GAC hands out year-end awards

Arkansas dominated the 2012-2013 Great American Conference awards at the second annual Night of Champions at Oklahoma City’s Bricktown Events Center on Monday. Both Athlete of the Year honorees, one Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the All-Sports Trophy winner were collected by athletes and schools in the state.

<span>Henderson State University sophomore football player Kevin Rodgers and Arkansas Tech University senior basketball player Rosie Silva were named GAC Athletes of the Year, Mickey Hammer, a Southern Arkansas University senior cross country runner, was named the male Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Arkansas Tech retained the All-Sports Trophy it won last year. Only the female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Southern Nazarene University senior softball player Amy Madden, was not from Arkansas.</span>

<span>In his first full season as the Reddies’ starting quarterback, Rodgers led Henderson State to its first unbeaten and untied regular season in school history. He opened the season by winning the GAC’s Offensive Player of the Week award in each of the first three weeks. In total, he won six GAC Offensive Player of the Week honors.</span>

<span>His Week 2 performance against McKendree (Ill.) University—442 passing yards and seven touchdowns—resulted in Rodgers earning National Player of the Week honors from NCAA.com, D2Football.com and the Beyond College Sports Network. He picked up a second National Player of the Week award from Beyond College Sports Network after he threw for 466 yards and five touchdowns at Harding University in a clash featuring two nationally ranked teams.</span>

<span>Rodgers unanimously captured the 2012 GAC Offensive Player of the Year award. He threw for 4,002 yards and 41 touchdowns. He ranked second in the country in passing efficiency, third in passing yards and fourth in passing touchdowns. The Reddies became the first school since Abilene Christian University, in 2008, to average more than 50.0 points per game.</span>

<span>In addition to All-American and All-Region selections, Rodgers became the GAC’s first finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy—the award given out to NCAA Division II College Football Player of the Year. He became just the fourth sophomore since 2006 named as a finalist.</span>

<span>Through the first two years of the GAC, no woman’s basketball has scored most points, dished out more assists or accumulated more steals than Silva. She led the Golden Suns to GAC regular-season and tournament titles as she won both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards. She garnered the Defensive Player of the Year honor for a second straight year.</span>

<span>She lived up to the hype of the preseason All-America status she earned following a junior campaign where Silva averaged 13.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.7 assists and a Division II-leading 4.8 steals per game. Following the 2011-12 season, she earned First Team All-GAC and Second Team All-South Central Region honors.</span>

<span>This year, she averaged 15.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 5.1 steals. She finished second in the nation in steals per game. She earned a second team all-region honor and became the 28th player in Golden Suns history to receive an All-America honor, a third-team selection from Women’s Division II Bulletin.</span>

<span>Hammer completed a stellar four-year career at SAU as he won the individual title at the 2012 GAC cross country championships. He added the GAC Runner of the Year award and first-team All-Central Region honors. In his two years in the GAC, he won seven runner of the week awards. He leaves SAU as the record holder at both the 8- and 10-kilometer distances. Hammer received the 2013 Auburn Smith Award—the most prestigious award available to student-athletes at Southern Arkansas.</span>

<span>He graduated Cum Laude with a degree in exercise science. During his time at SAU, he earned a spot on the Dean’s List four times. He became the recipient of the distinguished Outstanding Student Award for the College of Education. Hammer received a nomination for Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.</span>

<span>In her first year in the GAC, Madden earned first-team All-GAC honors—her third-straight all-conference first-team selection—and second-team NFCA All-Central Region. She led the conference in on-base percentage and placed second in home runs, slugging percentage and RBI.</span>

<span>Madden established the Crimson Storm career records for home runs, 50, and RBI, 213, as she hit above .370 for the fourth straight year. She earned NFCA All-American honors as a sophomore and junior and garnered the Diamond Sports Catcher of the Year as a sophomore. She owns the top three single-season home run tallies in Southern Nazarene history as also set the single-season RBI record with 78 in 2012.</span>

<span>She added the Capital One Academic All-America of the Year honor—an award recognized as the most prestigious academic award in collegiate athletics. She graduated with a 4.00 GPA as a biology/chemistry major. Previously, she made the Capital One Academic All-District team following both her sophomore and junior seasons. </span>

<span>Tech finished the 2012-13 athletic season with a total of 64.5 points, four ahead of second-place Harding. The competition came down to the final weekend of the baseball season. Harding needed to sweep Arkansas Tech to overtake the Wonder Boys and claim the top spot but the Wonder Boys took two of the three games to keep hold of the all-sports trophy.</span>

<span>The Golden Suns shared first-place with East Central in women’s tennis for the program’s third top finish of the 2012-13 season. Soon after, the Wonder Boys’ golf team edged out 2012 champion Southwestern Oklahoma State University by a single stroke at the Hot Springs Country Club. Arkansas Tech added top-three regular-season finishes in baseball and softball to bolster its point total.</span>

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