April 29, 2009
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State Athletics will host the 2009 Night of Champions Wednesday night to honor the academic and athletic accomplishments of the student-athletes.
Like in prior years, two standout student-athletes, one man and one woman, were selected to give a speech and to represent their peers.
This year's men's student-athlete will be track and field star Evan Young.
Young is a senior in his final year at Fresno State and has enjoyed every bit of his journey.
"I originally came to Fresno State looking to compete in the hurdles," Young said, "But when I got here, the coaches approached me with an idea that I knew I had to pursue."
The idea was that Young could be more than just a hurdler. The coaching staff saw the potential for Young to become a highly competitive decathlete.
The decathlon is a 10-part event that is said to be one of the most physically grueling competitions in athletics, making it pursuable only by the best of the best.
Being competitive in not only the hurdles, but the decathlon as a whole, became Young's new goal.
By the time he reached the WAC Championships at the end of his first season, Young was well on his way to his goal. The then-freshman totaled 5,766 points in the decathlon to take fourth, while staying true to his original event, with a second-place finish in the 110 hurdles.
Young had found his niche in the decathlon and continued to hone his skills in each of the ten individual events. The WAC Championships in his junior year proved his work well worth the effort as he nabbed second place at the conference meet with 6,659 points.
After a redshirt season, Young was faced with a coaching change in his senior year. At first, he was wary, knowing he would be working through a coaching transition with only a year of eligibility left.
"I knew it was going to bring a lot of change to the program," Young said, "And while I figured a little change would be a good thing, at the same time, I felt a drastic change could have negative effects."
Young kept an optimistic outlook and, in the end, was very pleased with how things turned out.
"All-in-all, the changes that were made ended up working out good for us," Young said. "I believe that we became an even more well-rounded team in every aspect of competition and wish that I had more time here to be a part of it."
On Wednesday night, Young will share a piece of his Fresno State experience with all of his student-athlete peers. While not wanting to reveal his entire speech, he says he plans to share about what his education and Fresno State Athletics has developed him as a person.
"When I found out I was selected to speak I was surprised, very honored and a little nervous," Young said. "I know a lot of people will be there, especially my teammates, and I want to make them proud."
Although the Night of Champions is near the end of the athletic year for most teams, Young and the rest of the track and field team still have the conference meet and NCAAs ahead of them.
The senior pointed out to the focus and determination the team has shown throughout the season and said that if they maintain their intensity, they can make a run at the WAC Championships.
"We are in a good position skill-wise right now," Young said, "I feel like if we can pull together as a team, we can accomplish our goals and a WAC Championship is within reach."
No matter what the turnout at the end of the conference championships, Young says that out of his five years as a Bulldog, the friendships that he has made that he will be what he most cherishes.
"My teammates are like my family," said Young. "The friendships I have made will last a lifetime."
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