Buchholz, Cody and Bernardes Achieve Perfection to Earn NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Honors - Northeast Conference Skip To Main Content


The Official Site of the Northeast Conference
The Official Site of the Northeast Conference


Buchholz, Cody and Bernardes Achieve Perfection to Earn NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Honors


Somerset, NJ -- Three Northeast Conference student-athletes graduated with perfect academic records this spring.

Completing their undergraduate careers with 4.00 grade-point averages, Merrimack women’s soccer defender Grace Buchholz (Skaneateles, NY/Skaneateles (LeMoyne)) and Saint Francis U women’s distance runner Shannon Cody (Exton, PA/Bishop Shanahan) are co-recipients of the NEC Female Team Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.

Equaling that perfection, St. Francis Brooklyn men’s tennis player Tomas Bernardes (Buenos Aires, Argentina/Instituto Martin Guemes) owns the NEC Male Team Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.

“I’m highly impressed by this trio of student-athletes for achieving 4.0 grade-point averages despite the challenges presented by the global pandemic," said Northeast Conference Commissioner Noreen Morris. "On behalf of the entire NEC, we are so proud of what this group has accomplished and can't wait to see what the future holds in store for them.”

In its 15th year, the NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, which is sponsored by the league’s Faculty Athletic Representatives, goes to the male and female student-athletes who have graduated after compiling the highest grade point average in the Conference at the conclusion of the academic calendar.

Buchholz majored in International Business and Accounting while logging three seasons on the pitch in North Andover. With Merrimack transitioning into the Division I ranks, the Skaneateles, NY product made 15 appearances during her time with the Warriors. This spring, the senior back appeared in road matches at New Hampshire and Sacred Heart. After spending one year at LeMoyne College, Buchholz found a home at Merrimack, where she pursued a Spanish minor in addition to her business studies.

Cody ended her 2021 outdoor track season by posting a personal best in the 3,000m steeplechase at the Northeast Conference Championships. In addition to her fifth place finish at the conference meet, the Accounting major won the steeplechase at the Mount St. Mary’s Invitational this past April and snared a silver medal one week later at the Mount’s 33-48 Meet. The Exton, PA product ran on Saint Francis U’s sixth-place Distance Medley Relay at the 2020 NEC Indoor Championships and also posted a top-20 finish at the 2019 NEC Cross Country Championships. Cody has accepted a position as an Auditor with Kearney & Company in Alexandria, Virginia and plans to take the CPA exam.

Bernardes journeyed from Argentina to California’s Grossmont College before landing in Brooklyn Heights, where he went on to earn an Economics degree. During the 2019-20 academic year, the Argentine-born tennis player competed in three singles matches and four doubles bouts. After completing a St. Francis College Economics program particularly strong in its coverage of international economic relations, Bernardes is pursuing an internship in New York City before continuing his studies on a graduate level in Europe.

NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year History

Year       Men                                        Women
2019-20    Gregory Heider, Saint Francis U            Delaney Beck, Wagner
           Scott Meredith, Saint Francis U            Adriana Forcucci, Sacred Heart
2018-19    Shane Vyskocil, Bryant                     Lacee Collins, Robert Morris
           Frank Cerillo, LIU Brooklyn                Dana DiRenzo, St. Francis Brooklyn
           Nicholas Nemergut, St. Francis Brooklyn    Samantha Lackner, Robert Morris
                                                      Elise Dumouchelle, Saint Francis U
2017-18    Charlton Boyd, Wagner                      Abigail Hood, Sacred Heart
           Joseph Choiniere, Sacred Heart             Kristina Neri, Fairleigh Dickinson
           Marcus DaSliva, St. Francis Brooklyn
2016-17    Joseph Paparelli, Bryant                   Taylor Allison, Saint Francis U
                                                      Sarah Bonson, Mount St. Mary’s
                                                      Nicole Dean, Central Connecticut
                                                      Lea Lieb, Sacred Heart
                                                      Avika Sagwal, Wagner
2015-16    Washi Gervais, Saint Francis U             Dragana Dzigurski, St. Francis Brooklyn
                                                      Haley Fournier, Mount St. Mary’s
                                                      Sarah Ross, Saint Francis U
                                                      Brittany Sarza, Bryant
2014-15    David Lonnberg, St. Francis Brooklyn       Katie Fox, St. Francis Brooklyn
2013-14    Travis Denny, Robert Morris                Ellen Huffman, Wagner
2012-13    Mark Quaranta, Mount St. Mary’s            Una Japundza, Robert Morris
                                                      Carly Thibault, Monmouth
2011-12    Michael Foster, Mount St. Mary’s           Evgeniya Tyrtova, Fairleigh Dickinson
2010-11    Sean O’Reilly, Saint Francis U             Ali Kliment, Monmouth
2009-10    Filip Kisdobranski, St. Francis Brooklyn   Maggie O’Connell Dubois, Mount St. Mary’s
2008-09    Benjamin Evenden, Monmouth                 Kathleen Henry, Sacred Heart
                                                      Tara Maxwell, Robert Morris
                                                      Erin Reifsteck, Saint Francis U
2007-08    Ian Butcher, Saint Francis U               Katja Bavendam, St. Francis Brooklyn
2006-07    Moran Stern, St. Francis Brooklyn          Lisa Jaszka, Robert Morris
           Andrija Vrdoljak, St. Francis Brooklyn

About The Northeast Conference
Now wrapping up its 39th year, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 11 institutions of higher learning located throughout seven states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to a number of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Boston (#9), Pittsburgh (#24), Baltimore (#26), Hartford/New Haven (#33) and Providence (#53). 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 access to 16 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU, Merrimack, Mount St. Mary’s, 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, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, all @NECsports.