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Buffalo State celebrates 2017-18 seasons at second annual Benji Awards show

BUFFALO STATE ATHLETICS

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo State Athletics held the second annual Benji Awards show on Sunday, April 29 in the Rockwell Hall Performing Arts Center, celebrating the outstanding team and individual accomplishments of the 2017-18 seasons. 
 
The event was a theater-style awards show ala the ESPY's and the Oscars.  In addition to paying tribute to the 88 seniors in the Class of 2018, Buffalo State handed out nine "Benjis" to the evening's top honorees and recognized the Golden Bengal Service Award recipient, Austin Craig and Chartwells Dining Services.

The winners and nominees for the 2018 Benjis were:
 
Male Senior Scholar-Athlete Award:
WINNER: Brody Power - Hockey

Power has a 3.92 GPA in economics and has earned Dean's List honors in all seven semesters, including a 4.0 on three occasions.  A three-year team captain, he earned second team All-SUNYAC honors as a junior and was the SUNYAC Men's Hockey Scholar Athlete of the Year this season.  The defenseman matched a school record with 106 games played and tallied 40 points on three goals and 37 assists.
 
OTHER NOMINEES: 
Kyle Hoppy – Football
Zach Nieminen – Hockey
Ian Sylves - Hockey
 
Female Senior Scholar Athlete Award:
WINNER: Erin Gehen - Hockey

Gehen has maintained a 3.86 GPA as a business major earning Dean's List honors all seven semesters including a 4.0 three times.  A team captain, she is Buffalo State's all-time leading scorer with 95 points and 54 goals and is a three-time all-conference honoree.
 
OTHER NOMINEES: 
Allie Harford – Volleyball
Caitie Horvatits - Hockey

Male First-Year Athlete of the Year:
WINNER: Reid Bibb - Hockey

Bibb led all SUNYAC freshmen in scoring and was 11th in the league with 26 points with nine goals and 17 assists in 27 games. He also led Bengals with two shorthanded goals and had two game-winning tallies.
 
OTHER NOMINEES: 
Sheldon Adams – Basketball
Cody Sikora – Track
Vadim Vasjonkin - Hockey
 
Female First-Year Athlete of the Year:
WINNER: Katie Villarini - Basketball

Villarini was the Bengals' starting point guard and averaged 7.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and added 23 steals.  She scored 16 points and had four assists in a Buffalo State upset win at Cortland in the SUNYAC Quarterfinals.
 
OTHER NOMINEES: 
Bri Gawronski – Hockey
Angela McCauley - Swimming
 
Male Athlete of the Year:
WINNER: Connor Mergler – Swimming

The senior was a two-time All-American finishing fourth in the 100 free and 7th in the 200 free at the NCAA Championships.  He was the SUNYAC Outstanding Male Swimmer of the Meet winning SUNYAC titles in the 50 free and 100 back and was third in the 100 fly.  He helped set seven school records this season.
 
OTHER NOMINEES: 
Devonte Black – Soccer
Michael Anthony Guerrera – Hockey
Robert Liebel – Track & Field
Luke Pavone – Soccer
Cody Sikora – Track & Field
Ian Sylves - Hockey
 
Female Athlete of the Year:
WINNER: Alanna Herne - Lacrosse

In 2017, Herne was second team All-Region and first team All-SUNYAC.  She led the SUNYAC in scoring with 82 points, including 33 goals and 49 assists in just 15 games played.
 
OTHER NOMINEES: 
Erin Gehen – Hockey
Ronni Kordrupel – Cross Country/Track
Liv LeBaron - Basketball
 
Hube Coyer Award (Outstanding Career):
WINNER: Connor Mergler - Swimming

Mergler finished his career as a six-time All-American – including finishing fourth in 100 free in 2016 and again in 2018.  He was also a 10-time SUNYAC Champion, two-time SUNYAC Male Swimmer of the Year and has his name on nine school records.
 
OTHER NOMINEES: 
Mike Henry – Basketball
Bart Mazzara – Football
Khalil Sommerville - Football
 
Ruth Houston Award (Outstanding Career):
WINNER: Erin Gehen - Hockey

Gehen was a three-time all-conference selection, including earning second team honors twice.  She is Buffalo State's all-time leading scorer with 54 goals, 41 assists and 95 points – all school records and also holds school records for games played with 104, shorthanded goals in a season with five, and shorthanded goals in a career with seven.
 
OTHER NOMINEES: 
Victoria Colotti – Soccer
Alanna Herne – Lacrosse
Justine Silva - Hockey
 
Team of the Year:
WINNER: Men's Soccer

Led by SUNYAC Coach of the Year Mark Howlett, the Bengals were one win shy of a school record, finishing 14-3-3 overall and advanced to the NCAA Playoffs for the first time since 1984.  They tied a school record with 11 shutouts and were ranked as high as 13th in the nation during the season.
 
OTHER NOMINEES: 
Women's Basketball
Football
Men's Hockey
Women's Hockey
Men's Swimming & Diving