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Kenny Smith, Monique Dawson Named 2006-07 Western Carolina Student-Athletes of the Year

July 6, 2007

Cullowhee, N.C. - Senior second baseman Kenny Smith (baseball) and junior guard Monique Dawson (women's basketball) were named Western Carolina's Student-Athletes of the Year for the 2006-07 athletic season, as announced today by the WCU Athletic Department. The two will officially be recognized and honored in August during a brief ceremony at the annual student-athlete meeting.

Smith edged out men's golf junior Matt Cook and men's track sprinter, sophomore Manteo Mitchell, for the yearly award, while softball sophomore Stephanie Beatty was the runner-up on the women's side.

In an effort to include all of the accomplishments of the 2006-07 athletic teams in the decision of athlete of the year, Western abstained from voting on the awards until the conclusion of the Catamount baseball and track & field seasons. All team MVPs, as voted on by each individual sport's coaching staff and players, were considered in naming the overall student-athletes of the year. Additional nominees based upon individual performance were also considered in the voting process. A full-listing of WCU 2006-07 MVPs, as well as those also considered in the voting process, is included below.

Smith, who transferred to Western from UNC Wilmington prior to his final season, was named the consensus Southern Conference Player of the Year by both the league's head coaches and voting media. He became the 13th-different Catamount to win the school's Triple Crown after leading the squad in batting average (.390), runs batted in (84) and home runs (20) this season, with his 84 RBI not only leading the SoCon but also tying a school-record now shared with Chris Moore (1999).

Along the lines of post-season accolades, Smith was named to the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-Atlantic Region second team, as well as a second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball newspaper. In addition, he was tabbed to the 12-member North Carolina College Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) University Division All-State Baseball Team. During WCU's run to the finals of the NCAA Baseball Championship Chapel Hill Regional, Smith hit .316 (6-for-19) with a pair of homers, a double and five RBI. The Asheville, N.C., native posted a .684 slugging percentage with just one strikeout in 19 at bats in Chapel Hill to earn all-tournament accolades.

Smith was named SoCon Player of the Month in March and was a two-time SoCon Player of the Week. He was also among the final 30 players in consideration for the prestigious Brooks Wallace Award, which is given to the top collegiate baseball player in the nation. He was drafted and signed by the Texas Rangers in the 20th round (620th overall pick) of this year's Major League baseball draft. He is currently playing for the Spokane Indians of the Northwest League where he is tied for third on the team in batting average at .300 (12-for-40) with four doubles and 16 RBI.

Dawson helped guide the Lady Catamount basketball team to its most successful season in the modern era, posting a school-record 24 wins - including the 500th all-time - and claimed a share of the school's first-ever SoCon regular season championship. WCU also claimed an in-season tournament championship, winning the Coors Rocky Mountain Invitational hosted by Colorado State in which Dawson averaged 16 points per game en route to being named tournament MVP.

Overall, Dawson scored in double digits 25 of the 34 games this season, twice reaching her career-high of 24 points in wins over Wake Forest from the ACC and perennial SoCon leader, Chattanooga. She was voted first team All-Southern Conference by both the league's head coaches and the media and was also named SoCon Player of the Week on Jan. 16.

The Charlotte, N.C., native dished out 111 assists last season to rank 10th on WCU's single-season charts with her 78 steals ranking second on the same seasonal list. Dawson ranks seventh on both the career 3-pointers made and 3-pointers attempted charts with 83 and 269, respectively.

The following were named their respective sports Most Valuable Players during the 2006-07 season:

Baseball: Kenny Smith (senior from Asheville, N.C.) see above.

Men's Basketball: Nick Aldridge (freshman from South Webster, Ohio) was named to the 16-member Freshman Mid-Major All-America team as selected by NCAA Division I men's basketball coaches, NBA scouts and the web site's staff. Aldridge was selected to both the All-Southern Conference and All-Freshman team by the league's head coaches. He averaged six rebounds each game while posting three steals and three assists en route to garnering all-tournament accolades. Aldridge finished the season having scored in double-figures in 27 of the 30 games in which he played, closing the year with 20-consecutive, double-digit outings and twice tallying 30-points in a game. He also recorded six double-doubles in his first year for the Catamounts.

Women's Basketball: Chevon Keith (junior from Ivanhoe, N.C.) was a Southern Conference All-Tournament First Team Selection. She was also voted to the conference all-tournament team. In addition to ranking 14th in the league in scoring (10.2 ppg) last year, Keith was third in the conference in rebounding at 7.9 boards per game. She led the SoCon in offensive rebounds (3.48 per game) and was third in defensive boards (4.45 per game). Keith had 11 points and eight rebounds in the Southern Conference title game against Chattanooga.

Also considered... Monique Dawson (junior from Charlotte, N.C. ) see above.

Cheerleading: Kelly Sikes (senior from Asheville, N.C.) was the team captain for the 2006-07 squad.

Men's Cross Country: Dan Fassinger (senior from Snellville, Ga.) finished sixth overall at the 2006 Southern Conference Cross Country Championships. He was named to the All-Conference team. On October 20, 2006 Fassinger was named Southern Conference Runner of the Week after placing 12th, and 10th among collegians, at the Blue Ridge Open in Boone, N.C.

Women's Cross Country: Kerrie Savery (junior from Palm Harbor, Fla.) finished 23rd at the 2006 Southern Conference Cross Country Championships. She led the Catamounts to a second place team finish at the Clemson Cross Country meet with a second place finish in the meet. Her time of 18:45 was only nine seconds behind the first place finisher. She was named TIAA/CREF Student Athlete of the week on September 13.

Football: Darius Fudge (senior from Riverdale, Ga.) was named to the Coaches All-Southern Conference Team. He made the team for the second consecutive season. In 2006, Fudge rushed for 1,001 yards with his 91.00 yards per game ranking third in the SoCon and 37th nationally. He rushed for over 100 yards in five games, including 104 versus Eastern Kentucky, a career-high 151 versus Chattanooga, 129 at The Citadel, 132 at Wofford and 102 at Liberty. With 44 yards in his season finale at Florida - despite having no yards at halftime, Fudge eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier to become just the sixth Catamount to accomplish the feat and marking just the eighth time it has happened in WCU history. Fudge ends his career with 2,274 career rushing yards to finish seventh on the WCU all-time list. Also for his career, The Riverdale, Ga., native had 456 rushing attempts and finishes his career 10th on the career attempts list and fourth on the career yards per carry list with his average of 4.99.

Men's Golf: Matt Cook (junior from Murphy, N.C.) finished fourth at the 2007 Southern Conference Men's Golf Championships, earning all-tournament honors. The fourth-place showing for Cook marked the third of his WCU career, which includes a fifth-place finish his freshman season and individual medalist honors a year ago. He was also voted All-Southern Conference.

Women's Golf: Malin Fryk (junior from Trollhattan, Sweden) finished tied for third, shooting 148 in the two-day tournament, and was also named Southern All-Conference. She helped lead the women's golf team to a Southern Conference Tournament title. She was named Southern Conference Women's Golfer of the Month for the month of September. Fryk won the Draper Valley Intercollegiate Tournament in September and finished second at the Lady Jaguar Invitational in March.

Also considered... Desiree Karlsson (freshman from Ljunghusen, Sweden) was named Southern Conference Women's Golf Freshman of the Year, joining the likes of former Catamounts Line Cordes (2002) and Brandy Andersen (2003) to earn the top rookie honors. Led Western with an even-par, 216, at the NCAA East Regional finishing tied for 23rd where she carded the teams' lowest round of the season (70, Rd 3). Karlsson was the Catamounts' top scorer in three events, posting a career-high third place finish at the 2006 Wachovia Great Smokies Intercollegiate at the Waynesville Country Club.

Soccer: Heather Dittmer (junior from Marietta, Ga.) was named to the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association's (NCCSIA) 2006 University Division All-State Women's Soccer team. Dittmer was a first team All-Southern Conference selection for the Catamounts in 2006. Dittmer led the Catamounts during the regular season with 12 total points, including five goals and a pair of assists. Dittmer twice scored game-winning goals for Western, securing the lone tally in the 1-0 home win over Wofford and scoring the first of three Catamount markers in the 3-0 shutout win over mountain-rival, UNC Asheville. Dittmer also led the team with 49 shots with a team-high tying 21 going on goal.

Softball: Stephanie Beatty (sophomore from Midlands, N.C.) was a first team All-Southern Conference selection after leading the Catamounts with a .363 batting average. She amassed school single-season records with 70 hits including 15 doubles. Beatty was one of the 11 student-athletes, representing eight different schools, named to the 2007 North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) College Division All-State Softball Team. She ranked second among the Southern Conference hitting leaders while leading Western with 38 runs scored and 43 RBI and finished second with eight home runs. She was selected the SoCon Softball Athlete of the Month in March and was named to the 2007 Spring Academic All-Southern Conference team.

Women's Tennis: Trish Hanson (junior from Alpharetta, Ga.) was 8-7 overall and posted a record of 6-9 at No. 1 singles. She led the team with nine wins at No. 1 doubles and was 6-4 in her last 10 doubles matches. Hanson and partner Tessie Salame won the consolation doubles championship at the Residence Inn North Wolfpack Invitational in the fall of 2006.

Women's Indoor Track and Field: Raquel Ramseur (junior from Charlotte, N.C.) took the top spot in the 400-meter dash (56.33), edging senior teammate Asia Davis (57.26) by nearly a full second at the Southern Conference Indoor Championships. Ramseur also posted a runner-up finish in the 200-meter dash (24.53) and was fourth in the 60-meter dash at the indoor championships. She provisionally qualified for the NCAA Indoor Track & Field at the Alex Wilson Invitational placing second overall in the women's 400-meter dash with a WCU school-record time of 54.31.

Women's Outdoor Track and Field: Co-Winners Raquel Ramseur (junior from Charlotte, N.C.) and Asia Davis (junior from Charlotte, N.C.). Ramseur scored 18 individual points for the Catamount women's team at the Southern Conference Outdoor Championships. She won the 400-meters with a qualifying time of 54.41. She also placed second in the 200-meters. Davis won the 400-meter hurdles at the Southern Conference Outdoor Championships with a qualifying time of 1:00.48. Davis recorded five first-place runs individually in the 100- and 400-meter hurdles, while also running on the first-place 4x400-meter relay team at the WCU Invitational.

Men's Indoor Track and Field: Mike Malone (senior from Gainesville, Ga.) placed third in the long jump at the Southern Conference Indoor Championships. Notched his second podium finish of the championships with a third place finish this time in the 60-metre hurdles. He finished with two All-Southern Conference awards.

Men's Outdoor Track and Field: Co-Winners Mike Malone (senior from Gainesville, Ga.) and Manteo Mitchell (sophomore form Mooresboro, N.C.). Malone accumulated 21 total points for Western Carolina in the individual events at the Southern Conference Outdoor Championships, running fifth in the 100-meter dash, third in the 110-meter hurdles and fourth in the 400-meter hurdles, while also leaping 7.19 meters (23-7.25) in the long jump to finish on the podium in third. Mitchell placed second in the 200-meters at the Southern Conference Outdoor Championships with a qualifying time of 21.05.

Also considered... Dominique Young (freshman from Charlotte, N.C.) was named the Southern Conference Men's Indoor and Men's Outdoor Track & Field Freshman of the Year. He earned All-Southern Conference accolades in the indoor 60- and 200-meter dash events and was tabbed all-conference by winning the 100-meter dash, 4x100m Relay, 4x400m Relay at the SoCon outdoor meet, also recording a podium finish in the 200-meter dash. Young helped WCU finish ninth at the NCAA National Championships during the outdoor season as a member of the men's 4x100-meter relay team. He finished sixth in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash events at the AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Junior/Senior Championships.

Volleyball: Meredith Harmon (junior from Villa Hills, Ky.) led the team in the middle with 379 kills in 2006 (2.94 kills per game). She also ranked among the team leaders in blocks, averaging 0.75 per game for a combined 446points scored.

Also considered... Liz Rondone (freshman from Bloomington, Ill.) shattered Western's single-season digs record with 770 digs which also set a SoCon record. She also established a new benchmark for digs per game at 5.97 which ranked second in the SoCon and 15th nationally. Rondone was also recognized as one of the "Rising Stars" in women's college volleyball as chosen by the Collegiate Volleyball Update (CVU).