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The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has been a staple within the state capital since its inception as Little Rock Junior College in 1927. In 1949 the Trojans won the Junior College National Championship at the Junior Rose Bowl. When the college merged with the University of Arkansas in 1969, it opened more opportunities for UA Little Rock athletes to compete at the highest collegiate level. It’s time to meet four of the Little Rock Trojan record holders.
When Emma Dahl joined the Trojan Women’s Track & Field team in 2012, it was the first time she’d ever been to the U.S. Dahl ran for a large club in Sweden and decided to pursue running for an American university at the urging of her coach, who had attended college in the U.S. Even though everything else about her move to the U.S. was new to her, running was not. Emma Dahl quickly revealed how good she was at both distance running and the steeplechase. As a freshman, she ran a quick 3000-meter race in indoor track, good enough for the 8th spot on the top ten in program history. She then finished second in the steeplechase at the Sun Belt Championship.
After a fast start, Dahl’s career hit a slight snag as she battled anemia that left her fatigued. Despite battling health issues, she still qualified for the NCAA West Regional her sophomore season. By her junior season, Dahl had overcome the exhaustion and excelled, topping off a great indoor season that saw her win the mile and the 3K steeplechase and become the 2015 Most Outstanding Track Athlete.
Her senior season, Dahl again battled anemia and took time off from indoor track to be able to compete in the outdoor competition. She ran the 3K steeplechase at the Sun Belt Championship and qualified to run at the NCAA West Regional again. Though she ultimately didn’t finish high enough at the regional to continue at the national level, Emma Dahl wrapped up her time as a Trojan with numerous records. She is first in the books in the 6000-meter race and third in the 5000-meter run, both cross-country races. Dahl owns the 5000-meter record in indoor track and is second in the 3000-meter run. She’s also second in the steeplechase and appears in the top ten of several other events, making her one of the Trojans’ best runners in recent history.
If you glance through Trojan basketball history, you’ll see one name crop up again and again. Derek Fisher grew up in Little Rock, so by the time he hit the floor for the Trojans, he was already well-known. Fisher led Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School to a state championship and was named a McDonald’s All-American. Expectations were high, but the versatile, hardworking point guard didn’t disappoint. As a true freshman, he started 22 games, averaging 7.2 points a game. His sophomore season, Fisher started all 28 games and upped his scoring average to 10.1 points per game and had 102 assists. After two seasons as a Trojan, he came into his junior year ready to play.
The 1994-95 Trojan basketball season saw the team reach 17 wins. Fisher came alive this season, seeing an average of 34.7 minutes of playing time every game. He made 130 free throws, 124 assists and 44 steals. He also averaged a college career high of 17.7 points per game, with 479 points on the season. Fisher was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference team that year for his efforts. Though he had been a great player for the Trojans, his best was yet to come. As a senior, Fisher stepped into a greater leadership role and ran with it. The 1995-96 season the Trojans scrapped into a tie for 1st in the Sun Belt Conference with a record season of 23 wins.
Fisher started all 30 games his senior year and played 1041 minutes, the most of anyone on the team. He totaled 437 points and 56 steals. The team earned a bid to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), and Fisher was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. With his final game in the books, Fisher found his way to 4th on the 1,000 Point-Club list with 1,393 points in his collegiate career. Fisher is also second in career steals with 189 and second in assists. He owns the top spot in career records free throws made with 399. In 1996, Derek Fisher was drafted 24th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers and he spent the next eighteen years thrilling fans the same way he did as a record-setting Little Rock Trojan.
Little Rock Trojan baseball fans don’t have to reach back too far in their memories to remember one of the sport’s standout players. Growing up in North Little Rock, Scott played high school ball for North Little Rock, where he was an All-State selection twice and had a batting average of .485 his junior year. The outfielder played in 22 games his freshman season with 13 starts. His sophomore year he steadily increased his play with 50 games played and 36 starts, with a batting average of .191.
When Ryan Scott stepped onto the field for his junior season, he was a seasoned player, ready to take things to the next level. The versatile player started all 49 games, splitting time between the outfield, first base and the designated hitter position. He led the Trojans in hits with 63 and a batting average of .328. Twenty of those hits were doubles, which tied him for the second most doubles in the conference. He also held the longest hitting streak for the 2015 season at 17 games. Scott’s success his junior year set him up for a record-breaking senior season.
In 2016, Ryan Scott became Little Rock baseball’s most memorable player as he racked up hits, broke records and garnered awards. On a season that saw the Trojans reach the Sun Belt Conference Tournament for the first time since Scott’s freshman year, the senior logged 94 hits and 66 RBIs with a batting average of .435, one of the highest in the country. He set program records in hits, RBIs, batting average, total bases and doubles. He was also named an All-American by seven different organizations, a program record. He was a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy for National Player of the Year and a finalist for the Gregg Olson Award for Breakout Player of the Year. He earned the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Award as well. Following his stellar season, Scott was drafted by the Boston Red Sox.
The Trojan Swimming and Diving team enjoyed a record-breaking season in 2018 as they shattered nine program records. Senior freestyle swimmer Tori Fryar had already enjoyed a storied career with the Trojans coming into the 2017-2018 season. As a freshman, she set three records in the freestyle competitions and proceeded to break them her sophomore year. Her junior year she earned All-Missouri Valley First Team honors, a first for the Little Rock swim program. Her senior year, Tori was integral in helping the team reach new heights. She broke school records in the 200 m, 500 m, 1000 m and 1650 m freestyle events. She was also part of the relay team that set a program record in the 800-meter freestyle relay. Tori ended her season by being named to the All Missouri Valley First Team again.
The combined efforts of Emma Doll, Courtney Goff, Imre van Huyssteen and Laura Ruiz Astorga broke the school record in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Astorga, van Huyssteen and Doll combined again on the 400 freestyle relay, along with teammate Regan Lawrence, to set a new school record. Their efforts also earned Astorga, van Huyssteen and Doll All-Missouri Valley Conference Honorable Mentions. Diver Samantha Gray became an All-Missouri Valley Conference Honorable Mention for the second time in her career and also qualified to compete at the NCAA Diving Zone D Championship for the third time in her career. With record-breaking races in 2018, the Trojan swimming and diving team left their mark all over the record books.
Whether these UALR record holders are newly crowned or have held their top spots for seasons, they exemplify the hardworking character of the Little Rock Trojans.
Photos are courtesy of the University of Arkansas Little Rock Athletic Department and used with permission.
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