The Murray State Racers, 15 teams strong, learned Tuesday that their collective effort has brought MSU Athletics the Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner's Cup for the first time since 2008-09.
The 12 members of the OVC were tracked during the 2018-19 season by their finishes in regular season and conference tournament competition. The Racers produced a combined seven OVC championships (ties the school mark from 1990-91) and set the OVC point total of 128, according to the OVC's performance grid. MSU's 128 points set an OVC Cup record surpassing the 124.5 points Eastern Kentucky had in 2014-15. MSU's winning margin is second all-time for the award.
"Murray State University is a special place because of the people in our program; the student-athletes, coaches and administrators who work tirelessly to represent our State and Region," said MSU Director of Athletics Kevin Saal. "2018-19 marks one of the most successful in the history of our program. Seven OVC Championships, tied for the best in program history, a Top-80 ranking in the National Director's Cup per the latest release and this, the first OVC Commissioner's Cup for our program in ten years. We're all very proud to earn this accomplishment."
Not only have the Racers performed at a high level on the playing field, they have matched it in the classroom.
"Those remarkable athletic achievements come as the Racers completed the spring semester with a 3.13 GPA, our 30th consecutive semester with a department-wide GPA above a 3.0," Saal said. "We talk daily about 'The Racer Way', which is a comprehensive dedication to our core values, the student-athlete experience and broad-based competitive excellence. Congratulations to everyone in our program, our university, alumni, donors and supporters for their part in this remarkable achievement."
MSU's second "All-Sport" Commissioner's Cup win comes after the department won the title in 2008-09, the first year the league began the current points system combining men's and women's sports.
OVC member institutions are required to have four automatic counters (football, volleyball, men's & women's basketball) plus the next eight highest place finishes among remaining sports regardless of gender. The non-football playing schools count baseball as one of their four main sports. Schools that win the OVC Tournament championship in men's & women's basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, men's & women's Tennis receive one additional point added to their total points earned for that sport. There are also adjusted scoring systems for rifle, men's indoor & outdoor track and men's tennis.
The OVC Commissioner's Cup will be presented to Murray State Athletics at the OVC Awards Brunch Friday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Here is a breakdown of each Murray State sport for the 2018-19 school year.
Under Coach Mitch Stewart, the Racers' football team returned excitement and energy to Roy Stewart Stadium when they began the OVC season 4-0 for the first time since 1997. Along the way, the Racers produced five players named All-OVC and saw Quincy Williams become the Racers' highest draft pick in program history when taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round. MSU's amazing 31-0 comeback against Southeast Missouri in the home finale will be legendary for to come.
5-3 OVC record and fourth place finish, Best since 2011.
The Racers far outperformed the preseason prediction of eighth place
Five first-team All-OVC players, including Quincy Williams, Kenney Wooten, Malik Honeycutt, Steve Dawson and Gabriel Vicente, is most for MSU since 2002
Upset 19th-ranked SEMO by overcoming 31-7 halftime deficit, largest in school history, on a last second kickoff return by Malik Honeycutt
Quincy Williams becomes MSU's highest draft pick by being taken in 3rd round by Jacksonville
Malik Honeycutt named as a first-team All-American at kick returner
Williams sets school record with 78 solo tackles, his 7.1 per game go down as second best in MSU history
James Sappington named Google Cloud Academic All-District
Rookie coach Matt Lodge saw his first Racer team win 13 games total and place second in the OVC at 7-3. The Racers went on the road for the second time in school history to win the OVC Tournament with victories over Eastern Illinois and host UT Martin. Racers sent out an amazing senior group including Caroline Ashton, Katie Brooks, Cori Cain, Lauren Nosal, and Alex Steigerwald. During their four years for the MSU soccer program, they helped the Racers to a 50-16-7 record and a 32-4-1 record at Cutchin Field and also contributed three regular-season OVC titles and three OVC Tournament titles.
13-5-1 Placed second in the OVC at 7-3
2-1 victory over UT Martin gave the Racers their second consecutive OVC Tournament Title
In the last four seasons, MSU has won either the OVC regular season or tournament championship
Miyah Watford named to All-OVC 1st Team
Abby Jones garnered OVC Freshman of the Year, All-OVC 2nd Team, and OVC All-Newcomer honors
Karsyn Hasch and Rebecca Kubin named to All-OVC 2nd Team
Karsyn Hasch, Rebecca Kubin, Izzy Heckman, Joselle Morche, and Alex Steigerwald earned a spot on OVC All-Tournament Team
Alex Steigerwald named OVC Tournament MVP
Played Vanderbilt in NCAA Tournament for MSU's fourth NCAA appearance
Miyah Watford led OVC in shots (84)
Abby Jones led OVC in assists (10)
Cori Cain, Izzy Heckman, Abby Jones, and Joselle Morche earned a 4.0 GPA during the fall semester
Dave Schwepker's Racer volleyball squad posted 22 wins for the program's fifth-consecutive 20-win season. The Racers placed second in the OVC, but went on the road and won the OVC Tournament at Austin Peay. The Racers played at Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament marking MSU's fourth appearance.
22-10 Record and 13-3 OVC record for a second place finish
16-match winning streak during the year, which tied school record
OVC Tournament champions for third time in five seasons. Six total: 1989, 1992, 2003, 2014, 2016, 2018
MSU has won either the OVC regular season or tournament title in four consecutive seasons
Rachel Giustino named OVC Tournament MVP
Becca Fernandez named OVC Defensive Player of the Year
Rachel Giustino, Dacia Brown, and Becca Fernandez named All-OVC First Team
Rachel Holthaus named All-OVC Second Team
Competing in the 58th OVC Cross Country Championships, the Murray State men's cross country team finished ninth with a total team score of 253 and the Racer women finished eighth with a total team score of 213.
Senior Vince Turner led the Racers with a 37th place finish at the OVC meet, 15 spots better than last year, with a time of 25:56
Senior Rebekah Priddy had a top finish of 21st place, five spots better than her finish a year ago
Senior Ida Mutai finished 37th after placing 57th a year ago
Both MSU teams were honored as part of the 2018 NCAA Division I All-Academic Teams by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA)
Coach Matt McMahon and the MSU men's basketball team produced another amazing season included 28 wins, a pair of Ohio Valley Conference championships, and the fourth NCAA Tournament win in program history. The excitement the Racers created in the 2018-19 season thrilled Racer fans at home and in every arena they visited. The season will also be long remembered for what Ja Morant did. Only a sophomore, Morant captured the attention of the college basketball world as he ultimately was named a consensus All-America, OVC Player of the Year and probable top NBA Draft pick.
28 wins marked 10th time in 94 seasons that a Racer team posted 25 or more victories
MSU has eight 20-win seasons in the last 10
Regular season OVC champions 26th time and made 16th NCAA appearance after winning the OVC Tournament
MSU was a No. 12 seed and defeated No. 5 Marquette in the NCAA first round for the MSU's fourth all-time win in the tournament
Three players named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference Men's Basketball Team
Ja Morant and Shaq Buchanan were honored as OVC Player of the Year and OVC Defensive Player of the Year
Darnell Cowart was named to the OVC All-Newcomer Team
McMahon's last two teams (2017-18 and 2018-19) won back-to-back OVC regular season championships with an overall conference record of 32-4
MSU finished 29th in the final Associated Press Poll
MSU was ninth in the nation in scoring margin in the 2017-18 season and fifth in 2018-19
Racers have back-to-back seasons with 10 road wins
MSU has back-to-back seasons of one player being the OVC Player of the Year and the OVC Tournament MVP in Jonathan Stark and Ja Morant
Record numbers of fans flocked to the CFSB Center in the 2018-19 season, including two record-setting crowds.
(Jan. 24) – MSU hosted Belmont and had a record crowd of 8,969, besting the 2012 mark of 8,825 when the Racers hosted Saint Mary's. (March 2) The record was topped again when MSU hosted Austin Peay with a total attendance of 9,012
The Racers were part of two record-setting attendance games at the OVC Tournament in Evansville at the Ford Center
Ja Morant Notes
MSU career record for assists (532) in 46 fewer games than when Don Mann became the record holder (531) in 1989
331 assists for the MSU and OVC record single-season record and the sixth best assist season in NCAA history
808 points to set MSU single-season record
MSU's 15th different player to be named OVC Player of the Year
OVC's first Consensus All-America since 1971
Posted three triple doubles including just the ninth in NCAA Tournament play with 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds in the Racers' victory over Marquette
First player since the assist was made an official stat in 1982 to average 20 points and 10 assists for a season.
Named OVC Male Student-Athlete of the Year
Coach Rechelle Turner's team made strides in the right direction in the 2018-19 season in which they won two more games than a season ago. MSU exceeded expectations in the conference standings, finishing sixth after being picked 12th in the league's preseason poll. MSU was the sixth seed in the OVC Tournament and ended their season with a 77-56 loss to No. 3 UT Martin.
13-17 overall and 9-9 in OVC play.
Finished the season strong in winning seven of its last 10 games
Macey Turley became MSU's first Freshman of the Year since Ke'Shunan James in 2015 and followed Erica Sisk (2013) and Rebecca Remington (2002) as MSU's fourth winner of the award
Macey Turley named All-OVC Second Team and to the All-OVC Newcomer Team
Macey Turley was named OVC Freshman of the Week seven times
Macey Turley had a free throw streak of 29 in a row during the season, third longest in program history
Evelyn Adebayo was named All-OVC First Team and became the first Racer to lead the OVC in scoring and rebounding since OVC records began in the 1981-82 season
Rookie Coach Dan Skirka saw his team exceed preseason predictions when they had their best record in the OVC since 2010 and placed fifth, after they were picked ninth in the OVC Preseason Poll. The Racers became the 'Comeback Kids' during the season as they recorded 14 victories when trailing and none bigger than when they twice trailed Eastern Kentucky by six runs in one OVC weekend, only to rally and win both. At the OVC Tournament, the Racers were seeded fifth, which recalled to the best seed they had earned since 2010.
24-29 Record, 16-14 in OVC
Best MSU record in OVC play since 2010 and most wins for MSU in a single OVC season
Brock Anderson named All-OVC Second Team
Shane Burns named to OVC All-Freshman Team
Won first five OVC series' of season, including against #1 JSU and #2 Austin Peay
14 comeback victories
Coach Skirka became second MSU rookie coach to win 20 games
Skirka joins MSU and OVC Hall of Famer, Coach Johnny Reagan (1958), as MSU coaches that have won an OVC postseason game in their first season
Racers finish 4th at NCAA Championship where they produced an Elite 90 Award, two All-America winners and other recognition for Coach Alan Lollar. Prior to the NCAAs, the Racers won their fourth-straight OVC title and 14th in program history, which is tops in the conference. Coach Lollar was named OVC Coach of the Year for the seventh time.
Barbara Schläpfer named Rifle Athlete of the Year by the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association
Schläpfer finished regular season with highest smallbore average in the nation and third-best air rifle
The senior Schläpfer had the best aggregate average in the NCAA this season
Schläpfer named first-team All-American by the CRCA
Senior MacKenzie Martin earned second-team All-America honors
MSU rifle has had a student-athlete recognized as an All-American 130 times
Of 58 total MSU student-athletes that have earned All-American recognition, Schläpfer and Martin are 16th and 17th at MSU
Academically, seven of this year's 10-person squad were also recognized as CRCA Scholastic All-Americans for achieving a GPA of at least 3.20
Alathea Sellars, Eric Sloan, Shelby Huber, Meike Drewell, Dana Buesseler, Emily Fitzgerald and Anna Scheer all earned the CRCA Scholastic All-American Award for the 2018-19 academic year
Meike Drewell was named the Elite 90 award for the 2019 NCAA National Rifle Championship
Coach Lollar and senior associate athletic director Matt Kelly were honored for their continued service to the sport. Lollar was presented with the Distinguished College Coach Award, while Kelly received the Outstanding Service to Collegiate Shooting Sports
The Murray State men's golf team made Coach Eddie Hunt a very happy man when they teed it up at the OVC Championship in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in April. The Racers produced the best 54-hole scoring event in Hunt's 18 seasons as coach. MSU placed third at the OVC season-ender and have loads of momentum going into next season.
The Racers placed third at the 70th OVC Championship
MSU's 860 total score for 54 holes - best score in 18 seasons for Racer head coach Eddie Hunt
MSU's first round 285 was their best round in the event since a 284 in 2012
Avery Edwards placed fifth to become the Racers' first OVC All-Tournament finisher since Patrick Newcomb in 2013
Austin Knight was fourth in the OVC with a scoring average of 72.1
Senior Gabe Wheeler was seventh in the OVC with a scoring average of 72.6
The story of Coach Velvet Milkman's 26th MSU team will go down in history among the best of the best. It included MSU's third-straight OVC women's golf championship and Linette Holmslykke became the first player in OVC history to qualify and play in the NCAA Championship Finals.
MSU completed the three-peat - Coach Milkman was named OVC Coach of the Year
The OVC title is the 12th in the 26 season Coach Milkman has led the program
Milkman is the only coach in MSU program history after it launched in 1993
With 12 OVC championships, Coach Milkman is the all-time leader in total titles at MSU
The Racers took a five-shot lead heading into the final round and turned it into a 20-shot victory
Coach Milkman now has three instances of three in a row at the OVC Championship
The Racers' final total of 864 (4-under-par) eclipsed the 866 from Murray State's win at Hampton Cove in 2017 as the OVC record
Anna Moore is ninth OVC medalist winner in MSU history with a one-shot win over teammate Linette Holmslykke
Linette Holmslykke named OVC Golfer of the Year with seven second-place finishes and led OVC in scoring at 72.7
Senior Jane Watts played in her first OVC Championship, responded with fifth place finish
At Auburn Regional, MSU's team made its third-straight NCAA appearance and finished 18th, after being seeded 18th
Linette Holmslykke became the first player in OVC history to advance past the regional level to the NCAA Women's Golf Championship finals
Linette Holmslykke's 7-under 65 in round led to a second place finish at Auburn, only one shot behind medalist, Auston Kim of Vanderbilt
NCAA Finals in Fayetteville, Holmslykke's scored 77-76-79=232, finished 54th in field of 132 players
Linette Holmslykke one of 38 players to have three straight days of scores in the 70s
The Murray State softball team posted a 16-6 record in the OVC and their best OVC start in program history, which produced a share of second place finish. MSU's 16 conference victories was the second best mark since the program was launched in 2010. The Racers were picked ninth in the preseason predictions of the OVC, but left that thought in the dust after an amazing start to OVC play at 7-1.
Hannah James tossed first seven-inning perfect game in Racer history – 1-0 win vs Belmont (3/31)
Racer pitchers held OVC opponents to a .231 average in conference competition
Hannah James became second player in program history to be named OVC Freshman of the Year
Brenna Finck became the fourth player to join the 200-hit club (211) & set a career assist record (508)
Hannah James landed a spot on the All-OVC Second Team
Hannah James and Taylor Makowsky earned a place on the OVC All-Newcomer Team
Lillie Goetz was named to Google Cloud Academic All-District First Team
Team GPA of 3.62 in the fall semester, including six individuals with a fall GPA of 4.0
Earned the four seed (one game out of first place) at the 2019 OVC Softball Championship after being ranked ninth in the preseason poll
Coach Jorge Caetano and his fourth edition of Racer Tennis made another push for the OVC regular season title. The Racers took it all the way to the final match of the season. The Racers took it all the way to the final weekend of play and finished third. MSU was 12-9 in the 2018-19 season and have a second place and third place finish in the last two seasons.
Team finished third in the OVC with a 6-2 conference record
Held a four-match winning streak against OVC opponents
MSU is 14-3 at Bennie Purcell Courts in the last two seasons
Amina Hadzic and Sara Loncarevic teamed up to go 6-2 at No. 3 doubles in OVC play
Amina Hadzic went 7-1 at No. 3 singles in conference competition
Aarja Chakraborty posted a 7-1 OVC record at a combination of No. 4 and No. 5 singles positions
Sara Loncarevic turned in a 7-1 OVC record at a combination of No.5 and No. 6 singles positions
Sara Loncarevic and Amina Hadzic led the Racers with records of 17-2 and 16-5 respectively in overall singles matches
Claire Chang was named to the All-OVC second team
Sara Bjork, Aarja Chakraborty, Anja Loncarevic, and Hannah Rikard all posted a 4.0 GPA during the fall semester
Track & Field
In Coach Adam Kiesler's second season, the Racers finally realized a prize they've tried to get for 27 years. The Racers won MSU's first OVC Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championship since 1992. In dramatic fashion, the Racers had their first gold medal in the pole vault when senior Emily Heil and freshman Brooke Misukonis shared it. MSU had its first 1-2-3 finish in the Heptathlon and sprinter Tamdra Lawrence became the first in OVC women's history to win the 100m dash as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.
2019 OVC Outdoor Champions – first since 1992
Tamdra Lawrence – champion in 60m indoor, 200m indoor, 100m & 200m outdoor, 4x100 relay champion
Tamdra Lawrence named OVC Track Athlete of the Year and Track Athlete of the Championship
Tamdra Lawrence qualified for the NCAA Regional in the 100m
Hilary McAdam - 800m indoor and outdoor champion for wins in consecutive seasons
Destiny Carey - Outdoor Shot Put Champion, Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar
Aubrey Main - Outdoor Heptathlon champion, Jessikha Ribeiro and Ashlyn Oren were second and third
Adam Kiesler - OVC Coach of the Year