Big East

Two Mountaineers Earn Academic All-District Honor

May 12, 2016

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Two West Virginia University student-athletes were named to the 2016 Academic All-District At-Large teams, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Thursday.

Junior Nathan Howells (men’s swimming) was named to the men’s first team, while sophomore Elizabeth Gratz (rifle) was named to the women’s first team for district 2.

“I’m really pleased for Elizabeth, and I’m very proud with how hard she works in the classroom,” said Jon Hammond, coach of the four-time reigning NCAA Champion rifle team. “This is a reward for her hard work, and holding a 4.0 GPA halfway through her college career is a really impressive achievement. I’m sure she will continue to excel in her academic career, and I look forward to see her win more awards for her efforts.”

“Congratulations to Nathan for being recognized for his hard work in the classroom and in the pool,” said men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach Vic Riggs. “Nathan has done a great job of prioritizing his academics and athletics. He continues to average one of our highest GPA’s on the team. This is the sixth time we’ve been recognized on the Academic All-District team in the last nine years. It’s an honor for our program to continue to have our student-athletes be recognized by CoSIDA.”

Today’s honor marks the first for Howells and the sixth award in program history for the WVU men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. A Round Rock, Texas, native, Howells has maintained a 3.90 grade point average while earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. Howells was named the Big 12 Men’s Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year, becoming the team’s third honoree since joining the Big 12 Conference in 2013.

Howells is a two-time Academic All-Big 12 Swimming and Diving First Team honoree and was named to the 2014 Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team. He also is a member of the President’s List, Dean’s List, Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll and the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

At this year’s Big 12 Championship, Howells advanced to the B Finals in the 200 butterfly (1:53.29), the 100 butterfly (50.84) and the 500 freestyle, where he swam a career-best time of 4:40.06.

This year’s honor is the first career award for Gratz, a Sigel, Illinois, native. Currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business management and sport and exercise psychology, Gratz is a two-time Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) Scholar Athlete as well as a two-time Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association (CRCA) Scholastic All-America. Gratz also was recognized as an Academic All-Big 12 At-Large honoree. Gratz has maintained a 4.0 GPA and is a member of the President’s List as well as the WVU Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll.

A member of the United States Junior National Team, Gratz helped West Virginia win its fourth straight and nation-best 18th national title. She also shot toward a WVU and NCAA record in 2016 with a 4740 aggregate score over Alaska-Fairbanks. Gratz has received back-to-back National Rifle Association (NRA) All-America First Team Air Rifle awards. Gratz also earned NRA All-America Honorable Mention Team Smallbore and landed on the CRCA All-America Honorable Mention list this season. Gratz, the 2015 GARC Rookie of the Year, has earned six All-GARC honors throughout her career at West Virginia. She finished fourth on the team with a 591.4 air rifle average and owns season averages of 579.2 in smallbore and 1170.6 in combined score.

First Team Academic All-District honorees advance to the Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.

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