The fourth annual Southern Arkansas University Mulespy Awards Monday night honored top athletic performances, observed outstanding academic achievements and recognized all athletic senior.
Claiming the top two athletic honors were Mulerider senior point guard Aaron Lucas, who was named the Auburn Smith Male Athlete of the Year, and softball’s senior right-handed pitcher Victoria Taylor, who earned the Dr. Downing Female Athlete of the Year award.
The player of the year awards are given to the top Male and Female Athlete in a given year at SAU regardless of classification and that possesses conduct that has been a positive influence for good, and exemplifies the ideals of Auburn Smith and Dr. Margaret Downing; each an SAU Sports Hall of Famer that left an indelible mark on Mulerider Athletics during their storied tenures at the university.
For their outstanding academic achievement, extracurricular involvement and athletic ability, the Murphy USA Male and Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards were presented to basketball senior forward Charlie Thomas and cross country senior Carley Hale, respectively. Hale becomes the first two-time winner of the award after receiving the honor in 2018-2019.
Both student-athletes were members of the inaugural induction class of the SAU Chapter of Chi Alpha Sigma; the first, and only, national scholar-athlete society to honor four-year collegiate student-athletes who have excelled in both the classroom and in athletic competition. In all, twenty-two student-athletes were a part of the ceremony that took place following the handing out of the Murphy USA Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards.
In 2018, the Male and Female Newcomer of the Year Awards, and the Male and Female Comeback Player of the Year Awards were established. Women’s basketball junior transfer Jessica Jones and men’s tennis junior transfer Sander Jans earned the newcomers awards. For the Comeback Player of the Year, women’s track sophomore Issah Traylor and baseball junior Tucker Burton claimed the hardware.
Fifteen outstanding student-athletes and one outstanding athletic trainer were also honored, while 37 senior student-athletes were recognized and gifted a special framed letterman patch to commemorate their time as a Mulerider.
Lucas, a senior point guard from Tulsa, OK, helped engineer one of the most highly-decorated seasons in Southern Arkansas’ NCAA history both individually and from a team standpoint. He was the first GAC Men’s Basketball player to be named the league’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. He was also an Honorable Mention All-American.
Taylor, a native of Greenwood is putting the finishing touches on a storied career as one of the most dominant pitchers in both Mulerider Softball and Great American Conference history. This spring, Taylor became one of just three pitchers in GAC history to eclipse 700 career strikeouts, while also setting the GAC career records for most wins with 76 and for most shutouts with 23.
Outstanding athletes recognized included Ruston Smith (Athletic Training); Kobe Morris (Baseball); Devante Brooks (Men’s Basketball); Ariana Guinn (Women’s Basketball); Rob Kraus (Men’s Cross Country); Cecilia Quesada (Women’s Cross Country); Mattie Carter (Cheerleading); Austin Wilkerson (Football); Kade Johnson (Men’s Golf); Chelsea Chow (Women’s Golf); Sydney Wader (Softball); Marko Nikoliuk (Men’s Tennis); Lena Milosevic (Women’s Tennis); Sal Guli (Men’s Track and Field); Alexis Matlock (Women’s Track and Field); Morgan Schuster (Volleyball);
Inaugural Induction Class of the SAU Chapter of Chi Alpha Sigma were Peyton Cotten (Women’s Golf); Kylie Cowan (Softball); Dustie Cummings (Softball); Brenda Teixeira (Women’s Tennis); Olivia Faught-Graham (Women’s Golf); Brock Floyd (Football); Yuri Gondouin (Men’s Tennis); Calum Graham (Men’s Golf); Morgan Gross (Volleyball); Carley Hale (Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field); Liberty Henderson (Women’s Track & Field); Nick Impson (Baseball); Iker Brull (Men’s Tennis); Raymond Marin Garcia (Men’s Tennis); Faith Otts (Softball); Alana Perez (Volleyball); Brock Price (Football); Leah Sanders (Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field); Charlie Thomas (Men’s Basketball); Kaliyah Thompson (Women’s Track); Mackenzy Turner (Women’s Golf); Kylie Warren (Women’s Basketball);
The 2020-21 senior student-athletes were Austin Rhynes (Athletic Training); Ruston Smith (Athletic Training); Austin Baker (Baseball); Matt Kortendick (Baseball); Kobe Morris (Baseball); Zach Muldoon (Baseball); Mason Peterson (Baseball); Zach Smith (Baseball); Trey Davis (Men’s Basketball); Charlie Thomas (Men’s Basketball); Mattie Carter (Cheerleading); LaChristopher Ford (Cheerleading); Lauren Hall (Cheerleading); Maggie St.Denis (Cheerleading); Callie Tyler (Cheerleading); Sal Guli (Men’s Track & Field); Jordan Johnson (Men’s Track & Field); Donald Robinson (Men’s Cross Country); Michelle Donohue (Women’s XC/Track & Field); Legend Harris (Women’s Track & Field); Jasmine Peoples (Women’s Track & Field); Karen Rayas (Women’s XC/Track & Field); Antonio Washington (Football); Calum Graham (Men’s Golf); Kade Johnson (Men’s Golf); Peyton Cotten (Women’s Golf); Elisa Favela (Softball); Maeson Grace (Softball); Christina Hill (Softball); Yulissa Hinojosa (Softball); Faith Otts (Softball); Laina Suesue (Softball); Victoria Taylor (Softball); Sydney Wader (Softball); Morgan Gross (Volleyball); Alana Perez (Volleyball); Lauren Smith (Volleyball).