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Somerset, NJ --
Robert Morris women’s volleyball player Una Japundza (Rovinj, Croatia/Zvane Crnja)
, Monmouth women’s basketball player Carly Thibault (East Lyme, CT/East Lyme)
and Mount St. Mary’s baseball player Mark Quaranta (Virginia Beach, VA/Loyola Blakefield)
all excelled academically and athletically throughout their distinguished careers, and the recent graduates can now add one more accolade to an impressive list of accomplishments with their selection as the 2012-13 Northeast Conference (NEC) Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
For each of the past seven years, the NEC and its Faculty Athletic Representatives have bestowed the honor upon the male and female student-athletes who have exhausted their athletic eligibility, graduated and compiled the highest grade point average in the Conference at the conclusion of the academic calendar. Japundza, a Management major, and Thibault, a Psychology major, posted perfect 4.0 GPAs, while Quaranta majored in Economics and Business and finished with a 3.98 GPA.
“Congratulations to Una, Carly and Mark for their tremendous academic and athletic careers” said Noreen Morris, NEC Commissioner. “To earn such perfection in the classroom while competing as a Division I student-athlete is an incredibly difficult task that requires unending commitment and dedication as well as flawless time management skills. I’m awed by their accomplishments and wish them the best of luck as they pursue their careers.”
Japundza recently earned the 2013 Presidential Transformational Award, RMU’s highest undergraduate honor. The award is given annually to a graduating student who has been transformed by his or her experience at RMU and was engaged in learning, leadership and community service, therefore transforming Robert Morris in the process. In addition to the Transformational Award, Japundza was the recipient of the Outstanding Management Student of the Year for 2012-13. As part of her extensive community service portfolio she helped dozens of international students file their taxes for the first time through VITA, RMU’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Upon her arrival at Robert Morris she became president of Carpe Mundum, the University’s international student organization, helping international students meet new people, navigate the academic landscape, learn the lingo and discover the treasures RMU has to offer. Additionally, Japundza tutored and mentored in the Center for Student Success, helping underclassmen with business courses. She was named to the NEC Academic and Commissioner’s Honor Roll three times and next plans to pursue an MBA.
Japundza, who transferred from UNC Asheville following her freshman season, played three years for the Colonials and was named team captain as a senior. The outside hitter was a valuable reserve this past season, ranking second on the club in blocks per set.
Thibault, a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, was honored at commencement with the Alumni Association Academic Achievement Award, given to the baccalaureate degree candidate who earned the highest grade point average during a four-year academic career spent exclusively at Monmouth. She also earned the Kelsey Award, presented to the Monmouth student-athlete with the highest GPA. Thibault, a four-time member of the NEC Academic and Commissioner’s Honor Roll, also earned a double minor in Health Studies and Spanish.
On the court, Thibault was named to the All-NEC third team after she ranked second in the NEC in three-point shooting, converting 43.9 percent of her shots from beyond the arc. She also finished the 2012-13 campaign with 58 three-pointers, the fifth-best mark in the Conference. Thibault ranks third all-time at Monmouth with 166 three-point field goals made.
Quaranta was one of four recipients of the Sheridan Award, annually presented to the Mount St. Mary’s student-athlete(s), who, through athletic and academic achievement, has exemplified the spirit and dedication demanded by intercollegiate athletics, and who, through such activity has fostered the ideals of Monsignor John L. Sheridan and Mount St. Mary’s University. He was also selected as a first team CoSIDA Academic-All District honoree. Quaranta was tabbed to the NEC Academic and Commissioner’s Honor Roll in each of his four years at the Mount.
Quaranta was voted first team All-NEC at the utility spot this past season after earning second team All-NEC honors as a catcher in his junior year. He hit .280 with 10 doubles, three home runs and 29 RBIs. Quaranta led the team with 26 walks and had a .369 on-base percentage. He ranks first all-time at the Mount in walks (76), and is also fourth in games played (185), fifth in at bats (605), sixth in hits (188) and doubles (37), and eighth in total bases (255).
NEC Scholar-Athlete of Year History
Year Men Women
2012-13 Mark Quaranta, MSM Una Japundza, RMU
Carly Thibault, MU
2011-12 Michael Foster, MSM Evgeniya Tyrtova, FDU
2010-11 Sean O’Reilly, SFU Ali Kliment, MU
2009-10 Filip Kisdobranski, SFC Maggie O’Connell Dubois, MSM
2008-09 Benjamin Evenden, MU Kathleen Henry, SHU
Tara Maxwell, RMU
Erin Reifsteck, SFU
2007-08 Ian Butcher, SFU Katja Bavendam, SFC
2006-07 Moran Stern, SFC Lisa Jaszka, RMU
Andrija Vrdoljak, SFC
About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 32nd 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 Bryant, Central Connecticut State, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU Brooklyn, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league’s official website (www.northeastconference.org) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube @NECsports.