Four Lord Jeffs Named to Academic All-District First Team

AMHERST, MA – Four Amherst College student-athletes were named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District Men’s and Women’s At-Large First Teams, which were announced today by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Tad Homchick '10

A co-captain of Amherst’s 2009-10 men’s swimming and diving team, Tad Homchick ’10 (Mercer Island, WA) is the school’s lone male representative on the Academic All-District squad. On the women’s side, swimmer Kendra Stern ’11 (Albuquerque, NM), tennis player Brittany Berckes ’10 (Secaucus, NJ) and ice hockey standout Kirsten Dier ’10 (Appleton, WI) were each named to the All-District First Team.

In the At-Large program, schools can nominate three men's candidates and three women's candidates. Nominated student-athletes must have significant athletic credentials with at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA. Those named to the All-District First Team are eligible for the All-America Teams, which are announced Tuesday, June 8 (men) and Thursday, June 10 (women).

Homchick joins Trinity College wrestler Jacob Gire ’10 as the only NESCAC male student-athletes to earn All-District honors. In addition to being some of the region’s most accomplished athletes, the 20 First and Second Team honorees from the District 1 College Division boast an average GPA of 3.80, ranging from 3.49 to 4.00.

An economics major, Homchick played a significant role in leading the Amherst men’s swimming and diving team to the three best NCAA Championship finishes in program history. After the Lord Jeffs placed 10th at nationals in 2008, they rounded out the top five in 2009 and 2010. Homchick earned All-America honors in each of those years thanks to a trio of dominant performances in the 400-yard freestyle relay, as well as a solid showing in this year’s 400-yard medley relay.

Kirsten Dier '10

Homchick is also a three-time NESCAC champion and eight-time All-NESCAC honoree, helping the Jeffs win the conference title in the 400 free relay in 2008 and 2009, as well as the 200 free relay in 2008. He is part of the group that holds the 400 medley relay NESCAC record, also boasting team records in the 50-yard freestyle, 200 free relay and 400 free relay. Homchick was named to the conference’s All-Academic Team as a junior and senior.

Six NESCAC women earned All-District honors, but only Amherst’s three were named to the First Team. Worcester Polytechnic Institute had two selections as the only other school with more than one representative on the First Team. The 34 honorees from the District 1 College Division have an average GPA of 3.81, ranging from 3.43 to 4.06. Joining the Lord Jeffs from the NESCAC are Connecticut College’s Phoebe Bakanas ’10 (Third Team, Water Polo) and Hamilton’s Deb Barany ’10 (Second Team, Tennis) and Liz Rave ’10 (Third Team, Lacrosse).

Dier majors in neuroscience and will graduate this weekend as one of the most accomplished students in Amherst history. After being named one of seven finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, which honors college hockey’s finest citizen, Dier led Amherst to a second consecutive NCAA title. In each of the national championship years, Dier was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team as one of the Lord Jeffs’ captains.

Dier earned a spot on the NESCAC’s All-Conference Team three times and on the All-Academic Team twice, also leading the Jeffs to the conference title in 2007, 2008 and 2010. As one of the nation’s top defensemen, Dier helped Amherst post an 87-18-11 overall record and 50-4-10 conference mark in her four years, tallying 20 goals and 53 assists for 73 career points. A Phi Beta Kappa student, Dier has volunteered with numerous charities, generously donating her time in West Africa as a medical assistant in the summer of 2009.

Kendra Stern '11

Majoring in art history and Spanish, Stern is already one of Amherst’s most accomplished swimmers of all time. She has been crowned an NCAA champion 10 times in three years as a dominant freestyle racer, winning national titles in the 100 (2008, 2009, 2010), 200 (2008, 2009, 2010), 500 (2008), 400 free relay (2008), 800 free relay (2008) and 400 medley relay (2008). The Lord Jeffs have placed in the top six at nationals in each of the past three years, including a runner-up finish in 2008.

Stern is currently the national record holder in the 100 free (48.98) and 200 free (1:45.31), and seven times has been named National Swimmer of the Week. She is a 13-time NESCAC champion, earning the conference’s Swimmer of the Meet honor at the 2008 and 2010 championship events. Stern holds NESCAC records in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle races, as well as the 400 and 800 free relays and 400 medley relay. She was named to the NESCAC All-Academic Team this past winter, and last year earned a spot on CoSIDA’s Academic All-District Third Team.

Rounding out Amherst’s recipients is Berckes, who last year was named to the Academic All-District Second Team. A political science major, Berckes has been the face of Amherst women’s tennis since her first year with the Lord Jeffs. She and Alicia Menezes ’08 were crowned NCAA doubles champions in 2007 and 2008, as Berckes has posted a dominant 56-21 doubles record while at the top of the ladder. She helped lead Amherst to the 2007 and 2009 national title matches, and this year has the Jeffs back in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament.

Brittany Berckes '10

A four-time All-NESCAC selection in both singles and doubles play, Berckes was named the conference’s Player of the Year in 2008. She has helped the Jeffs post a 74-11 (24-3 NESCAC) record in dual matches, leading the team to four consecutive conference titles and a 9-4 record against Williams College. After competing in the NCAA Team Championship next week, Berckes will once take part in the national singles and doubles tournaments. In addition to being a two-time national doubles champion, she advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2008 singles bracket.

Homchick, Dier, Stern and Berckes have a chance to join an elite group of only 17 Amherst student-athletes who have earned Academic All-America honors since 1982. No female student-athlete from the Lord Jeffs’ ice hockey, swimming and diving, or tennis teams has ever been named to a CoSIDA Academic All-America Team. Michael Pohorylo ’04 (Third Team) and Kai Robinson ’09 (Second Team) are the only men from the swimming and diving team to ever earn Academic All-America status.

Eligible sports for the Academic All-America At-Large program are field hockey, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, swimming and diving, skiing, tennis, men’s volleyball, water polo, men’s wrestling, women’s bowling, women’s crew, fencing, rifle, and gymnastics.

A complete list of the 2009-10 ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District Teams will be posted on the CoSIDA Website.