Inaugural Event Highlights Bulldog Athletes

Fresno State's inaugural Night of Champions highlighted the successes of the athletes from the 2007-2008 season both on the field and in the classroom.

Team champions, individual champions, and various academic award honorees all earned recognition in a night truly meant for champions.

The George Ilg Award, recognizing two graduating seniors for academic and athletic achievement as well as community service, went to women's basketball's Erica Henry and baseball's Steve Susdorf. Moses Harris and Grace Wiesmann were named the 2008 winners of the Harold Haak Scholarship.

The Paul Schechter Courage Award, named for long-time Bulldog athletic trainer Paul Schechter, recognizes a student-athlete who has overcome a physical challenge to become a champion. Ahijah Lane was recognized for triumphing over his devastating knee injury during a pre-season scrimmage. Also earning the Courage Award was football Defensive Coordinator Dan Brown who triumphed over brain cancer during the football season.

After winning the Ilg Award, Henry took the podium as a student speaker, encouraging the group to leave Fresno State a better place than when they found it.

"Fresno State became my home away from home," she said. "And I'm proud of what I've accomplished here and the legacy we'll leave."

The Student-Athlete Advisory Council named the Hali Coppin of women's golf and Frank Sanders of men's track and field Bulldog Spirit Award winners of 2008.

Tyrone Bradley of the 1983 NIT Championship team took the stage, telling the athletes to remember "once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog." He encouraged the student-athletes to take what they learned on the field and in the classroom at Fresno State as they enter the work world and "hang up [their] golden shoes."

The final award of the night, the newly-minted Bulldog of the Year Award, went to Clint Stitser and Katie Nenneker.

"I'm shocked," said Stitser. "Really shocked; and honored. This award is truly an honor to represent the school like this."

Nenneker agreed.

"Clint pretty much covered it," said Nenneker. "It's an awesome feeling to be able to be up here winning this award."

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