Pienaar earns silver for A-State

EUGENE, Ore. — Arkansas State had two athletes competing in day one of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Wednesday with junior Roelf Pienaar earning a silver medal in the men’s long jump competition. Pienaar made his sixth career appearance at the NCAA Championships in the long jump and got off to a great start. He posted a leap of 7.93m (26-00.25) on his first attempt and was the leader heading into the final three attempts. He was unable to improve upon that mark over his next five attempts, but maintained the second place ranking. He sailed to a mark of 7.91m (25-11.50) in his first attempt of the finals, his best leap of the three jumps. Jarrion Lawson of Arkansas posted a jump of 8.13m (26-08.25) on his first attempt of the finals and improved to 8.15m (26-09.00) on his second attempt to edge out Pienaar for the crown. Jaylen Bacon made his debut on the NCAA Championships stage and earned second team All-American honors with a 12th-place finish in the 100-meter dash semifinal. Bacon ran in the first heat and finished fourth with a time of 10.31 seconds.


UAM’s player earns top honor

MONTICELLO — Corey Wood has been selected as the winner of the 2016 Josh Willingham Award, an honor given to the most valuable player at the NCAA Division II level. Wood becomes the second national player of the year award for UAM in any sport. Tina Webb was named the NAIA National Women’s Basketball Player of the Year in 1990 after leading the Blossoms to a national runner-up finish. The Josh Willingham Award, presented by Toolshed Sports, has been given annually since 2013 to D2’s most valuable player, "an individual who not only excels on the field, but in the dugout, clubhouse and practice field as well, and leads his team to national championship caliber status." Wood rewrote several portions of the UAM and Great American Conference record books with his performance on the field, while leading the Weevils to the most successful season in program history. UAM advanced to the finals of the NCAA Central Region Tournament, and finished the year with a 40-16 record, breaking multiple team records along the way. Wood also performed well in the classroom, and recently earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UAM.


Attendance increases over 150 percent

LITTLE ROCK – Little Rock saw its average home attendance rise more than 150 percent in 2015-16, the largest percentage increase in the nation according to attendance figures released by the NCAA on Wednesday. The Trojans averaged 3,750 in attendance over 14 games at the Jack Stephens Center in 2015-16, up from 1,407 in 2014-15 for an increase of 2,343 per game. The 167 percent increase ranked first in the country. Little Rock was one of just four programs to more than double its average attendance from the previous year. A 5,600-seat arena, the Jack Stephens Center’s attendance climbed above 5,000 for each of the Trojans’ final three home games. Little Rock’s home finale vs. Arkansas State drew an arena-record 5,619. Little Rock’s average attendance increase in 2015-16 (2,343) ranked fourth nationally.

Former UAM standout returns to coaching ranks

MONTICELLO — University of Arkansas at Monticello graduate and former all-conference basketball player Chelsea Johnson has returned to southeast Arkansas as the new assistant coach for the UAM women’s basketball program. Johnson began her new role at UAM in May of 2016 after serving two years as director of women’s basketball operations for Winthrop University, a NCAA Division I program in Rock Hill, S.C. As Winthrop’s director of operations, Johnson coordinated film exchange, equipment, travel arrangements and assisted with summer camps. Johnson played in 79 games and scored 909 career points at UAM from 2009-12 for an average of 11.5 points per game. As a senior, she led the Blossoms in scoring at 14.6 points per game and earned All-Great American Conference honors. She graduated from UAM with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2012. Following graduation, she worked in UAM’s Student Activities and Residence Life departments. Johnson is originally from Stafford, Texas, where she earned all-district honors in women’s basketball and volleyball playing for Elkins High School.


Tech golfer earns 2nd team honors

AUSTIN, Texas – Junior golfer Caroline Fredensborg from the Arkansas Tech Golden Suns golf team has been named to the Academic All-America Division II At-Large Second Team as announced by College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Wednesday. The Roskilde, Denmark, native made the team after earning a 4.00 grade point average in Broadcast Journalism, just one of 14 women on the list to have a perfect 4.00 GPA. Last month, Fredensborg was named to the Academic All-District First Team. Fredensborg had an incredible season in both the classroom and on the golf course. Fredensborg came away a 39th place finish at the NCAA D-II National Championships as well as earned the Elite 90 Award, the award presented to the student-athlete with the highest GPA participating at one of NCAA’s 90 championship events. Fredensborg was named to the NCAA D-II Central Region Tournament Team after placing in a tie for third as well as being named to the Great American Conference First Team to highlight a remarkable junior season for the Golden Suns golfer.


SEC Network televises A-State game

JONESBORO — The SEC Network announced Tuesday that it will televise Arkansas State’s Sept. 10 football game at Auburn, giving the Red Wolves five contests thus far for the 2016 season that have been officially tabbed for a television broadcast. A-State’s second game of the season and fourth all-time meeting with Auburn is set for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Red Wolves and Tigers first played in 2006, and this year’s contest will mark the second time over the last four seasons the two programs have faced each other. In addition to its game at Auburn, A-State has televised contests in 2016 scheduled for Sept. 16 at Utah State (CBS Sports Network), Oct. 5 against Georgia Southern (ESPN2), Nov. 3 at Georgia State (ESPNU) and Nov. 17 at Troy (ESPNU). The Red Wolves will have additional television opportunities that will be announced as they are finalized. Every Arkansas State football game has been televised the last three years and entering the 2016 season, 69 of the Red Wolves’ last 78 outings have featured a television broadcast. The 2013 season saw every A-State game televised for the first time in school history.

UAM Elite 8

Leppert throws for over 3,000 yards

MONTICELLO — University of Arkansas at Monticello senior Hunter Leppert became the second quarterback in school history to throw for at least 3,000 yards in a single season this past fall, marking the No. 7 feature on the 2015-16 UAM Sports Elite Eight. Leppert joined Cory Allred (2003-04) as the only signal callers in UAM football history to have at least 3,000 passing yards in a season. Allred did it twice, throwing for a school-record 3,606 yards in 2003 and 3,464 yards in 2004. The Minden, Las., native finished the 2015 season with 207 completions for 3,030 yards and 22 touchdowns. He had eight games with at least 200 yards, six games with at least 300 yards and two games with at least 400 yards, including his career-high of 420 yards in the regular season finale against Southern Arkansas. He tied a UAM record with two 400-yard passing games in the same season. Leppert tallied eight games with at least two passing touchdowns, and three games with at least three, including his career high of five in UAM’s homecoming victory over Southern Nazarene. In Leppert’s five-year career, including one season sidelined due to injury, he amassed 6,534 passing yards to finish in fourth place all-time at UAM. He also finishes fourth at UAM in career total offense (6,763 yards) and sixth in career touchdown passes (48). Leppert graduated from UAM this past May with bachelor’s degree in business administration.