PITTSBURGH – Point Park University’s Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame will induct four honorees for the Class of 2012, and this year’s honorees are Jesse Bender (Men’s Cross Country, 2002-06), Nathan “Sonny” Lewis (Men’s Basketball, 1978-80), Lynn Newson (Women’s Basketball, 2001-05) and Debbie Zanolli (Women’s Basketball, 1979-83).
The 2012 Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 on the Point Park campus. There will be a 5 p.m. reception and 6 p.m. dinner in Lawrence Hall.
With the induction of this year’s four honorees, there will be 41 individuals and one team enshrined. For more information about the Hall of Fame and to register for the Induction Ceremony, visit the Hall of Fame home page at www.pointpark.edu/athletics/halloffame.
The following are the bios for the Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2012:
Jesse Bender (Men’s Cross Country, 2002-06)
Jesse Bender, from Conway, Pa., was a two-time national qualifier for the NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championship and a two-time all-conference performer for the men’s cross country team from 2002-06. Also a strong student, he was a three-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete majoring in theater.
Bender had some of the best distance-running ability that Point park had ever seen to that date or since. He was regularly running the 8K (5-mile) races in the 26-minute range his last two years. He had broken into the 27-minute range as a sophomore.
Nathan “Sonny” Lewis (Men’s Basketball, 1978-80)
Nathan “Sonny” Lewis, from Pittsburgh, Pa., and Schenley High School, was one of the most talented guards ever to play for Point Park and ever to come out of the City of Pittsburgh. After an all-everything high school career at Schenley, he capped off his college career with two outstanding seasons at Point Park from 1978-80. He had started his career at Pitt.
Lewis needed just two years at Point Park to surpass the 1,000-point milestone, and he finished his Pioneers’ career with an impressive 1,023 points in 56 games. Of Point Park’s nineteen 1,000-point scorers, Lewis was the sixth-fastest to reach the milestone with an 18.3 ppg average. He finished his career sixth on the school’s all-time points list.
Lewis died in 1981 and will be inducted posthumously.
Lynn Newson (Women’s Basketball, 2001-05)
Lynn Newson, from Girard, Pa., is one of the most productive players in the history of Point Park women’s basketball. The 5-foot-10 forward is the Pioneers’ fifth-leading scorer (1,438 career points) and sixth-leading rebounder (866 career rebounds). Of the select few players ahead of her on those all-time lists, three scorers and three rebounders are past Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame inductees.
Newson led the Pioneers in scoring and rebounding all four years as a four-year starter from 2001-05. Her best season came as a senior when she averaged 17.2 ppg and 11.3 rpg as an All-American Mideast Conference First Team selection. She led the conference in rebounding that year. The outstanding senior season included 45% shooting from the field and 35% shooting from three-point range.
Debbie Zanolli (Women’s Basketball, 1979-83)
Debbie Zanolli, from Pittsburgh, Pa., and Carrick High School, was the first great player for Point Park women’s basketball. Her freshman season of 1979-80 was just the second year of women’s basketball at the school, and the 5-foot-2 guard set the standard for the early days of the program.
Zanolli, who came to Point Park after a strong career at Carrick High School, was the Pioneers’ first 1,000-point scorer. Her 1,375 career points still rank seventh in school history. Zanolli’s scoring total stayed as high as third on the Point Park charts until the mid-1990s. Her impressive point total came in just 83 career games, and her career scoring average of 16.6 ppg ranks sixth in school history.
Photo Credits: Education Comment