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Monmouth University field hockey graduate Morganne Firmstone (Honesdale, Pa./Honesdale) and cross country senior Jennifer Nelson (Barnegat, N.J./Barnegat [Ocean County College]) were named Northeast Conference Fall Scholar-Athletes, league officials announced Tuesday.  In addition, 23 Monmouth student-athletes were named to the Commissioner Honor Roll for achieving a 3.75 grade point average or higher, while 97 Hawks were added to the NEC Academic Honor Roll for maintaining at least 3.20 GPA.

“Monmouth University is very proud of the academic achievements of our student-athletes,” said Vice President and Director of Athletics Marilyn McNeil. “We applaud, in particular, the outstanding contributions of Morganne Firmstone and Jennifer Nelson.  Not only were they remarkable on their respective playing fields, but obviously outdistanced everyone in the academic realm as well. Having over 100 athletes, more than 25% of our student athlete body, be touted for academic excellence in the Northeast Conference is a source of real pride. Role models both in and outside the classroom, this is what Monmouth Athletics is all about.  Congratulations! Fly Hawks!”

Firmstone 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 out six assists. She leaves as the program’s all-time assist leader with 16 helpers. Firmstone earned her degree in communication 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.

“We are so happy to see Morganne get this award,” said head field hockey coach Carli Figlio. “Her dedication to academics is impressive and to receive it for a second year speaks volumes. She is an exemplary role model on and off the field.”

Competing on her home course in Holmdel, N.J., 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 concluded 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.

“Jen has done an amazing job for us the last two years in cross country and track,” stated head cross country and track & field coach Joe Compagni. “These past two years, she competed in all three seasons and has shown the ability, toughness and work ethic to be one of the best in the East. Academically, she has put in a great deal of effort to make sure she is at the top of her class and plans to go on to do graduate work next year.”

Both Firmstone and Nelson were also represented on the NEC Academic Honor Roll.