Wheeling, W.Va. – The first day of Fall camps kicked off on Monday with a majority of Wheeling’s Fall sports athletes beginning their training for the upcoming 2022-23 season. The Wheeling University Rugby team got a big announcement for the first day of camp, when they found out that three of their players had been selected as National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) Scholastic All-Americans. Joseph Iye, Alex Thomas, and Jose Oltra all earned the honor after displaying a commitment to their craft both on and off the pitch.
In order to qualify as an NCR Scholastic All-American, a player must have a cumulative 3.5 GPA for the 2021-2022 academic year, one of the highest GPA requirements in athletics. They must also be rostered for either 50% of their team’s Fall A-Side matches or 50% of their team’s A-side Spring 7’s tournament. Overall, 373 men were honored across 140 institutions at all levels of collegiate rugby. They were also one of five teams from the newly formed Big Rivers Rugby Conference (BRRC) to have at least one athlete honored and tied with conference foes Thomas More and Adrian College with three athletes honored.
The Cardinals had the most successful season in program history in 2021-22, combining to go 34-8-1 and set the new single-season program win record. In the Fall season, they lost just two games and finished 6-2-1 through their nine games. They qualified for the NCR Rhino Rugby Bowl, where they faced off against new conference foe Iowa Central Community College. It was a hard-fought game, but the Cardinals pulled off a 29-24 victory for the team’s first National Championship award. Then, they kept the success going in the spring season, winning four of the six tournaments they went to and finishing the year as the 6th best team in the nation.
All three players selected played a big role in the team’s success and had success in the classroom as well. Joseph Iye was one of the team’s main conversion kickers throughout the season and was reliable after every try. Oltra and Thomas both were strong Flanker’s for the Cardinals throughout the season. They helped get the ball downfield to their backs and made sure the offense continued to run smoothly game in and game out. Their dedication to the classroom helps to uphold the university’s mission of life, leadership, and service with and among others.
Wheeling University Head Rugby Coach Mike Geibel was proud of all three players and their efforts both on the field and in the classroom. He highlighted their hard work and perseverance to become well-rounded student-athletes.
“We’re very proud to have three players selected as (NCR) Scholastic All-Americans,” said Geibel. “All three of them were very important parts to our success on the field, and to also be able to lead their peers in the classroom is a testament to their dedication and perseverance. Being a student-athlete is not easy, it takes a lot of time and effort to be successful on both sides of things, so this is a huge accomplishment for these players, and we want to congratulate them for their hard work.”
The Wheeling University Rugby team is now in their fall classes and will be preparing for their 2022 15’s season opener on Saturday, September 3rd, when they travel to Charolette, North Carolina to take on Queens University of Charolette at 1 PM.