"It definitely was a kind of an unreal moment," he told Action News.
Hatton is a Cal commit for swim, a sport he's only started in the past year after mainly playing water polo.
"I believe they can back me up on this," he said of the 15 other student-athletes who were nominated from different high schools in the Fresno-Clovis area. "The commitment and dedication it takes to sit here is not easy but it is definitely enjoyable.
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The award was voted on by an independent panel of judges who weighed academic and athletic achievement of the 16 nominees. Last year was "joint awards due to the pandemic".
In 2020, Action News helped announce the winner of Julia Hardwick live on ABC30.
Monday night was the first in-person dinner since 2019, the year Buchanan's Brock Jones, and current Stanford Cardinal, won the award.
"Definitely might shoot him a text afterward and say what's up and get back in touch with him," Hatton said of his fellow Buchanan Bear.
One of the finalists was unable to make the dinner. Clovis North's Aidan Tran earned the Negin Award for having the highest GPA in the group (4.65) but was busy leading the Broncos golf team to another D-I Central Section golf championship down in Bakersfield.
Tran was the overall winner at Rio Bravo Golf Course thanks to a round of 70. Next year, he'll play golf at Georgia Tech.