A pair of First-Team All-Americans, Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Hailey Tucker and Harding’s Bryce Bray received the 2018-19 Great American Conference Athlete of the Year honors.
The league’s sports information directors voted on the Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards; they could not vote for their own student-athletes.
2018-19 GAC FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
SOUTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA STATE
Tucker became the second women’s basketball player to earn the GAC Female Athlete of the Year award as she matched the feat accomplished by Arkansas Tech’s Roselis Silva in 2012-13. She capped her career by leading the Lady Bulldogs to a second-straight GAC regular-season title, their third GAC Championship crown and a postseason run that went all the way to the National Championship game.
She etched her name atop the GAC record books as she became the conference’s first 2,000-point scorer in addition to setting GAC career records for made field goals and made free throws. She moved into the top five in 3-point field goals, rebounds, blocked shots and steals. She finished her career as the 18th-most prolific scorer in Division II history.
Tucker and the Lady Bulldogs enjoyed the most successful season in GAC history as they completed the league’s first undefeated conference season. They shattered the league’s record for wins in a season and consecutive wins, both at 35, and became the first GAC team to play in a National Championship game.
The two-time GAC Player of the Year earned All-America honors from the WBCA, Division II Bulletin and the D2CCA. Shat added spots in the Elite Eight and Central Regional All-Tournament Teams. Academically, she earned her second Google Cloud Academic All-America honor of her career.
Other nominees for the 2018-19 GAC Female Athlete of the Year award included Arkansas-Monticello junior Leah Rowe (Golf), Arkansas Tech senior Megan Goodnight (Softball), East Central junior Anna Mora (Cross Country/Track & Field), Harding senior Zoe Hardin (Volleyball), Henderson State junior Courtney Bolf (Volleyball), Northwestern Oklahoma State sophomore Bailey Brown (Basketball), Oklahoma Baptist senior Leah Molter (Track & Field), Ouachita senior Stormi Leonard (Volleyball), Southeastern Oklahoma State junior Katie Webb (Basketball), Southern Arkansas junior Elisa Favela (Softball) and Southern Nazarene junior Mahina Sauer (Softball).
2018-19 GAC MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Bray became the first student-athlete from Harding named a GAC Athlete of the Year. Additionally, he joined former Henderson State quarterback as the only football players to claim the Male Athlete honor.
Bray won the Rimington Award as the top center in Division II. He also claimed First Team All-America honors by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and the Don Hansen Football Committee. He became just the fourth player in program history to earn all-conference honors in all four seasons.
In his career, Bray contributed to the most successful four-year run in school history as Harding won 40 of the school-record 50 games he started in over that time. The Bisons qualified for the playoffs in each of his final three seasons. They reached the Super Region #3 final in 2016 and the national semifinals in 2017.
Harding ranked second in the country with 341.1 rushing yards per game while averaging 35.0 points per game. The Bisons led the nation in time of possession. The Harding offense ranked either first or second in Division II in rushing yards per game in each of his four seasons.
Off the course, he landed on the Google Cloud Academic All-District Football Team in 2016 and he made the league’s All-Academic team three straight years.
Other nominees for the 2018-19 GAC Male Athlete of the Year award included Arkansas-Monticello senior Cole Sears (Football), Arkansas Tech senior Dylan McDearmon (Baseball), East Central senior Larry Filer (Cross Country/Track & Field), Henderson State senior Cameron McRae (Golf), Northwestern Oklahoma State senior Johnnuelle Ponce (Baseball), Oklahoma Baptist junior Ramon Enriquez (Baseball), Ouachita senior Blain Hickman (Soccer), Southeastern Oklahoma State senior Zach James (Golf), Southern Arkansas senior Ka’Ronce Higgins (Football/Track & Field), Southern Nazarene senior Noah Starkey (Basketball) and Southwestern Oklahoma State senior Alex Pimentel (Baseball).