CEDAR CITY, Utah - Southern Utah University and Director of Athletics Doug Knuth are proud to announce the distinguished individuals and teams comprising the esteemed 2023 Hall of Fame Class. This year's class includes outstanding athletes, a revered coach, and an exceptional team whose remarkable contributions have left an indelible mark on Thunderbird athletics.

Director Of Athletics Doug Knuth Said

"We are thrilled to welcome the exceptional individuals and teams comprising the 2023 Hall of Fame Class. Their remarkable achievements and unwavering commitment to excellence have left a permanent mark on our athletic program. The legacy they have built will continue to inspire and motivate our current and future Thunderbirds. We are proud to honor their outstanding contributions and celebrate their well-deserved induction into the Hall of Fame. Congratulations to each member of the class on this tremendous accomplishment!"

The 2023 Hall of Fame Class features a stellar lineup of accomplished individuals and teams who have exemplified excellence, dedication, and T-Bird spirit throughout their tenure at Southern Utah University.

Jeff Monaco, a legendary basketball player from 1997 to 2001, played a pivotal role in leading the Thunderbirds to the 2001 NCAA Tournament. Monaco's extraordinary skills and leadership qualities contributed significantly to the team's success. Holding the SUU record for assists in a single game (15) and second in steals in a single game (8), Monaco left a mark on the basketball program that cannot be erased. His exceptional performance earned him the title of 2000-01 Player of the Year.

Nate Jewkes, a remarkable athlete in cross country and track from 2011 to 2015, remains a prominent figure in the SUU record books. As an All-American and Conference Champion, Jewkes demonstrated exceptional talent in multiple events. His remarkable achievement includes being part of the 2013 XC team that secured 11th place at the DI National Championships.

Sharla Platt Manuele, a trailblazing athlete in cross country and track from 2006 to 2011, showcased remarkable skills throughout her career. With five All-Conference honors, Manuele's excellence extended to being a 3K Conference Champion in 2008. She secured four bids to NCAA Regionals and Nationals, and her 16th place finish in the mile at the NCAA DI Nationals in 2010 earned her 2nd-team All-American recognition.

Kayla Kovar, a phenomenal athlete in field events from 2010 to 2015, holds an exceptional legacy at SUU. Kovar's remarkable accomplishments include holding five school records in Hammer, Discus, Indoor Shot Put, Outdoor Shot Put, and Indoor Weight Throw. Her outstanding performances garnered her four 2nd Team All-American titles and the prestigious Big Sky Conference Athlete of the Year award in 2014. Kovar's achievements continue to inspire and set a high standard for future athletes.

Brad Sorensen, a legendary quarterback from 2010 to 2012, etched his name in the SUU record books with unmatched achievements. As the first T-Bird to be drafted into the NFL in the 7th round by the San Diego Chargers, Sorensen's skills and leadership on the field were truly exceptional. His notable accolades include being a 2012 and 2013 Payton Award finalist, as well as holding the all-time records for career total plays, total yards, completions, yards, and touchdown passes.

John Evans, a renowned coach in the SUU men's golf program since 1970, played an instrumental role in shaping the team's success and guiding its transition to Division I status. Evans's passion and commitment have left an indelible impact on the golf program, and his dedication to excellence has inspired generations of athletes.

The 2010 Gymnastics Team stands as a testament to the unwavering dedication and collective talent of its members. Claiming the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championship, this exceptional team showcased remarkable achievements. Elise Wheeler was named Gymnast of the Year, while Alyssa Click was recognized as Freshman of the Year. Coach Scott Bauman earned the prestigious Coach of the Year title. The team's legacy includes holding the second-highest vault team score in SUU history (49.275) and finishing the regular season as No. 18 in the NCAA. Although narrowly missing a spot at Nationals, the team secured 3rd place at the NCAA Regional competition. Elise Wheeler's participation in the NCAA National Championships further solidified the team's remarkable accomplishments. Additionally, nine gymnasts from the team were named Academic All-WAC, highlighting their dedication to both athletics and academics.

Stacey Brinkman, a remarkable soccer player from 2008 to 2011, stands as a prominent figure in SUU's soccer history. Scoring more goals in her career than any other Thunderbird, Brinkman's achievements are unparalleled. With exceptional records in career, points scored (46), and goals scored in a single season (6), Brinkman's legacy is one of determination and excellence. She also ranks second in points scored in a season (16 in 18 games) and third in career assists (8).

Marci Pratt, a remarkable softball player in 2006 and 2007, left an indelible mark on the SUU softball program. As the career leader in triples (19) and slugging percentage (.705), Pratt's power and skill were unmatched. Her accomplishments include ranking third all-time in batting average (.358) and fifth all-time in home runs (24). She holds multiple single-season records, including runs scored (55), hits (83), RBIs (58), triples (14), slugging percentage (.748), and total bases (163), all achieved during her outstanding 2006 junior season.

Sandy Bryant, an extraordinary basketball athlete, and coach from 1969 to 1974, epitomized dedication and passion. Bryant not only served the University in athletics, but spent a wonderful career in the Southern Utah Physical Education department. Her tireless contributions to the SUU basketball program have left an everlasting impact on the university's athletic history.

Southern Utah University is immensely proud to honor these exceptional individuals and teams whose contributions have shaped the legacy of our athletic program. The 2023 Hall of Fame Class embodies the spirit of excellence, sportsmanship, and dedication that defines the Thunderbird community.

The honorees will be celebrated during the September 30th Hall of Fame Game, when the Thunderbird football team takes on Central Arkansas at Eccles Coliseum.

(Story & Photo: suutbirds.com)

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