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College: Arkansas state colleges round-up

<p>OBU SPORTS INFORMATION</p><p>Ouachita Baptist receiver and former Van Buren standout Drew White hauls in a reception during the 2012 season. White could be a frequent target for quarterback Benson Jordan, who finished third in the GAC. The conference released its Coach’s Poll as preseason practices begin.<strong></strong></p>

OBU SPORTS INFORMATION

Ouachita Baptist receiver and former Van Buren standout Drew White hauls in a reception during the 2012 season. White could be a frequent target for quarterback Benson Jordan, who finished third in the GAC. The conference released its Coach’s Poll as preseason practices begin.

Football

Tech welcomes 125 to squad

With the opening of the 2013 Arkansas Tech football season just a few short weeks away, Wonder Boys head football coach Raymond Monica welcomed 125 players to campus this week for the opening of football practice. The Wonder Boys reported Aug. 13 and saw their first on-field action Aug. 16.

The Wonder Boys will have daily practices through August 27.

GAC picks Reddies to win conference

Henderson State was the unanimous choice by the coaches of the Great American Conference to repeat as football champions, released by the league office Monday.

The Reddies received 10 of the 11 possible first-place votes and 100 points total. Coaches were not permitted to vote on their own team.

The Reddies, who claimed the 2012 conference title last with a 10-0 regular-season record, return 11 all-conference selections including Offensive Player of the Year quarterback Kevin Rodgers, and Freshman of the Year linebacker Tim Llewellyn.

The Reddies, ranked No. 9 in Lindy’s Preseason Top 25 poll and No. 16 by the Sporting News, return eight starters from an offense that led Division II in scoring (50.4 points per game) and was third in total yards (516.8 yards per game) and passing yards (377.6).

Coaches predict Mulerides to finish second

Coming off of an 8-3 record and their first postseason appearance since 2003, the Southern Arkansas football team has been tabbed to finish second in the Great American Conference in 2013 as it was voted on by the league’s head football coaches and announced by the conference office on Monday.

The high preseason ranking for SAU is justified in the fact that the Muleriders return 19 starters from last year’s team, with eight players coming back to one of the country’s most prolific offenses and seven players returning to a much improved defense unit from prior years.

Last season, the Muleriders’ offense was ranked in the top-25 nationally in several statistical categories including: total offense (5th, 497.6 ypg), passing offense (12th, 310.7 ypg), passing efficiency (22nd, 151.28), sacks allowed (23rd, 1.09 spg), and scoring offense (24th, 37.1 ppg). Defensively, the Muleriders made tremendous strides in 2012 as they were ranked in the top-50 nationally in a couple statistical categories including: Rushing defense (6th, 91.36 ypg) and scoring defense (33rd, 21.6 ppg). The previous year (2011), the Mulerider defense was ranked 126th in rushing defense and 135th in scoring defense.

Coaches pick Bisons to finish third

Harding narrowly placed third after the Bisons earned their first-ever berth to the Division II playoffs following a 9-1 regular season.

The Bisons return a bulk of their offense that averaged over 33 points per game in 2012. All-American fullback Romo Westbrook averaged 6.0 yards per carry and Second-Team All-GAC wide receiver Donatella Luckett totaled nine touchdowns. The Bisons bring back four offensive linemen from a unit that ranked fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game, 320.55.

Tigers earn fourth pick

GAC coaches chose the Ouachita Baptist Tigers to finish fourth in the league

After a strong start to the 2012 season, the Tigers finished fourth with a record of 6-4 overall and 4-4 in conference play. Ouachita returns 45 lettermen this season including 10 starters on a defense that ranked third in total defense last year. Six offensive starters return to a squad that ranked second in the conference in red zone efficiency.

2012 All-GAC First Team running back Chris Rycraw returns for his senior year and looks to power the Tiger rushing attack that finished third in the GAC last season. Rycraw, the second all-time leading rusher in the GAC, finished 2012 with 990 rushing yards on 199 attempts and eight rushing touchdowns. He finished fourth in all-purpose yards with a 113.7 yard per game average.

Junior quarterback Benson Jordan will lead a Tiger passing attack that ranked third in the conference in passing efficiency. He finished 2012 with a 61.8 completion percentage, finding the end zone 10 times through the air. Likely targets Drew White of Van Buren and Jalen Jones combined for 81 catches for 870 yards and four touchdowns.

Volleyball

Lady Lions hosts Blue-White scrimmage

The UAFS volleyball team will host its annual Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the Stubblefield Center.

The scrimmage is open to the public, and admission is free. The scrimmage also will be available via webcast at http://www.uafortsmithlions.com/showcase/.

UAFS is the defending Heartland Conference regular-season champion and the two-time conference tournament champion and is coming off consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division II National Tournament.

The Lady Lions are the preseason favorites to win the conference and were the only conference team to receive votes in the recently released AVCA NCAA Division II Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll.

UAFS boasts a deep roster featuring 20 players, but only seven players return from last year’s team that won 28 matches and went undefeated in conference play.

The incoming class of 13 new players features eight freshmen, including Van Buren’s Paige Beckner, and four juniors and one senior.

Cross Country

Lions, Lady Lions begin preseason

Both the UAFS men’s and women’s cross country teams began preseason practice on Friday morning, and first-year head coaches Justin Bailey and Lauren Unger couldn’t have been much happier with the effort and intensity from their teams.

The Lions will have a roster that’s 10-runners deep and boast seven returning runners, including senior twin brothers TaBaris and TaTaris Earnest from Conway, Ark. The brothers each earned First Team All-Conference honors last season, helping lead the Lions to a third-place finish in the conference meet.

UAFS will open the season on Sept. 7 when it competes in the University of Central Oklahoma Land Run in Edmond. It will be the first of seven meets, including the conference meet.

Athletic Club

UAFS sets golf tournament

The UAFS Lions Athletic Club will host its annual golf tournament on Sept. 25 at Hardscrabble Country Club.

The annual athletics department fundraising event will begin with lunch at 11:30 a.m. and tournament play beginning with a shotgun start at 1 p.m.

Regular entry fee is $600 for a four-person team or $150 for an individual player. Premium entry fee are: $1,000, which includes a driving range sponsorship and a four-person team, or $800, which includes a hole sponsorship and a four-person team.

For more information, call 788-7687. Entry forms are available at the athletic department office inside the Stubblefield Center as well as online at www.uafortsmithlions.com under the Athletics Department tab.

All team entries include greens fees, golf cart rental, lunch, refreshments and goody bags. Mulligans also may be purchased for $20 per player or $80 per team. Hole sponsorships may also be purchased for $200.

Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the athletics department.

Prizes will be awarded for first, second, third and last place. The names of the players on the winning team will be inscribed on a perpetual plaque and displayed year-around in the Stubblefield Center.

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