Southern Arkansas University finished second in the Great American Conference All-Sports Trophy standings for the 2018-19 athletic year.
It is SAU’s highest finish ever in the trophy race. Behind an overall historic year for Mulerider athletics, 12 of the department's 14 sports combined for 80.5 total points.
Tied for sixth and with just 36.5 points following the winter update of the GAC All-Sports standings, Southern Arkansas vaulted up the rankings behind three spring sports that participated in NCAA postseason play. SAU softball (12 points) won its second-straight GAC regular season title, while Mulerider baseball (11 points) placed second as the two programs combined for 23 points.
Highlighting the surge to nearly the top of the standings was SAU women's tennis (7 points). The Lady Muleriders, in their first season of action since 2011-12, counted for just the second time in SAU's GAC All-Sports Trophy history and did so by winning the league's regular season. Additional point-scoring performances from spring programs included Mulerider men's and women's golf combining for eight points, while women's track & field garnered six points.
In the fall, the department received 14 total points from SAU's men's (5) and women's (9) cross country teams. With a third-place finish, SAU football garnered ten total points, while SAU men's basketball, behind its best NCAA season ever, received 9.5 points after tying for third-place in the regular season standings.
In all, five programs recorded nine or more points in 2018-19. It also marks the fourth-consecutive year that SAU has finished among the standings' top four and it is the sixth time since 2011-12 (inaugural year) that Mulerider athletics has recorded a top five finish.
Schools earn points toward the GAC All-Sports Trophy based upon their finish in all sports that are sponsored by six or more schools. The regular season standings determine the points in sports with a round-robin schedule. The conference championship event determines the points in sports without a regular season format. Due to each sport not having six league schools participating, men's track and field and men's Tennis do not count toward the GAC's All-Sports Trophy Standings.
Southern Arkansas in GAC All-Sports Standings
2018-19 | 2nd – 80.5 points
2017-18 | 4th – 68.5
2016-17 | 3rd – 59.5
2015-16 | 4th – 70.5
2014-15 | 6th – 47.5
2013-14 | T5th – 46.5
2012-13 | 5th – 41.5
2011-12 | 9th – 34.9
Mulerider Athletics "By the Numbers" in 2018-19
81 All-GAC honorees
40 First Team selections
36 GAC Player of the Week selections
20 All-Region players
Five GAC Distinguished Scholar-Athletes
Four Google Cloud Academic All-District selections
Two NCAA National Track & Field Championships participants
One GAC Elite Scholar-Athlete
One Google Cloud Academic All-American
Two GAC Coaches of the Year: Ben Sanders (men's golf), Greg Owen (men's and women's tennis)
One GAC Newcomer of the Year (Jalen Brooks – men's basketball)
One GAC Freshman of the Year (Angela Vargas – women's tennis)
One GAC Pitcher of the Year (Sydney Wader – softball)
Seven programs spent time nationally ranked during their respective seasons (NCAA department record)
Six programs participated in NCAA postseason play, three for the first time in program history.
Harding won the All-Sports trophy with 95 points. SAU beat Oklahoma Baptist by a half-point – 80.5 to 80.
The rest of the standings:
Arkansas Tech – 71.5
Southwestern Oklahoma – 66.5
Southern Nazarene – 65.5
Henderson State -- 63.5
Southeastern Oklahoma – 60.5
East Central – 55
Ouachita – 46.5
Arkansas-Monticello – 42.5
Northwestern Oklahoma – 39