The annual LePage/Smith awards


After narrowing it down to two teams, I had trouble choosing just one team for this award.

However, the Men’s Team of the Year award goes to Men’s cross-country. The team rocked every meet they competed in.  The lions took home third place at the MIAA Championship. Southern then went on to close the season with a second place finish at the 2012 NCAA Division II Central Regional meet and an eighth place finish at the NCAA Division II National Championships.


Women’s sports at Missouri Southern had a rough year, one team shined through. This year’s Women’s Team award goes to the women’s track and field team.  

The team took home second place at the 2013 MIAA Indoor Championships, ending the indoor season with one All-American performance. After a small break, the Lion’s jumped right into the outdoor season working through issues with weather and illness. The team is competing in the MIAA Outdoor Championships this weekend and after a last chance meet at home will send qualifying athletes to the 2013 NCAA Division II Championships.


This category was difficult to narrow down, that is until freshman lefty Payton Walker took the mound against Southwest Baptist and came one bad bounce from a no-hitter.  A feat seldom seen in baseball, and especially in the college ranks, where the pop from a bat sends the ball into the field at nearly the speed of sound.

Walker earned MIAA Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance but the statistic that set him apart from the competition even more was his 3.04 ERA.  Good enough to place Walker third in the MIAA as a freshman

Walker compiled a 5-4 record after starting seven games, completing three with no call to the bullpen necessary.  With 38 strikeouts in only 53.1 innings pitched, and only 18 earned runs allowed during his time atop the mound the Southern baseball team may have a star in the making.


After a lot of thought, this year’s Women’s Athlete of the Year award goes to Sydney Potts. Potts really showcased her versatility competing in both Volleyball and Track.

After a rough season with the volleyball team, Potts jumped right into Track winning the 800-meter while competing in the Missouri Invitational at the University of Missouri and has been on a roll since. Potts’ adaptability is worthy of recognition.


After attending track and cross country head coach Tom Rutledge’s hall of fame induction there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he earned this year’s Men’s Coach of the Year award. Rutledge has been at Southern turning Cubs into Lions for almost 25 years.

His last season as head coach Rutledge led the men’s cross country team to eighth place finish at the NCAA Division II National Championships.  Rutledge polished off the indoor season with two All-American athletes.

Jenna Smart entered her first season this year as the assistant coach and pitching coach for the softball team. Previously, Smart worked with the pitching staff at Iowa Central Community College where the pitching staff helped the team achieve a new team record with a 1.59 ERA as the team went 55-10.

After working with the Lion’s softball team for only one season, Smart has helped the girls on the base path and encouraged them to be more aggressive. She worked with the new pitchers as well as the returners. The players say they enjoy having a female perspective on the coaching staff.