RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — One year after winning the Great American Conference Men’s Track and Field Championship title, Southern Arkansas enters the 2019 outdoor season as the league favorite, the conference announced on Wednesday.
The Muleriders received four of the seven first-place votes to edge Oklahoma Baptist by a single point. SAU returns Karonce Higgins, the Most Valuable Athlete at the GAC Championships. He won a pair of events — the long jump and the 200-meter dash — placed second in the 100 and ran on both the winning 400-meter and 1600-meter relay squads. The Muleriders also bring back 2018 GAC champions in Addison Ross, who won 400, and Raymond Miller who claimed the title in the 110-meter hurdles.
The Bison garnered the remaining three first-place votes. At the 2018 GAC Championships, Saleem Fadel took first in the shot put and the hammer throw, while Spencer Lashley won the pole vault to help the Bisons take second to SAU.
Harding finished third in the balloting. The Bisons won seven events at the 2018 GAC Championships, but only one, Will Clark — the winner of the javelin — returns for 2019.
Oklahoma Christian and Rogers State tied for fourth in the poll. D’Jiron Lilley won the 100 and took second in the 200 at the GAC Championships for the Hillcats. The Eagles must replace Landon Huslig, a three-time champion in the 400 hurdles. Last year, he became the league’s first individual national champion.
East Central finished sixth, and Southern Nazarene took seventh. The Tigers’ Dilland Gardner won the discus last year.
Oklahoma Baptist will host the 2019 GAC Championships from April 18-20.