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MU's Morganne Firmstone & RMU's Nolan Nearhoof
MU's Morganne Firmstone & RMU's Nolan Nearhoof

Northeast Conference Announces 2011 Fall Scholar-Athletes

2/14/2012

Click Here For NEC Fall Academic Honor Roll (PDF)
Click Here For NEC Fall Commissioner's Honor Roll (PDF)
Click Here For Scholar-Athlete Release (PDF)


Somerset, NJ -- Two student-athletes from Monmouth and Robert Morris, along with one each from Central Connecticut State, LIU Brooklyn, Sacred Heart and Wagner comprise the 2011 Fall Scholar-Athlete award winners for the Northeast Conference (NEC). The outstanding group of student-athletes are led by Robert Morris junior football player Nolan Nearhoof (Gibsonia, PA/Mars Area), a two-time Capital One Academic All-American, and Monmouth field hockey player Morganne Firmstone (Honesdale, PA/Honesdale), both repeat award winners.

Along with the scholar-athletes, the NEC also announced its fall Academic Honor Roll, consisting of 849 student-athletes, a two percent increase from the fall of 2011. There were also 215 student-athletes named to the Commissioner’s Honor Roll, a staggering 22 percent increase of those student-athletes with a 3.75 or better grade point average. All scholar-athlete award winners must have earned a minimum of 60 semester hours, maintained a minimum cumulative grade-point-average of 3.20 and participated with distinction as a member of a varsity team.

Central Connecticut State senior Sam Alexander (Waterford, CT/Waterford) becomes the second straight Blue Devil to claim the men’s cross country scholar-athlete award, joining former teammate Ry Sanderson. Alexander weathered harsh conditions to cross the tape first and earn the Outstanding Performer award at the 2011 NEC Cross Country Championships, helping lead CCSU to its third consecutive team title. His time of 25:59 was six seconds better than teammate Craig Hunt and marked the third top-five finish in his career. Alexander, a three-time All-NEC honoree, finished second at the 2011 meet and fourth at the 2010 event. This past season, the Waterford, CT native earned NEC Cross Country Athlete of the Week honors after he finished third at the New England Championships. He also took third at the Ted Owen Invitational and posted a ninth place finish at the IC4A Championships. Alexander, a Geography major, maintains a 3.52 grade point average.
Monmouth senior Jennifer Nelson (Barnegat, NJ/Barnegat) is the NEC scholar-athlete honoree in women’s cross country. Competing on her home course in Holmdel, NJ, Nelson posted the second top-five finish of her career at the 2011 NEC Women’s Cross Country Championships. She clocked in at 18:53 to place third among the 102 entrants, a year after taking fifth at the 2010 NEC meet. Nelson wrapped her season in style with a 40th place finish at NCAA Regionals, the best showing of any NEC runner in the race and the best finish in school history. The two-time All-NEC and All-East competitor also broke the school record at the Holmdel Park course this past season and was named NEC Athlete of the Week in early September. Nelson majors in Biology and carries a 3.73 grade point average.
Monmouth graduate student midfielder Morganne Firmstone (Honesdale, PA/Honesdale) makes it back-to-back NEC Scholar-Athlete awards in field hockey. Firmstone ended her career as a three-time All-NEC selection after she was chosen to the second team this past fall. She helped guide the Hawks to their third consecutive NEC title game and a 15-win season. A strong defensive presence for Monmouth, Firmstone took only 13 shots on the season, but scored four goals, two of which were game-winners, and dished for six assists. She leaves as the program’s all-time assist leader with 16 helpers. Firmstone earned her degree in Communications and finished with a 3.96 undergraduate grade point average. Now in a Public Policy graduate program, she ended the fall semester with a 3.66 GPA.
Robert Morris junior defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof (Gibsonia, PA/Mars Area) repeats as the NEC Scholar-Athlete award winner in football. One of the NEC’s most decorated student-athletes, Nearhoof was named to the 2011 Capital One Academic All-America second team this past December, his second consecutive honor. He joined former RMU defensive lineman Ray Gensler (2003-06) as the only players in school history to be named an Academic All-American on multiple occasions. Nearhoof was tabbed to the All-NEC first team for the second year in a row after finishing fourth on the Colonials with 60 tackles, including 24 solo stops. He also ranked fourth in the NEC in sacks (7.5) and sixth in tackles-for-loss (12.5), both of which were team-leading figures. The Gibsonia, PA product is the program’s active leader in career tackles (137), and with 16 career sacks, he is just four shy of overtaking Gensler for the school record. Nearhoof majors in Biology and has posted a 3.84 grade point average.
LIU Brooklyn senior forward Steve Jakubowski (West Deptford, NJ/West Deptford) collects men’s soccer Scholar-Athlete honors. Jakubowski was named to the NSCAA Academic All-America third team and was a Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree. He also earned NSCAA All-North Atlantic third team honors, and was named an All-NEC performer for the second straight year with his selection to the second team. Jakubowski ended the 2011 season with four goals and three assists, and closed his career with 20 goals, making him one of the top-thirty goal scorers in LIU history. Selected to the exclusive “Who’s Who Among Students” honors program, Jakubowski was also part of an LIU team that earned the NEC Sportsmanship Award in a vote of its peers at year’s end. Hailing from West Deptford, NJ, Jakubowski carries a 3.74 grade point average and majors in Finance/Management.
Sacred Heart senior forward Samantha Kee (Haskell, NJ/Lakeland Regional) and Wagner junior forward Julie Vigliotti (Staten Island, NY/Notre Dame Academy) share the women’s soccer NEC Scholar-Athlete award. 

Kee helped lead the Pioneers back to the NEC Tournament after a five-year absence as the Pioneers matched a school Division I record with 10 victories. She paced the Pioneers with six goals - including three game-winners - and 12 points on the year. Kee also ranked sixth in the NEC in goals per game and was named NEC Player of the Week on September 26 after scoring twice in a league win over Quinnipiac. Named to the Capital One Academic All-District first team, the Haskell, NJ product maintains a perfect 4.0 grade point average majoring in Biological Sciences. 

Vigliotti became the first Wagner player in six years to be voted to an All-Conference team, earning second team plaudits. She paced Wagner in goals (six), assists (four) and points (16), and recorded two game-winning tallies for the Seahawks, who set a new school record with nine victories. She ranked in the NEC top-10 in all three categories. With a double major in Sociology and Accounting, Vigliotti carries a 3.91 grade point average.


In what has become somewhat of a tradition for Robert Morris, senior middle blocker Hannah Veith (Columbus, OH/Worthington) earns Scholar-Athlete accolades in women’s volleyball. Former teammates Amanda Graham (2009, 2010) and Alaina Gibson (2008) were also honored with the award, making it a four-year run for the Colonials. Veith collected her second consecutive All-NEC first team honor this past fall after she led the league and ranked 20th nationally in hitting percentage (.375). The two-time NEC Player of the Week became the first student-athlete in league history to earn National Player of the Week honors from CVU.com after hitting a cumulative .596 and posting 22 blocks over three matches in late September. Veith wrapped her career second all-time in hitting percentage at RMU (.354) and became just the third Colonial to surpass both 1,000 kills and 400 blocks. She ranked among the NEC top-three in hitting percentage in all four of her collegiate seasons and was chosen to the NEC All-Tournament team on two occasions. Veith, a Columbus, OH native, was also named a national semifinalist for the 2011 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. She is a Management major who has compiled a 3.70 grade point average.

2011 Northeast Conference Fall Scholar-Athletes

Sport               Name                School  Cl  GPA      Major
Men’s XC            Sam Alexander       CCSU    Sr  3.52     Geography
Women’s XC          Jennifer Nelson     MU      Sr  3.73     Biology
Field Hockey        Morganne Firmstone  MU      Gr  3.96 (u) Communications
                                                   
3.66 (g)
Football            Nolan Nearhoof      RMU     Jr  3.84     Biology
Men’s Soccer        Steve Jakubowski    LIU     Sr  3.74     Finance/Management
Women’s Soccer      Samantha Kee        SHU     Sr  4.00     Biological Sciences
                   
Julie Vigliotti     WC      Jr  3.91     Sociology/Accounting
Women’s Volleyball  Hannah Veith        RMU     Sr  3.70     Management

About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 31st year, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 12 institutions of higher learning located throughout six states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to four of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Pittsburgh (#23), Baltimore (#27), and Hartford/New Haven (#30). Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 23 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic or play-in access to 14 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Central Connecticut State, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU Brooklyn, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis (NY), Saint Francis (PA) and Wagner. Bryant will become the NEC’s 12th member upon completion of the NCAA Division I reclassification process in 2012. For more information on the NEC, visit www.northeastconference.org.