With the 2021 spring athletic and academic year nearing an end, Mulerider Athletics is pleased to announce that the Fourth Annual “Mulespy Awards” is scheduled to take place at 7:30 tonight on Rip Powell Field at Wilkins Stadium. The event is free and the general public is invited to attend. Masking and social distancing guidelines will be followed.
After three successful installments of the “Mulespy Awards” from 2017-2019 and with last year’s show shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, excitement is building for the department’s fourth end-of-the-year gathering honoring its student-athletes, coaches and programs.
“After the past 12 to 14 months that we all have had to endure, we are very excited to once again honor our student-athletes in a public setting that allows for family and friends to attend,” noted SAU Director of Athletics Steve Browning. “We look forward to this show each and every year and it’s our privilege to give our student-athletes, coaches and programs a night to remember!”
Continuing with the theme modeled after popular awards shows such as the ESPYs, the “Mulespy Awards” will feature eight major award categories that will be handed out. Additionally, Outstanding Athletes and seniors from nine of the department’s 14 athletic teams as well as Athletic Training and Cheerleading will also receive special recognition throughout the evening. Among the major awards that will be presented include Male and Female Newcomer of the Year, Male and Female Comeback Player of the Year, Murphy USA Male and Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Auburn Smith Male Athlete of the Year, and Dr. Margaret Downing Female Athlete of the Year.
Murphy USA remains the title sponsor of the scholar-athlete of the year awards, further strengthening a long-standing relationship with Southern Arkansas University and its athletic department. In recent years Murphy USA has generously partnered on several facility enhancement projects at SAU that have helped cultivate the athletic facilities on campus into some of the best around the region. With a growing network of more than 1,400 retail stores in 26 states, Murphy USA serves more than 1.6 million customers each day.
Serving as the night’s special guest speaker will be Murphy USA President and CEO Andrew Clyde who assumed his role at Murphy USA in 2013 to lead its spin-off from Murphy Oil Corporation and establish the business as a strong stand-alone public company. Clyde will also present remarks on behalf of Murphy USA and its relationship with Southern Arkansas University as well as assist in the handing out of both the Murphy USA Male and Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards.
Finally, the top-two awards will be handed out in the form of the Auburn Smith Male Athlete of the Year and the Dr. Margaret Downing Female Athlete of the Year Award. Both Auburn Smith and Dr. Margaret Downing’s legacies have left indelible marks on Southern Arkansas Athletics and each had a distinct hand in where the department stands today and the tradition it has built.
Helping present awards throughout the evening will be members of SAU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Additionally, video segments will be shown throughout the event featuring SAU student-athletes, coaches and administration.
The following is a list of nominees for the awards to be presented inlcude the following:
• Male Newcomer of the Year: Sander Jans (Tennis), Bryson Johnson (Track and Field), Raul Lopez (Cross Country), Caleb Miller (Golf), Blake Rogers (Basketball), Santos Sosa (Baseball).
• Female Newcomer of the Year: Dakota Cassidy (Cross Country), Jessica Jones (Basketball), Alexis Matlock (Track and Field), Taylor Rich (Golf), Victoria White (Volleyball), Honoka Yoshimura (Tennis).
• Male Comeback Player of the Year: Tucker Burton (Baseball), Connor Harrington (Golf), Jordan Johnson (Track and Field), Desmond Jones (Football), Rob Kraus (Cross Country).
Female Comeback Player of the Year: Jaxynn Dyson (Softball), Leah Sanders (Cross Country), Lauren Smith (Volleyball), Issah Traylor (Track and Field).
• Murphy USA Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Brock Floyd (Football), Yuri Gondouin (Tennis), Connor Harrington (Golf), Matt Kortendick (Baseball), Darius Trimble (Track and Field), Donald Robinson (Cross Country), Charlie Thomas (Basketball).
• Murphy USA Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Serena Gill (Tennis), Carley Hale (Cross Country), Kamrin Hooks (Track and Field), Faith Otts (Softball), Morgan Schuster (Volleyball), Mackenzy Turner (Golf), Kylie Warren (Basketball).
• Auburn Smith Male Athlete of the Year: Austin Baker (Baseball), Sal Guli (Track and Field), Sander Jans (Tennis), Kade Johnson (Golf), Rob Kraus (Cross Country), Aaron Lucas (Basketball).
• Dr. Margaret Downing Female Athlete of the Year: Morgan Gross (Volleyball), Carley Hale (Cross Country), Rozlyne Manor (Track and Field), Lena Milosevic (Tennis), Victoria Taylor (Softball), Mackenzy Turner (Golf).