Elizabeth Forward-grad, W&J grappler lands academic honor after All-American season
Washington & Jefferson College junior wrestler Josh Etzel continues to make school history on the mat while setting a solid future for himself in the classroom.
For the second consecutive season, the Elizabeth Forward High School graduate has been selected as a Division III Scholar All-American by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
Etzel helped the W&J wrestlers to the 17th-best team grade-point average in NCAA Division III with a combined 3.27 team cumulative grade-point average. The Presidents have landed among the top 25 academic wrestling programs in each of head coach Tommy Prairie's first two seasons.
Etzel owns a 3.805 GPA as a biochemistry major. He minors in pre-health and is vice president of Phi Psi. Etzel has earned President's Athletic Conference (PAC) Academic Honor Roll laurels twice during his career and is a four-time conference wrestler of the week award winner.
Washington & Jefferson has produced at least one NWCA scholar in each of the last four seasons. Ten W&J wrestlers throughout history have been honored, with Etzel becoming just the second two-time winner. Jayson Hobbs '00 earned the distinction in 1999 and 2000.
On the mats this past season, he placed sixth in the 157-pound bracket at the 2013 NCAA Division III Championships at the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Ice Arena.
Etzel became the Presidents' first wrestling All-American since Ringgold High School's Kevin DeJuliis took seventh place in the 133-pound bracket of the 2002 NCAA Championships. The top eight finishers in each weight class receive All-America laurels.
His sixth-place finish is the best by a Washington & Jefferson College wrestler Dave Krivus placed sixth in the 150-pound bracket in 1983.
Only Krivus' second-place finish at 142 pounds in 1981 and Bob Daschbach's fifth-place showing at 118 pounds in 1974 topped Etzel's final placement in W&J's wrestling history. Etzel is just the sixth wrestler in school history to earn NCAA All-America laurels.
A two-time national qualifier and two-time Presidents' Athletic Conference champion, Etzel finished the national tournament with a 3-3 record and a 37-7 overall mark for the season. His 37 victories set a school record for single-season wins, topping the 36 earned by DeJuliis (2003) and Taylor Potts in 2012.
A transfer from Lake Erie (Painesville, Ohio) College, Etzel earned a second consecutive trip to the Nationals by finishing third after winning four of five matches at the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional in Ada, Ohio.
At the 2012 Nationals he suffered two defeats at the 141-pound bracket. Etzel finished his sophomore season with a 24-5 overall record and won the 141-pound Midwest Regional Championship.
His conference title at 157 pounds this season coupled with his 141-pound crown in 2012 makes him one of just 24 Presidents to win two or more PAC wrestling titles.
Etzel, who owns a 68-13 overall record (.840) as a President, ranks 14th in the school's career victory and is 15 victories away from reaching fourth place. He is one of just 20 wrestlers in W&J history to earn at least 60 victories in a career. Etzel has a chance to become only the fourth wrestler in school history to win 100 matches. The three century club Presidents include DeJuliis (117), Matt Smith (113), and Wes Koteski (108).
During the 2011-12 academic year, Etzel earned his first NWCA Scholar All-American honor.
This past winter, Etzel was selected as the PAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Male Scholar-Athlete of the Month for February.
Each month, the SAAC at PAC member institutions nominate student-athletes for Scholar-Athlete of the Month consideration based on academic and athletic accomplishments. Honorees must be a varsity member in their respective sport(s) and in their junior or senior year. Scholar-Athletes of the Month must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and be actively involved within his or her campus community.
Bruce Wald is a freelance writer.