GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – Senior Paul Hernon (New Hartford, N.Y.) of the Wells College men's cross country and men's volleyball teams was announced as the inaugural North Eastern Athletic Conference Male Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Member of the Year award, the league office announced Monday.
Hernon joins Keuka College senior Brittany Hadley as the first-ever recipients of the award, instituted this year to recognize the multiple contributions of the SAAC members across the conference. Each school was allowed to nominate one male and one female SAAC member from their institution based on criteria such as their leadership roles within the group, their dedication to community service and their involvement on campus. All nominations were then reviewed and voted on by the SAAC advisors at each of the NEAC's 14 full-member schools.
A two-sport athlete as a member of the Express men's cross country and volleyball teams, Hernon was also highly involved with numerous campus organizations. He helped lead several community service initiatives as the Wells SAAC Vice Chair, including organizing a canned goods drive for the local food bank in addition to a Field Day event and an athletic gear donation drive that both benefitted the local Southern Cayuga school district.
Hernon's campus involvement also included student government, where he served as the elections manager for the Wells Collegiate Cabinet. He also led the school's Incentive Points Program, which encouraged all Express athletics teams through friendly competition to attend as many non-sport events (poetry readings, art exhibits, etc.) as possible during the academic year.
He was able to do all of this and balance two sports while still being an excellent student, as he became the first male recipient of the Kathryn S. Maloney Award, which is given to the Wells senior student-athlete with the highest grade-point average and who has participated in at least three years of collegiate athletics.
His academic and athletic excellence was also recognized at the national level, as he was recently honored by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) membership as a Capital One Academic All-District First Team At-Large honoree. Hernon was one of only nine men's volleyball players nationwide to make the exclusive list and only one of six from NCAA Division III institutions while being the lone NEAC representative.
"Paul really is a vital member of our Wells Community," said Wells SAAC advisor Mike O'Brien. "He did an outstanding job this year helping our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee engage with the community at large, while also fulfilling several leadership roles on campus."
Hernon wrapped up his Wells College career with a cumulative grade-point average of 4.037, earning Dean's List honors during his tenure in Aurora. A two-time NEAC Scholar-Athlete recipient in 2012-13 and 2013-14, Hernon graduated this past Saturday with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Adolescence Education.
A strong net-front presence for Head Coach Richard Gary and the men's volleyball team, Hernon finished as the North Eastern Athletic Conference leader with 1.20 blocks per set against NEAC opponents and was the conference's overall leader in blocks per set (1.16). On a national scale, Hernon ranked fifth amongst all NCAA Division III men's volleyball players with 1.19 blocks per set and was the eighth-ranked active player across the country with 0.87 career blocks per set.
Offensively, Hernon chipped in with a .228 attacking percentage in 2015, racking up a career-best 130 kills for Wells on 312 swings. He also posted 111 total blocks as a senior, leading the team with 17 solo blocks and 94 block assists. He graduates as the all-time men's volleyball record holder in solo blocks (49), block assists (217), total blocks (266), blocks per set (0.86), sets played (310) and matches played (98).
A member of the inaugural men's volleyball team in 2012, Hernon and the Express qualified for their first-ever NEAC postseason appearance in 2015. He was also a key cog in the construction of the men's volleyball team at Wells, playing in the most matches in team history (98), missing only seven matches across his career.
With the men's cross country team, Hernon earned Third Team All-Conference merits as a junior and led all runners on the team three separate times as a senior. A two-time participant at the NCAA Division III Atlantic Regional race, Hernon boasts the fourth-fastest 8K time in team history (29:43.20) and holds the fifth-fastest 6K time (22:02.70).
At Wells, Hernon won the Lesley Wead Zabriskie Express award for men's volleyball and men's cross country in 2015 and has won Rookie of the Year for men's volleyball in 2012. He has also racked up Most Valuable Player honors in men's volleyball and men's cross country as a junior, serving as a team captain in 2013.