From APR to baseball, here are a fresh batch of "David's Appetizers," assorted info, musings and observations on the sports scene:
UCA'S RISING APR
The official results will not be released until next year because the full data won't be available until the end of summer because of summer school, but initial indications are that University of Central Arkansas athletics are making significant progress on the Academic Progress Rate (APR), a major measuring stick for evaluating the success of college programs.
Without going into the complicated formula of APR, which relates to graduation rates and retention, the score Division I programs have to reach is 925. Any sport or program falling below 900 is subject to sanctions.
This year's data, because of summer school, will not be complete until August and will not be officially released until next year. However, from the current figures Brad Teague, UCA athletic director, is monitoring, all men's programs are above 950 and only one women's program is below 970 (1000 is a perfect score).
Men's track, which incurred a sanction last year for falling below 900 in the first year the program was revived, now stands at 960.
"The first year, coach (Richard) Martin was just trying to find bodies to fill a team," Teague said. "He's learned the type of athletes he needs and how to recruit to that."
Chris Curry, University of Arkansas assistant baseball coach, is looking forward to the Razorbacks' trip to Omaha for the College World Series for a couple of reasons.
One is obvious. The Hogs are playing for the national title.
Another is a reunion with some key roots of his baseball career. The head coach of Southern Miss, also in the eight-team field, is Corky Palmer. The associate head coach for the Golden Eagles in Scott Berry. Palmer and Berry formed the baseball staff at Meridian Community College in Mississippi when Curry played there. Berry was the primary recruiter in Curry's signing with Meridian out of Conway High School.
"Coach Berry at Meridan and coach (Noel) Boucher at Conway were the main coaches responsible for my fundamental knowledge of the game," Curry said. "I'm really looking forward to seeing coach Palmer and coach Berry again. Any team they coach is going to be a solid fundamental baseball team. And when you get a team from a mid-major school into the College World Series, you've done a great coaching job."
THE FSU FANS
From his experience in the Tallahassee Super Regional, Curry says that Florida State fans are some of the best baseball fans he has encountered.
He's encountered a lot of fans this year as first-baseball coach for the Razorbacks.
"I never got a bit of razzing from the Florida State fans, and I'm used to that and it doesn't bother me," Curry said. "They are some of the most knowledgeable fans I've been around. They know the game. They know when to cheer. They cheer good plays on either side. They're very knowledgeable and good fans from the student section to the older adult section."
GOOD CONWAY VIBES
It's been a good baseball season for coaches with ties to Conway baseball. Curry, a former star for the Wampus Cats, will be in the College World Series in his first year as assistant coach of the Razorbacks. R.J. Thomas, a former batterymate of Curry's at Conway High, led Hendrix to a Cinderella season, and the Warriors went undefeated in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball tournament to win the program's first title and give the Warriors their first appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs. Assisting Thomas is another former CHS star, Jay Mattox.
TRACK HALL OF FAME
It seems every year someone with Conway or University of Central Arkansas connections go into the Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame. Dick Hendrickson and Ernie Miller of Conway were among the latest group that was inducted last weekend.
Hendrickson, an outstanding track athlete at Cabot High School, anchored three relay teams in helping UCA (then Arkansas State Teachers College) to three conference championships. As an administrator at El Dorado and North Little Rock, he helped set up the Oil Belt Relays, the Wildcat Relays and the Charger Relays. He'll also be inducted into the UCA Sports Hall of Honor this fall.
Miller won four letters at ATSC as a sprinter/hurdler, helping the Bears to four straight AIC titles and record-setting efforts in the 400, 800 and sprint medley relay teams. He was a member of 440 relay teams that placed in NAIA national meets in 1961 and 1963. For 30 years, he's been a starter and held field judge at many meets in Arkansas.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)