May 8, 2012
MANHEIM, Pa. -- University of Michigan fifth-year seniors Kellen Russell (High Bridge, N.J./Blair Academy) and Justin Zeerip (Fremont, Mich./Hesperia HS) were named to the 2011-12 National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic Team, the organization announced Tuesday (May 8).
It is the second national academic selection for both wrestlers, becoming just the 12th and 13th Wolverines to earn the multiple NWCA academic distinctions. Former four-time NCAA All-Americans Ryan Bertin (2002-05) and Eric Tannenbaum (2005-08) stand as Michigan's lone four-time NWCA All-Academic selections.
"The NWCA All-Academic Team and Individual Team is one of the best acknowledgements that we can give to our coaches and athletes at the end of a physically grueling season," said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. "These 87 young men have proved that they are not only talented competitors but are leaders in the classroom as well. The NWCA Board of Directors and staff look forward to watching these student-athletes continue their success at the collegiate level and eventually as the leaders of the future once they earn their college degrees."
Russell, who graduated this spring with a B.A. in physical education, was one five NCAA individual champions honored, joining Cornell's Kyle Dake, Iowa's Matthew McDonough and Penn State's Frank Molinaro and David Taylor. The Wolverine captain finished his collegiate career as a two-time NCAA champion and four-time Big Ten champion at 141 pounds and accumulated a 134-12 record. In the classroom, he was a three-time U-M Athletic Academic Achievement Award recipient and twice garnered All-Academic Big Ten honors (2009, '12).
Zeerip graduated this spring with a degree in elementary education with a focus on mathematics and social studies. A four-time NCAA qualifier, Zeerip posted a 100-68 career record at 165 and 174 pounds. He earned the U-M Athletic Academic Achievement Award in each of his four seasons in the lineup, was the three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and as a junior, garnered the prestigious Big Ten Distinguished Scholar accolade.
To qualify for individual selection, wrestlers must fit one of two criteria -- have at least a 3.2 grade-point average and either have been an NCAA qualifier or won 60 percent of his total season matches while competing in 60 percent of the team schedule, or have a 3.0 GPA and have earned NCAA All-America honors.
The Wolverines concluded the 2011-12 season with a 6-6 record, including a 4-4 mark against Big Ten competition. U-M posted an 11th-place team showing at the NCAA Championships -- the program's 11th top-15 finish in 12 seasons.
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423