NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin athletics department took time to reflect on a successful 2009-10 season by honoring its student-athletes at the annual Champions Dinner in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom Tuesday evening.
Along with the individual honors that were handed out, SFA also honored its three Southland Conference team champions. The Lumberjack football team got the year out to a successful start by posting a 10-3 record on their way to the 2009 SLC title, and the league's automatic berth in the NCAA FCS playoffs. Led by conference coach of the year J.C. Harper, the 'Jacks won their first league title since 1999, advanced to their first postseason appearance since the 1995 season and finished ranked among the nation's top 10 in all the major polls. The Ladyjack indoor track and field team won their second consecutive indoor title by dominating the competition. SFA scored 151 points at the championship meet to outdistance the competition by 29 points. It was the 14th time head coach Phil Olson has brought a conference title back to Nacogdoches. Less than a month later, the Ladyjack basketball team followed suit with their 15th SLC title in program history. The Ladyjacks won their final seven games to earn the conference regular-season title and lock up a berth in the WNIT.
The banquet was highlighted by the Ralph Todd and June Irwin Athlete of the Year awards, which honor the schools most outstanding male and female athletes. Senior Tim Knicky received the Ralph Todd Award after guiding the Lumberjacks to the 2009 conference title. A two-time All-American, Knicky closed out his career by being named to four different All-America squads and earning SLC Defensive Player of the Year honors. A four-time All-SLC selection, Knicky leaves SFA as the school's all-time leader in sacks.
Bishop is one of the best players to ever come through the Ladyjack softball program. A 2009 All-Southland Conference selection, Bishop holds the school's all-time record for home runs, RBIs and walks. She has also set the school standard for walks and home runs in a season. Bishop is hitting .305 this year and leads the team with nine home runs and 27 RBIs.
Senior safety Cory Barlow received the 2010 Dick Wright Award, which is given annually to the athlete who exhibits desire, determination and dedication. Barlow was a key figure in the 'Jacks defensive turnaround this past season. He was among the conference's leaders in interceptions and passes defended, and capped his senior campaign by earning first-team All-Southland Conference honors.
Senior distance runner Keith Mahipala was named the Bob Shelton Award winner, an award given annually to a senior male athlete who has completed his eligibility and has achieved academic success at SFA. Mahipala is a two-time all-conference selection who earned Academic All-Southland Conference honors last season. He closed out the 2009 outdoor campaign with one of the best races of his career. An NCAA All-Region selection, Mahipala rallied in the final 250 meters of the steeplechase to win the event at the conference outdoor meet in Nacogdoches.
Junior guard Eddie Williams was named the 2010 Steve McCarty Award winner. The heart-and-soul of the Lumberjack lineup, Williams transformed himself into one of the top young players in the Southland Conference. One of only six returning letterwinners on the squad, Williams guided SFA to a 23-9 (.719) overall record and an SLC East Division title. Williams averaged 13.3 points and 5.9 rebounds on his way to second-team All-SLC honors this past season.
The true-definition of a student-athlete, junior distance runner Amy Shackelford was the recipient of the 2010 Kathy McGough Academic Athlete of the Year award. A five-time All-SLC selection, Shackelford was named the SLC Track and Field Female Student-Athlete of the Year last season. A two-time SLC individual champion, Shackelford also received the 2010 Track and Field/Cross Country Murray Shaw Award which is handed out every year to the athlete with their team's highest GPA.
2010 SFA Champions Dinner
Tuesday, May 4, 2010