In January, the Great American Conference looked back at the league’s first nine years, which began in 2011-12 with nine charter universities, and announced the all-decade teams for 13 sponsored sports. With a voting electorate consisting of league coaches, sports information directors, athletics directors, senior woman administrators and media members, seventeen former SAU student-athletes and two current Muleriders in seven sports were honored as the GAC’s best since the league’s inception nearly a decade ago.
Mulerider Football placed a department- high six players on the GAC’s All-Decade Football Team as former offensive standouts in quarterback Barrett Renner (2014-18), tight end Tanner Hudson (2014-17) and running back Mark Johnson (2011-13) were all honored in addition to former defensive stalwarts in defensive end Davondrick Lison (2015-18) and defensive back Elgin Moore (2014-17) and current SAU player Antonio Washington (2017-current). In all, the six selections combined for 19 All-GAC nods, with 11 first- team plaudits, 13 GAC Player of the week honors, 20 all-region selections and 11 All- America honors. Renner (2015 GAC Freshman of the Year) and Lison (2017 GAC Defensive Player of the Year) each earned GAC superlative honors in their careers.
Southern Arkansas Cross Country was represented by two male runners and two female runners. Mickey Hammer (2011-12), Lane Alexander (2015-18), Carli Langley (2011- 14) and Virginia Ney (2012-15) were named to the league’s Cross Country All-Decade Teams. The foursome collectively garnered 13 All-GAC honors, including eight first-team plaudits, and 14 runner of the week awards. Hammer (2012 GAC Men’s Runner of the Year) and Langley (2014 GAC Women’s Runner of the Year) received the league’s top honor for their respective sports.
The lone hardwood honoree for Southern Arkansas was former Mulerider hooper CJ Elkins (2014-19) who finished an outstanding career in Magnolia as the only basketball player in league history to receive All-GAC accolades four times. He finished seventh on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,499 points to cap a career that began with him earning GAC Freshman of the Year honors in 2015-16.
On the links, former Mulerider golfer Helle Leed, one of the program’s most decorated, was named to the GAC Women’s Golf All- Decade Team. Leed was a three-time All-GAC performer with a first-team honor in her final collegiate season of 2018. That year, Leed
became the first individual golfer in program history to qualify for the NCAA Division II Women’s National Championship.
Representing SAU Softball on the GAC All- Decade Team were a trio of All-Americans in designated player Maddie Dow (2014-17), outfielder Brooke Goad (2014-18) and current starting pitcher Victoria Taylor (2017-current). Dow (2017 GAC Player of the Year/2016-17 GAC Female Athlete of the Year), Goad (2018 GAC Player of the Year/2017-18 GAC Female Athlete of the Year), and Taylor (2018 GAC Pitcher of the Year) all earned superlative honors from the league during their notable careers and each owns a laundry list of career accolades.
There was no questioning the overall dominance of the program over the past decade as the GAC named Southern Arkansas the league’s Program of the Decade. A pair of head coaches in Corey Lyon (2012-2014) and Jason Anderson (2015-current) combined for 321 wins and since 2014, the Muleriders have claimed two GAC Regular Season Titles, a pair of GAC Tournament Titles, two NCAA Central Regional Championships in five regional appearances and have made a pair of trips to the NCAA Division II World Series. As a league member, the Mulerider Softball program owns a .659 winning percentage overall and a .674 winning percentage against GAC opponents.
For Mulerider Baseball, four former student- athletes were recognized on the GAC Baseball All-Decade Team and after a dominating first nine-years as a member of the league, Southern Arkansas was tabbed as the GAC Program of the Decade as a result of an overall winning percentage of .670 and multiple league titles since 2012.
Infielders David Harris (2013) and Jacob Richardson (2017-18), outfielder Trevor Rucker (2014-17) and starting pitcher Kenneth Tabor (2015-18) combined for ten All-GAC honors, 11 all-region accolades and six All-America selections. Harris (2013 GAC Player of the Year), Richardson (2018 GAC Player of the Year), and Rucker (2014 GAC Freshman of the Year/2017 GAC Player of the Year/2016-17 GAC Male Athlete of the Year) all received the league’s top athletic baseball honor following their senior seasons.
Since 2012, the Mulerider Baseball program, under the direction of head coaches Steve Browning (2011-2016) and Justin Pettigrew (2017-current), has recorded 297 wins which includes four GAC Regular Season Titles, five GAC Tournament Titles, and six NCAA Regional Tournament appearances. In GAC play, the Muleriders have won 168 games and own a winning percentage of .683.
For more in-depth facts and figures on each of the nineteen Muleriders and two programs honored, visit www.MuleriderAthletics.com.