RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (GAC) - The Great American Conference released the list of nominees for the league's Male Athlete of the Year award to be presented at the GAC Night of Champions on Monday at the Bricktown Event Center in Oklahoma City.
Administrators from the 11 current members of the league will vote on the following nominees to determine the overall conference honoree. All 11 will be recognized at the Night of Champions.
Tickets to the Night of Champions are $25 per person and can be reserved by emailing GAC Assistance Commissioner Audra Tope at firstname.lastname@example.org. The GAC Sports Network will webcast the event for free at www.gacsportsnetwork.com.
UNIVERSITY OF ARK. AT MONTICELLO: Kori Forge (Basketball)
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Supportive Information: Forge became the 25th member of UAM's 1,000-point club this season and ended his two-year career at UAM with 1,046 points. He became the first player to reach the milestone in the history of the Great American Conference. He won the GAC Player of the Year honor as he led the league and ranked fourth in the Central Region in scoring at 19.7 PPG.
Quote from Arkansas-Monticello Men's Basketball Coach Allen Sharpe: "Kori has been a key component to the success of our men's basketball program during the last two years - not just on the floor, but off the floor as well. Kori is well respected by his peers, faculty and staff on our campus...He will also be forever remembered as one of the 1,000-point scorers in UAM men's basketball history and the first to do so in the history of the Great American Conference. To be able to accomplish that in just two years is incredible."
ARKANSAS TECH UNIVERSITY: Cesar Abreu (Baseball)
Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Supportive Information: Abreu earned First-Team All GAC honors and All-Central Recognition from Daktronics, ABCA and NCBWA. He made the Daktronics Honorable Mention All-America Team. He led Arkansas Tech in
batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, runs and stolen bases.
Quote from Arkansas Tech Baseball Coach David Dawson: "[Abreu's] leadership qualities stand alone. He has been a leader in every aspect of our program. On the field he brought energy every day and made those around him better. As a first team all-GAC player Cesar showed his leadership on the field with his performance and passion for the game. I have never coached a player with more enthusiasm for the game and life. He is truly a fan favorite. He works extremely hard to succeed in the classroom and shows commitment and determination at everything he does."
EAST CENTRAL UNIVERSITY: Cale Eidson (Cross Country)
Hometown: Calera, Oklahoma
Supportive Information: Eidson finished second at the 2012 GAC Cross Country Championships and led ECU to a second-straight team title. He earned All-Central Region honors and CoSIDA named him to the Academic All-District First Team. He made the USTFCCCA Individual All-Academic Team and ECU, as a team, received an All-Academic honor.
Quote from East Central Cross Country Coach Steven Sawyer: "Cale has always displayed a high degree of work ethic, ambition, and responsibility. His work ethic is above and beyond that of anyone else. His ambition to
succeed in all that he does...in the classroom or on the cross country course, is something that cannot be taught. It is that work ethic and that ambition which helped Cale lead his team to their second straight GAC title. Cale also displays a high level of responsibility that comes along with being an athlete that often goes unnoticed. His contributions...cannot and will not ever be replaced."
HARDING UNIVERSITY: Zach Roddenberry (Basketball)
Hometown: Conyers, Georgia
Supportive Information: Roddenberry led Harding to a share of the GAC regular-season title and the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament. He became Harding's career leader in field-goal percentage and he surpassed the 1,000-point mark. He earned All-Central Region honors from Daktronics and the NABC.
Quote from Harding Men's Basketball Coach Jeff Morgan: "Zach has been a great leader for us on..[and] off the floor. Zach is one of the most conscientious young people I have ever [known]. He is loved by his teammates, his fellow students all over campus and throughout the community. He has been involved in several community engagement and service opportunities most of which he was a part of and nobody even knew he was going to be involved. He will never push himself to the front at the expense of someone else. He is a model for great
sportsmanship and character."
HENDERSON STATE UNIVERSITY: Kevin Rodgers (Football)
Hometown: Rockwall, Texas
Supportive Information: Rodgers led HSU to a 10-1 record and a GAC title. He finished as a finalist for the Harlon Hill Award and unanimously claimed the GAC Offensive Player of the Year award. He threw for 4,002 yards and 41 touchdowns. He earned two national Player of the Week honors and the Beyond Sports College Network named him an All-American.
Quote from Henderson State Football Coach Scott Maxfield: "[Kevin's] character is beyond reproach. He does not cut corners, or take short cuts. His work ethic is second to none, and he does not shy away from a challenge. He spends much of his free time away from football volunteering to many worthwhile organizations and causes in our area. Academically Kevin's major is Business Finance and carries a 3.8 GPA. Kevin is a positive role model and motivator of others, and the kind of quality person that makes a positive impact on everyone [with whom he] comes in contact."
NORTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: Jonathan Freemyer (Basketball/Baseball)
Hometown: Kingwood, Texas
Supportive Information: Freemyer became the first player in GAC history to earn All-GAC honors in multiple sports. He claimed First-Team honors in basketball after he helped the Rangers tie for the best conference record. He finished third in school history in points. He transitioned to baseball and garnered Second-Team All-GAC as he hit .342 with 33 RBI in 31 games.
Quote from Northwestern Oklahoma State Basketball Coach Andrew Brown: "Jonathan is one of the best
basketball players to come through Northwestern in a very long time. He's also one of the likeable guys a person could coach. He is an outstanding teammate who is unselfish, sometimes to a fault. He genuinely cares about the people around him and is - by nature - a big teddy bear. This year, that natural feel carried over to baseball, where Jonathan excelled on the Ranger baseball team as an all-GAC selection. Being named to all-conference teams in two sports in the same year is an incredible accomplishment."
OUACHITA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY: Davis Ward (Baseball)
Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas
Supportive Information: Ward won the GAC Pitcher of the Year award as he led the GAC in ERA, 1.74, and complete games, 10. The 10 complete games ranked second in all of Division II. He finished as a semifinalist for the Tino Martinez Most Outstanding Player in Division II award. The ABCA named him to the First-Team All-Central Region.
Quote from Ouachita Baptist Baseball Coach Jeremy Haworth: "He has demonstrated leadership qualities on and off the field. Davis played a major role as our frontline pitcher this year. His success on the baseball diamond was noticed not only by his teammates, but opponents as well. Davis was selected as OBU's Most Outstanding Athlete of the Year and GAC Pitcher of the Year. He has just recently been named to the ABCA All-Central Region 1st Team and the NCBWA All-Central Region 2nd Team. He led the GAC in ERA (1.74) and also led in completed games pitched (10)."
SOUTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: Chris Roussell (Basketball)
Hometown: Edgard, Louisiana
Supportive Information: Roussell claimed the Southeastern's Men's Basketball MVP and Male Athlete of the Year awards and made the First-Team All-Great American Conference. He reached the 1,000-point mark for his career. He served as President of the Southeastern SAAC and the GAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Quote from Southeastern Oklahoma State Director of Athletes Keith Baxter: "Chris demonstrated that he can compete at a high level day in and day out. Chris is the epitome of the phrase student-athlete; he was able to balance the rigorous demands of intercollegiate athletes and academics. This [attribute] proven out by being voted First-Team All-GAC, Male Athlete of the Year and Outstanding Marketing Student 2012-13 John Massey School of Business. He graduated with a 3.68 GPA. In 25 plus years involved with intercollegiate athletics, he is truly one of the finest student-athletes I have ever been associated with."
SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY: James Baune (Baseball)
Hometown: Rockwall, Texas
Supportive Information: Baune served as the ace of a team that won the GAC regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to a sixth-straight NCAA Regional. He led the GAC in wins, 13, and strikeouts, 88. His 13 wins finished one shy off the national lead. He won the GAC Tournament MVP and earned Daktronics Third-Team All-American honors.
Quote from Southern Arkansas Baseball Coach Steve Browning: "James was one of the key ingredients to our success this year. He led the conference and region in wins and finished second in the nation with 13 wins so he obviously instilled confidence into our team. HIs day-to-¬day work ethic and preparation is impeccable. Bottom line is, when he pitched, we won!"
SOUTHERN NAZARENE UNIVERSITY: Michael Hearne (Golf)
Hometown: Bridgend, Wales
Supportive Information: Hearne played as the top golfer for Southern Nazarene all year. The sophomore did not record a single round over 76. He finished in the top three in two tournaments and in the top seven in four tournaments. He took 11th at the Great American Conference Championship. He earned Second-Team All-GAC honors.
Quote from Southern Nazarene Golf Coach Derrick Taylor: "Michael works hard in both aspects as a student-athlete. He is just as focused in the classroom as he is on the course. We're excited to see what he can do in the next two years after already two great years in the program. Michael makes good adjustments during rounds and is our most consistent player on the team."
SOUTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: Shane Martin (Baseball)
Hometown: Weatherford, Oklahoma
Supportive Information: Martin unanimously made the All-GAC First Team after posting an 11-2 record with a 2.85 ERA. He earned All-Central Region selections from the NCBWA, ABCA and Daktronics. He added a pair of GAC Pitcher of the Week honors and finished his career with a 22-9 record. He became the first MLB Draft pick to come from the GAC.
Quote from Southwestern Oklahoma State Baseball Coach Doug Saunders: "Shane is what every coach dreams of. He's a hometown kid who stayed home to play for his hometown school and he developed into a top 10 round MLB Draft pick. Shane has helped take this team to new heights these past four years and he is the epitome of what working hard and having a goal can do for you."