By Scott Goode, sports information director
What do Katy Grant, a senior social work major with plans to go to graduate school or work in the mission fields of Nicaragua or Kenya, and Connor Galloway, a junior biochemistry/molecular biology major who anticipates a career as an orthopedic surgeon, have in common besides high grade-point averages?
Both are among the top athletes on campus. Grant is reigning Gulf South Conference cross-country champion, and Galloway was leading scorer on the men’s soccer team and an All-GSC performer.
As impressive as their accomplishments are on the field and in the classroom, these two are not alone among Harding athletes. Just among fall-sports athletes, the University had 21, including Grant and Galloway, who earned Academic All-GSC honors. That number was more than twice as many as any other conference school. University of West Florida was second with 10.
Dual academic-athletic success is nothing new for Bison student athletes. Harding has had the most fall Academic All-GSC honorees every year since 2002, but 21 this year set a new high.
The University’s honorees include two men and four women cross-country runners, six football players, four men and two women soccer players, and three volleyball players. Harding was the only school with at least two honorees in each sport.
Academic All-GSC teams are selected by the Gulf South Conference sports information directors and faculty athletic representatives in a joint vote. Nominees must have an overall grade-point average of 3.20 or better on a 4.00 scale for their entire academic career and may not be freshmen or first-semester transfers. The student athlete must be a significant contributor to the squad.
The University also had a conference-best 79 student athletes on the GSC Academic Honor Roll. All student athletes with a 3.00 cumulative GPA automatically qualify for the honor roll.
Grant and Galloway both say that the toughest aspect of balancing academics and athletes comes down to one thing — time.
“Not only do you have to take time to practice,” says Grant. “As an athlete, you have to take time to eat right and get plenty of sleep. Those things also take time.”
In their athletic endeavors at Harding, both Grant and Galloway have had some surprises along the way.
Grant, a native of Mustang, Okla., and a National Merit Scholar, was a successful high school runner. She earned All-State honors in cross-country on three occasions. But even she did not expect the success she has had at Harding, earning All-GSC honors four times in cross-country and twice qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Track National Championships in the steeplechase.
“I really have to give the credit for my success to coach [Steve] Guymon,” Grant says. “When I first came I never thought I would qualify for nationals. Coach came to me and told me that if I stuck with a plan he thought I could qualify. Then it happened! Then he said, ‘You should go for the school record (in the steeplechase).’ And it happened!
“I had no idea I would ever be able to win the GSC cross-country meet,” Grant says. “Then one week before the race, he came to me and said, ‘I really think that either you or Esther [Kosgei] are going to win this race.’
“It was scary because I got sick and had a fever just a few days before the meet. Coach Guymon came to me and said that he had been praying for me and was hoping that I would be able to run. On the day of the meet, I was really calm and confident. I told myself that I was just going to do what Coach told me to, and it just happened. It was a great feeling.”
Galloway, who hails from Normal, Ill., came to Harding as a goalkeeper. When he arrived as a freshman, the Bisons had two experienced goalkeepers ahead of him.
“I played goalkeeper for my club team,” Galloway says. “But I played in the field for my high school team. It was a little more relaxed and had been a lot of fun.”
Galloway saw action in a few games as a freshman goalkeeper but was having little success.
One day Galloway mentioned to student assistant Joe Ireland that he would be interested in moving out of the goal. Ireland passed the information along to head coach Dr. Greg Harris.
“We decided to give it a shot,” says Harris. “So the day before we played Delta State, we worked him out as a field player. He looked pretty good, and we had an extra jersey. So the next day we sent him out there against Delta State, and he has not worn goalkeeper gloves since.”
Galloway had an assist in his second game on the field, a 2-0 Harding victory over University of Alabama-Huntsville. In his last two seasons he has scored 13 goals and is tied for sixth in career goals heading into his senior season.
Grant and Galloway represent the best of student athletes who set the bar high, on and off the playing field.
Name Year* Major Hometown
Philip Biwott sophomore management info. systems Eldoret, Kenya
Ryan Johnson sophomore mechanical engineering Nashville, Tenn.
Katy Grant senior social work Mustang, Okla.
Gosia Hightower graduate Spanish Wloclawek, Poland
Gladys Kimtai sophomore biology Iten, Kenya
Esther Kosgei senior nursing Iten, Kenya
Cade Caton senior health, kinesiology, coaching Garfield, Ark.
Alex Franklin senior exercise science Charlotte, N.C.
James Kee senior biochemistry/molecular biology Searcy, Ark.
Jason Thomasson senior management Daingerfield, Texas
Morgan Toline graduate management Cookeville, Tenn.
Luke Tribble junior kinesiology Searcy, Ark.
Connor Galloway junior biochemistry/molecular biology Normal, Ill.
Steve Hedeman senior management Coppell, Texas
Chad Marshall senior accounting Bowling Green, Ky.
Drew Nowlin senior exercise science Mayfield, Ky.
Minnie Guzman senior dietetics Lewisville, Texas
Hayley Withrow junior communication science Garland, Texas
Jessica Heimrich junior dietetics St. Louis, Mo.
Manuela Nesheva senior management Lukovit, Bulgaria
Emily Tate junior fashion merchandising Sachse, Texas
*Year refers to student athlete’s academic standing
The 2009-10 men’s basketball team made an unlikely run to the Gulf South Conference Tournament. The Bisons started conference play with a 1-5 record but won seven of their last eight games to earn the fourth seed from the West Division.
The team put a scare into East Division top-seed University of Alabama-Huntsville before falling 73-71 in the tournament quarterfinals.
The Bisons concluded their season with a 16-12 overall record and an 8-6 mark in the GSC West. The Henderson State University victory Jan. 4 was the 300th career victory for head coach Jeff Morgan.
Junior Kevin Brown earned Second Team All-GSC honors for the second straight season and led the Bisons in scoring with 13.8 points per game and rebounding at 6.7 rebounds per game. Sophomore Kirk Porter was second in scoring at 10.4 points per game.
Both Brown and senior Trent Morgan surpassed the 1,000-point career mark this season.
The 2009-10 women’s basketball team qualified for its fourth straight Gulf South Conference Tournament and advanced to the semifinals for the first time. The Lady Bisons concluded the campaign with a 17-12 overall record and an 8-6 mark in GSC West Division.
Senior Stacey Owens and junior Bailey St. Clair both earned Second Team All-GSC honors. Owens was the team’s leading scorer with 14.1 points per game. She finished her career fifth in Lady Bison scoring with 1,462 points. She also finished in the top 10 on Harding’s career charts in three-point field goals (5th, 143), field goals (6th, 513) and rebounds (7th, 679).
St. Clair, a transfer from Lubbock Christian University, was second on the team in scoring at 13.8 points per game and led the team with 5.9 rebounds per game. She also had 90 steals, shattering the previous Lady Bison single-season steals mark of 64. She also made 148 free throws, which tied for the fourth-most in a single season.