Big Ten institutions with 5,730 Academic All-Big Ten honorees since 1991-92, its first year of competition in some Big Ten sports. Ohio State is second with 5,667 over the past 25 years. The Nittany Lions' 299 Academic All-Big Ten selections in 2015-16 were a school record. Student-athletes must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be a letterwinner for Academic All-Big Ten consideration.