Wrestlers Owen, Smart Garner NWCA Academic All-America Honors

May 7, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. - The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) released its 2003 academic honors Tuesday with the Arizona State team and two of its individuals garnering accolades. The honors are selected from nominations submitted from all Division I coaching staffs following the conclusion of the current wrestling season.

Sun Devil senior Curtis Owen (Polson, Mont.) led the way for the squad as a First Team Academic All-America selection after carrying a perfect 4.0 grade point average this year. While compiling a 27-9 record, Owen won his first Pac-10 Championship at 174 pounds this year before taking fourth place at the NCAA Championships for his first All-America honor. Owen also was named the team's Co-Top Senior along with Kellan Fluckiger (Sr., Preston, Idaho).

Also earning individual recognition was senior Rocky Smart (Pleasant Grove, Utah). Smart built a 3.51 in history and will earn his degree later this month. Battling through an injury-plagued final campaign in Tempe, Smart went 10-6 to place third at the Pac-10 Championships and qualify for his fourth NCAA meet where he fell one win shy of attaining All-American honors. Smart was a big contributor when in the lineup as he won his first two matches of the year to give the Sun Devils wins over Lock Haven and No. 4 Oklahoma.

As a team, the 2003 Pac-10 Champions accumulated a 2.89 grade point average to finish as the No. 25 team in the academic rankings. Sacred Heart's 3.412 led the nation among wrestling programs with Stanford (tied for seventh at 3.141) being the only other Pac-10 school among the Top 25 with ASU.

The academic honor for the Sun Devils caps a season in which they captured their 14th conference crown and placed fifth in the nation. Eric Larkin (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.) won his first national title at 149 while earning his fourth All-American honor and fourth Pac-10 title on the way to being named the 2003 Dan Hodge Award winner. Owen and Fluckiger (fifth) were the team's other All-Americans as six ASU grapplers won individual conference titles and eight Sun Devils advanced to the NCAA meet. For his efforts, head coach Thom Ortiz was named 2003 Pac-10 Coach of the Year after only his second year in control of the program.

NWCA Academic All-America HonorsFirst TeamCurtis Owen	First TeamRocky Smart	Honorable Mention

NWCA Top Academic Teams1. Sacred Heart 3.4122. Duquesne 3.3203. Central Michigan 3.2854. Brown 3.2705. Princeton 3.23025. Arizona State 2.890

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