Southeast Missouri State University student publication

SEMO athletics rise to the top of the OVC in every sport

Saturday, March 11, 2023
SEMO sophomore guard Phillip Russell (1) shoots a free throw during SEMO's 92-75 win against Tennessee State on January 26 at the Show Me Center.
Photo by Isaiah Collins

Since 2019, SEMO athletics have won more than 20 OVC Championships, including both regular season championships and OVC Tournaments. Additionally, every team for SEMO has won an OVC Championship.

SEMO Athletic Director Brady Barke said this feat is rare and should not be taken for granted.

“I don't know that there are very many athletics programs in the country that can say something like that,” Barke said. “I think that's really what's most impressive to me is that we have had the ability to be successful across the board and that every one of our student athletes are able to experience that.”

There are many aspects that have led to SEMO’s impressive resumé in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) recently, starting with the coaches who have led the teams. SEMO volleyball won the OVC tournament in 2019 and 2021 as well as the regular season championship in 2021 under head coach Julie Yankus. Coach Yankus said seeing the success of coaches around her is something that gives her the drive to keep striving for results.

“We have a lot of successful, talented and driven coaches here at SEMO who have had many successes and definitely keep me motivated to try and keep up with the rest of them,” Yankus said.

Eric Crumpecker is the SEMO track and field coach, and coached the Redhawks to the 2023 OVC indoor track and field championship as well as 2021 OVC outdoor championship. Crumpecker said support from those up top is pivotal for any program that wants to achieve good results.

“It's hard to be good if you don't have the tools to be good. I'm fortunate enough to work at a place that supports what we do,” Crumpecker said. “That starts with facilities and having the financial backing.”

Yankus said the athletic departments’ and administration’s passion, starting with SEMO president Dr. Carlos Vargas, is an essential selling point to both coaches and players alike.

“The way he values athletics and understands how important it is for the university is definitely one of the reasons that the coaches stay here, and one of the reasons that I sell to recruits all the time,” Yankus said.

The Redhawks’ most recent OVC Championship, men's basketball, was one on March 4 and gave SEMO an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Barke wants the opportunity in the NCAA Tournament to shed light on both SEMO athletics and the Cape Girardeau community as a whole.

“The national spotlight that it creates and puts on our institution, on our region, is something that quite honestly, you can't buy,” Barke said. “It's an opportunity for us to be able to put this region and put this university on our back and carry that flag for the region.”