Mike Howells/Collegian File Photo
The fourth annual “Night of Champions” honored Fresno State’s premier student-athletes on Monday, acknowledging their accomplishments both on and off the field.
The night’s top awards of Bulldog of the Year went to Eric Battles for his accomplishments in track and field and cross country, along with Katie Lee for her performance with the soccer team. Both have also excelled in the classroom with Battles earning a 3.94 GPA and Lee a 4.0.
The other male student-athletes receiving nominations for Bulldog of the Year were Remi Boutillier for tennis, Nedeljko Golubovic for basketball and Brian Sunker for golf. The other females nominees were Haley Gilleland in softball, Jaleesa Ross in basketball and Dani Yoho in swimming.
The night also featured the speeches given by this year’s Bulldog Spirit Award winners Lorne Bell and Kelly Mason, both seniors.
“I think it’s a really great way to wrap up my four years at Fresno State,” Mason said. “I was really proud of winning the award. I knew it would be if not for my team and the whole athletic department. It was a really great moment.”
Both Bell and Mason relived the moments that made them who they are today. Bell told how a severe injury on the football field brought him to the realization that no athlete can compete forever, and that an athlete’s playing days are limited. Mason recounted how her experience with the volleyball team brought her to the realization that sometimes change is for the better.
The night also honored the Western Athletic Conference championship teams of the previous year, which included baseball, soccer, women’s basketball, women’s tennis, as well as individual event awards to Rosario Sanchez, Frank Sanders, Paul Zwama, Latrisha Jordan and Olivier Collin in cross country.
The lacrosse team also continued their tradition of winning the Athletic Director’s Community Service Award for the third straight year by donating more than 440 hours of their time to causes such as Big Heroes/Little Heroes, SPCA and Breast Cancer Awareness. Combined, the 450 student-athletes contributed more than 1,500 hours to help the community.
Softball player Brooke Ortiz and football player Jalen Saunders won the George Ilg Memorial as the top newcomers to compete as Bulldogs.
There were three recipients of the Paul Schechter Courage award, which is given to those who overcome an injury or adversity. Football player Joe Bernardi and women’s basketball player Emma Andrews won as student-athletes while Dr. Cary Tanner, one of Fresno State’s team physicians, were honored.
Matt Weir/Collegian File Photo
Equestrian rider Hilary West, women’s basketball player Bree Farley, cross country runner Oliver Collin and baseball player Garrett Weber won the Harold Haak Award for best highlight. West won for two wins over top-ranked Texas A&M, Farley for her last-second shot in the WAC Tournament championship, Collin’s WAC championship run and Weber for his game-winning hit in a 22-inning victory over San Diego in March.
“It’s a good moment, but it’s an award that can’t really go just to me,” Farley said. “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. My teammates did all the hard work before this moment.”
The Thaxter Awards went to Kevin Bergman, while the Bill Kennedy Scholarship went to Devry Ortiz for her work on the Bulldog training staff.
There were also 145 athletes who have been enrolled for a year, competed in at least half of the team’s events and maintained a minimum of a 3.0. GPA, an increase of almost 50 who accomplished the feat last year. There were also 252 student-athletes who received a 3.0. or higher with a total of 241 times on the Dean’s List, 18 of which had a perfect 4.0. record while 41 had at least one semester with that mark.