RUSSELLVILLE — Harding’s Bryce Bray and Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Hailey Tucker were named the Great American Conference Athletes of the Year.
Bray, the first Harding athlete to receive the honor, is the second football player to claim the Male Athlete of the Year award, joining former Henderson State quarterback Kevin Rodgers who won the award for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 athletic years. He also was on the Google Cloud All-District Football Team in 2016 and was on the GAC All-Academic team three straight years.
Bray also won the Rimington Award as the top Division II center and earned First Team All-America honors, and he is the fourth player in program history to earn all-conference honors in all four seasons. He contributed to the Bisons’ most successful four-year run in school history as they won 40 of the program-record 50 games he started, and they qualified for the playoffs in each of his final three seasons, reaching 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 and led the nation in time of possession. The Bisons offense ranked either first or second in Division II in rushing yards per game in each of his four seasons.
Other nominees for the male award included HSU senior Cameron McRae, OBU senior Blain Hickman, Arkansas-Monticello senior Cole Sears, Arkansas Tech senior Dylan McDearmon, East Central senior Larry Filer, NWOSU senior Johnnuelle Ponce, Oklahoma Baptist junior Ramon Enriquez, Southeastern Oklahoma State senior Zach James, Southern Arkansas senior Ka’Ronce Higgins, Southern Nazarene senior Noah Starkey and SWOSU senior Alex Pimentel.
Tucker became the league’s second basketball player to earn the women’s award, joining ATU’s Roselis Silva who won the award in 2012-13. She finished her career by leading the Lady Bulldogs to a second-straight GAC regular-season title, third GAC crown and a postseason run that saw the team in the National Championship game.
She became the GAC’s first 2,000-point scorer while 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 and finished her career as the 18th-most prolific scorer in Division II history.
Tucker and the Lady Bulldogs enjoyed the most successful season in conference history with the league’s first undefeated conference season while shattering 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 while earning a spot on 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 women’s award included OBU senior Stormi Leonard, HSU junior Courtney Bolf, UAM junior Leah Rowe, ATU senior Megan Goodnight, East Central junior Anna Mora, Harding senior Zoe Hardin, NWOSU sophomore Bailey Brown, Oklahoma Baptist senior Leah Molter, SEOSU junior Katie Webb, SAU junior Elisa Favela and Southern Nazarene junior Mahina Sauer.
Dickerson competes at Senior Games
Hot Springs resident Maxine N. Dickerson competed last month in the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, N.M.
She ended up with a personal best in the javelin, discus and shot put. She also expressed her thanks to the community for its emotional and financial support.
Dickerson is aiming to compete once again in the 2021 National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.