Top 11 Arkansas Sports Stories of 2016

A collection of our most popular sports stories from 2016

Arkansan Jeff Henderson wins gold at Rio

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio was full of gold for the United States of America, but one Arkansan brought back one to the Natural State. Long jumper Jeff Henderson took home the gold with a 27' 6" long jump, making him the first American to take gold for the event since 2004.

Henderson hopes to jump for gold at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

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Ft. Smith athletic director resigns over

mascot controversy

Jim Rowland, longtime athletic director for the Fort Smith School District, stepped down after the Southside High School decided to change their mascot from the Rebels to the Mavericks.

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LR Central baseball team shows up in pink uniforms for opposing team’s coach’s wife cancer battle

The Little Rock Central High School baseball team showed up to take on West Memphis wearing pink uniforms. It was show of support for West Memphis coach’s wife who is battling cancer. The Tigers won 8-0, but West Memphis players still ended the game with hugs and high-fives.

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Little Rock Trojans upset Purdue in first round of NCAA Tournament

It took the Trojans two overtimes, but Little Rock upset Purdue 85-83 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Even though Little Rock lost in the second round to Iowa State, that first round victory will be remembered for years to come.

Everyone in Little Rock and Arkansas are rooting for the Trojans to make another appearance in 2017.

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Arkansas Travelers no longer associated with Angels

The Seattle Mariners announced in September a two-year player development contract with the Arkansas Travelers. This agreement ended a 15-year affiliation with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

In 2016, the Mariners' seven minor league affiliates combined for a 451-314 record. That was the best winning percentage in baseball.

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Former Hog Hunter Henry kicks off NFL career with a bang

The 2016 season may not have gone exactly as the Charges hoped, but a couple of their younger players have shown promise for the future. One of those players include Former Arkansas Razorback tight end Hunter Henry. Even with sharing time with the great Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry has manage to haul in 7 TDs on the year. If 2016 is any indication of his skills, we can only expect better from Henry in 2017.

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Mary Dunleavy takes a ride with NASCAR's Mark Martin

Before Arkansas native Mark Martin was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, he and Mary Dunleavy took a ride around Little Rock. The two discussed Martin's humble start on dirt tracks in Arkansas all the way up to NASCAR.

Martin also gave out some advice to aspiring drivers as well as saying while he may not have been the best driver, his work ethic is what propelled him to greatness.

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Ark. deer, elk test positive for chronic wasting disease

In 2016, Arkansas' deer and elk were hit with chronic wasting disease. The contagious neurological disease usually only affects deer, elk, and moose. A total of 132 deer and five elk have tested positive for the disease.

During the summer, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission heard proposals on ways to help slow the spread of chronic wasting disease.

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Cabot’s Lexi Weeks headed to Rio

Residents of Cabot and all of Arkansas were excited when Lexi Weeks qualified for the Rio Olympics. Weeks punched her ticket to Rio with a third place finish at the United States Olympic Trials.

Though she may not have made the finals at the Olympics, Weeks is poised to breakthrough and compete for gold in 2020.

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Lady Razorbacks take knee during national anthem before game

Before an exhibition game on November 3, the women's basketball team for the Arkansas Razorbacks took a knee during the national anthem. University of Arkansas' Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long released a statement after the incident supporting the players decision to kneel before the game.

Arkansas politicians reacted to the protest over social media. Many disagreed with the protest, but some supported the act. State Senator Alan Clark suggested placing a hold on the school's state funding after the incident. 

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Ark. State wins 5th Sun Belt Championship in 6 seasons

The Red Wolves season did not start out the way head coach Blake Anderson or the players would have hoped it did. The football team started the season 0-4 losing to Toledo, Auburn, Utah State, and even the University of Central Arkansas.

But the Red Wolves clawed their way back to the Sun Belt Championship by going 7-1 to end the season. They share the 2016 championship with Appalachian State, but the title was the college's fifth title in six years.

The Red Wolves ended their season with a 31-13 victory over the University of Central Florida at the AutoNation Cure Bowl.

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