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Women’s basketball player named Academic All-District for school record third straight year

Senior Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott has been named to the 2017-18 College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District 5 Team for a school-record third-straight year. 

The two-time team captain is one of five players in program history to earn this prestigious honor and the first to achieve this feat on more than two occasions.

To be nominated, the student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) for her career. District 5 includes all schools within the states of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

Bravo-Harriott will advance to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.

Bravo-Harriott, a 5-foot-10 guard, is averaging 12.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.6 steals in 29.0 minutes per game. The two-time All-Mid-American Conference honoree ranks seventh in the league in three-point field-goals made (63), 12th in three-point field-goal percentage (.368, 63 of 171) and 20th in scoring (12.8 points per game).

A native of London, Bravo-Harriott graduated in December with a degree in communication and a minor in general business and a perfect 4.0 GPA. She is working on a master’s degree in business administration. 

She is joined on the team by Indiana’s Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill, Kent State’s Jordan Korinek and Ball State’s Carmen Grande.

Bravo-Harriott and the Rockets (17-10, 8-7 MAC) will look to continue gaining momentum for the upcoming MAC Tournament when they play Saturday, Feb. 24, at Ball State (22-4, 11-4 MAC). Tip-off time is set for 2 p.m. in Worthen Arena and will be streamed live on ESPN3.

Two former Rockets chosen to participate in 2018 NFL Scouting Combine

Former Toledo football players Logan Woodside and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi have been selected to participate in the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The combine will take place from Tuesday, Feb. 27, through Monday, March 5.

Woodside

Woodside finished his four-year Toledo career as the Rockets’ all-time leading passer, throwing for 10,514 yards. He also set the school records for touchdown passes (93) and passing efficiency (162.9). A two-time, first-team All-Mid-American Conference selection, Woodside was 29-9 as a starting quarterback. As a senior, he led the Rockets to a MAC Championship, throwing for 3,882 yards and 28 scores. He was named 2017 MAC Offensive Player of the Year and was honored with the Vern Smith Leadership Award, given annually to the league’s top player.

Adeniyi

Adeniyi, a 6-2, 248-pound defensive end, was a second-team All-MAC selection in 2017, finishing third in the MAC with 20.0 tackles for loss. In his three-year career at UT, Adeniyi racked up 115 tackles, 28.0 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks.

Toledo had three invitees to the NFL combine last year: running back Kareem Hunt, tight end Michael Roberts and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester. All three were selected in the NFL Draft. Hunt went on to lead the NFL in rushing and play in the Pro Bowl in his rookie season with Kansas City.

Rockets for Life game set for Friday as men face Central Michigan

The University of Toledo and Life Connection of Ohio will hold the second annual Rockets for Life game Friday, Feb. 23, to promote awareness for organ donation in northwest Ohio.

The Rockets host Central Michigan at Savage Arena in a 6:30 p.m. tipoff that will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network.

Before and during the game, Savage Arena will be flooded with Donate Life messages, including videos, announcements, on-court features and promotions. Fans are encouraged to join Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk, UT staff and Life Connection of Ohio volunteers by wearing green to show their support for the cause. In addition, green pompoms will be available for fans throughout the arena.

“Life Connection of Ohio is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with University of Toledo Athletics and Coach Kowalczyk for our second annual Rockets for Life event,” said Kara Steele, director of community services with Life Connection of Ohio. “The goal of Rockets for Life is to raise awareness about the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation. There are countless people touched by organ, eye and tissue donation in our community, and we look forward to honoring those who gave the gift of life and celebrating with those who received a second chance at life through this event.”

Organ donation is something that has touched Kowalczyk personally. One of his best friends, Trey Schwab, received 12 additional years of life because of a double lung transplant. Trey, who coached at the college, nd NBA levels, passed away in 2016 waiting for another transplant.

“A 19-year-old young man and his family gave Trey and 14 other people an opportunity to live,” Kowalczyk said. “I couldn’t be a bigger supporter of organ donation and the work that Life Connection of Ohio is doing. I think it’s vital that we spread the word for people to become organ donors. I certainly am a donor, and my family and all our players are as well.”

There are more than 115,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, including 3,000 Ohioans. The organ shortage continues to grow at a staggering rate, as another person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. Sadly, 20 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. The good news: One person has the power to save up to eight lives through organ donation and heal 50 more through tissue donation.

Life Connection of Ohio is the nonprofit organization that has promoted and facilitated organ donation in northwest and west central Ohio for more than 25 years. Last year, Life Connection of Ohio coordinated the recovery of organs from 64 donors, providing 178 life-saving transplants.

For more information or to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, visit lifeconnectionofohio.org.

Tickets for the game are available for the special price of $10 if purchased prior to game day with the promo code RFL. For tickets, visit utrockets.com, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), or stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office.

Inaugural Rockets’ Wine Night set for Feb. 21

The University of Toledo will host the inaugural Rockets’ Wine Night at Savage Arena prior to the women’s basketball game vs. Eastern Michigan Wednesday, Feb. 21.

Heidelberg Distributing will feature 12 of its most popular wines in the Fetterman Practice Gym beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Tipoff for the basketball game is 7 p.m.

Cost for the inaugural event is $30 and includes a game ticket, 12 wine samples, and appetizers. Tickets to the event are $20 for fans who have already purchased their game tickets. The cost for designated drivers is $20 and includes game ticket and appetizers with soft drinks.

This event is for fans 21 and older.

All attendees will be required to show a valid photo ID upon entry. No refunds or exchanges will be provided for failure to provide ID or failure to attend.

Attendees can redeem their event voucher at the door of the Fetterman Practice Gym from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for access to the pre-game event.

To order tickets for Rockets’ Wine Night, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), go online at utrockets.com, or stop by the UT Ticket Office at Savage Arena.

Miles to go: UT master’s student/former basketball star ‘Running Home’ in Sahara marathon

Serendipity.

It’s the perfect word to describe the fortuitous series of incidents that propelled Inma Zanoguera, a University of Toledo master’s student and former basketball player, to begin a journey to find her roots and connect to a family history she only recently discovered.

Inma Zanoguera jogged on the UT track to train for a marathon in the Sahara Desert.

Later this month, Zanoguera will travel to Africa, a continent she’s never visited, to do something she’s never done before — run a marathon.

The race won’t be just a physical challenge for 24-year-old Zanoguera. It will be an emotional and spiritual one as well.

When she was 3 years old, Zanoguera and her two older siblings were adopted by a family in Mallorca, Spain. While she was growing up, Zanoguera knew nothing of her biological family’s origins. She never asked.

Inma Zanoguera was a three-time all-Mid-American Conference selection who helped Toledo win 88 games in four seasons from 2011 to 2015.

At 17, she came to UT to study communication and business and play basketball. She graduated in 2015 and played basketball professionally in Europe. While in London in 2016, her sister sent her a picture of a document that she’d just found about her adoption.

That single piece of paper changed everything.

“My sister must have known I was ready for the answers,” Zanoguera said.

Zanoguera knew that her biological mother had died, but not much else. All the questions that she’d been holding inside for 20 years spilled out.

She pored over the adoption document. She discovered that she and her mother shared the same name. That her mom came from Laayoune, a city in Western Sahara, a place Zanoguera had never heard of.

The information stirred something in her, Zanoguera said, and she scoured the Internet for hours to learn about the region.

Zanoguera’s mother was a Sahrawi, a people who lived in the western Sahara Desert in northern Africa. In 1975-76, during the Western Sahara War, Sahrawis fled invading Moroccan soldiers.

Zanogeura’s mother was lucky enough to find safe haven in Spain. Most Sahrawi ended up in refugee camps in Algeria.

Forty years later, they’re still there, relying on international aid to live. The Western Sahara today is listed by the United Nations as a non-self-governing territory. It’s claimed by both Morocco and the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi group fighting for independence.

Last year, Zanoguera returned to Toledo to pursue a master’s degree in English as a second language. She started running to keep in shape and after finishing a half marathon, she knew she was ready for more. That’s when inspiration struck.

Zanoguera (photo by Katie Midgley)

In her hours spent Googling her mother’s homeland, she had read about the Sahara Marathon. Participants run a route connecting three refugee camps in Algeria that are home to more than 100,000 Sahrawi refugees. They stay with refugee families.

It all came together in her mind, Zanoguera said.

“All these coincidences seemed to be leading to that one goal,” she said. “I just knew that I had to go.”

Zanoguera wanted to meet the refugees. But for a stroke of luck, her mother could have been one of them. She wanted to see what their life is like, to help them if she could. Even more, she wanted to bring light to the injustices they’ve suffered.

It’s a story most Americans know nothing about. Zanoguera hoped to change that.

Girouard

A chance meeting with Canadian filmmaker Michelle-Andrea Girouard — yet another coincidence — led to the pair’s collaboration on a documentary about Zanoguera’s journey. They started a crowdfunding effort to raise money for the film, which they call “Running Home.” Twenty percent of donations will go directly to refugees in the camps.

Zanoguera said the UT community has been “overwhelmingly supportive,” contributing financially to the project.

She credits her UT basketball career with helping her grow into the kind of person that doesn’t see limitations. All the lessons that a student-athlete learns — going to practice when you don’t feel like it, coming back from a 20-point deficit — helped shape her.

She recalled conversations about life, not basketball, with her mentor and coach, Tricia Cullop.

“[Coach Cullop] has this open side of her that dreams really big,” Zanoguera said. “Life is short, and if there’s something that matters to you, there’s nothing that’s more important. I grew into somebody that sees something and believes she can do it.”

While she’s excited about her upcoming trip, Zanoguera said she’s scared, too. She’s never been to Africa or run a marathon, let alone in a desert.

“It’s difficult and unknown,” she said. “But at the same time, I’m not scared because I trust that this is the right path right now.”

If you’d like to see a video about Zanoguera’s journey or donate, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/running-home-sports#/.

Women’s golf team wins Battle at Boulder Creek

Junior Pinyada Kuvanun won her first tournament as a collegian to help Toledo take its first tournament of the season with a 13-stroke victory in the Battle at Boulder Creek.

The Rockets carded a team total of 50-over par 914 (313-298-303) in the nine-team tournament that was played at the par-72, 6,280-yard Boulder Creek Golf Club in Boulder City, Nev.

The Rockets posed for a photo after their victory at the Battle at Boulder Creek.

Kuvanun finished five strokes ahead of her nearest competitor after firing a two-under par 70 en route to a 54-hole stroke total of four-over par 220 (77-73-70). Junior Pimchanok Kawil also posted a top five showing for the Rockets by tying for fifth place at 12-over par 228 (74-77-77).

Sophomore Saranlak Tumfong tied for ninth place at 16-over par 232 (80-74-78), while junior Natcha Daengpiem tied for 16th at 18-over par 234 (82-74-78).

Rounding out the Rocket lineup was junior Hannah Kochendoerfer tied for 36th place at 26-over par 242 (83-80-79).

Fellow Mid-American Conference member Northern Illinois placed second with a team score of 63-over par 927 (316-298-313).

The Rockets will return to action on Monday and Tuesday, March 5-6, at the University of North of Florida Collegiate in Jacksonville.

Women’s golf coach steps down

Nicole Hollingsworth announced today that she will be stepping down from her position as women’s golf coach at The University of Toledo to pursue other opportunities.

She had served as the women’s golf coach at UT since 2003.

Hollingsworth

“I am proud of the program we developed at The University of Toledo over the past 15 years,” Hollingsworth said. “The women’s golf program has excelled in the classroom and on the golf course, and I am very pleased with and thankful for those accomplishments.”

“We thank Nicole for her service and dedication to our women’s golf program,” Vice President and Director of Athletics Mike O’Brien said. “We wish her well in her future endeavors.”

O’Brien said Senior Associate Athletic Director Kelly Andrews will supervise the program and travel with the team to its tournaments until a new head coach is hired. Graduate assistant Sathika Ruenreong will continue helping with the program.

The search for a new coach will begin soon, O’Brien said, adding that the University does not anticipate hiring a coach until after the 2017-18 golf season concludes later this spring.

Hollingsworth served 15 years as the program’s head coach. Her teams finished in second place at the Mid-American Conference Championships in 2013, 2014 and 2016. She was named MAC Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2016.

Toledo to hold ‘Rockets for the Cure’ Feb. 17

The Toledo women’s basketball team will hold its 12th annual “Rockets for the Cure” Saturday, Feb. 17, as the Midnight Blue and Gold play Western Michigan at 2 p.m. in Savage Arena.

The Mid-American Conference West Division showdown will help benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Northwest Ohio, The University of Toledo Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center, and the UT Center for Health and Successful Living.

Fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of cancer research.

The goal of “Rockets for the Cure” is to provide cancer education to the community, give encouragement to the survivors fighting now and their families, celebrate the survivors who have won the fight, remember the ones who were less fortunate, and pack Savage Arena with 5,000 or more Rocket fans in pink.

Tickets — $14 for adults and $7 for youth — are on sale and can be purchased online at utrockets.com, by calling 419.530.GOLD (4653) or at the UT Ticket Office.

Fans can receive a discount and designate their support with promo codes:

• SGK: General admission tickets may be purchased for $10 with a portion of every ticket sale donated to the Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio.

• DANA: General admission tickets may be purchased for $10 with a portion of every ticket sale donated to The University of Toledo Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center.

• CHSL: General admission tickets may be purchased at $10 with a portion of every ticket sale donated to The University of Toledo Center for Health and Successful Living.

In addition, groups of 15 or more may purchase tickets at the group rate of $8 per ticket prior to game day. The ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

From when the doors open at 12:30 p.m. until the end of halftime, fans can take part in a silent auction on the West Concourse. All proceeds from the silent auction will benefit Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio, the UT Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center, and the UT Center for Health and Successful Living.

The 2017 MAC Champions will again wear pink uniforms for the game. Guest emcee Chrys Peterson and the Rockets will hold a live jersey auction immediately following the contest. All proceeds from the live auction will benefit Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio and the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center.

Last season, the Rockets raised $10,488 for cancer research, marking the eighth straight season they collected at least $10,000. In addition, nine of UT’s uniforms auctioned after the game went for more than $500, including a high of $700 for junior Kaayla McIntyre and sophomore Mariella Santucci.

Toledo adds 10 new signees to MAC’s No. 1 football recruiting class

UT Head Football Coach Jason Candle announced yesterday the Rockets have added 10 student-athletes to their 2018 football recruiting class.

The signees join 18 players who inked with UT in December during the early signing-period for a total of 28 newcomers.

Toledo’s class is ranked No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference by 247 Sports and Scout.com, the second consecutive year the Rockets have nabbed the top class in the MAC according to those scouting services.

Candle said he feels this class will be a great addition to the Toledo football program, which won 11 games and a MAC Championship in 2017.

“We’re always going to address the needs of our program,” said Candle, who was named the 2017 MAC Coach of the Year. “But we also are looking for young men with good character who are committed to the excellence that is necessary to be successful in the classroom. We want guys who love football and all the preparation that goes into being a great team. I feel like all the young men in this class will fit into the culture of our program.

“Coming off a championship season, there are a lot of positive things happening in our program. Our job is to make sure we protect the culture of our locker room and bring in good people who are only going to enhance it.”

Candle added the 2018 recruiting class will help to address the future needs of his team.

“Our first priority was to address the line of scrimmage. It’s a heavy class on the offensive and defensive line. That’s an area that always gets addressed after every season. That’s where the game is won, in the trenches. If you can’t control the line of scrimmage, you’re probably not going to control the outcome of the game.

“After that, it comes down to quarterback play. I think we signed two really good quarterbacks, two players who will have really bright futures at Toledo. Beyond that, you need really good athletes at linebacker, in the secondary, at receiver and in the backfield. Those are all areas where we solidified ourselves.

“At the end of the day, all of these guys will have a chance to make an impact in our program.”

This is the third recruiting class for Candle as head coach. His 2017 class was ranked No. 1 in the MAC by all major recruiting services, and his 2016 class was ranked No. 2 in the MAC by 247 Sports.

Before taking over as UT’s head coach in December 2015, Candle had been an assistant on the Rockets’ staff since 2009. In 2010, Candle was named one of the top recruiters in the nation by Rivals, the only coach from the MAC to make the list that season. He was named Mid-American Conference Recruiter of the Year in both 2011 and 2012 by Scout.com.

Candle and his staff signed players from 12 different states, and 12 of the future Rockets are from Ohio and Michigan. The Rockets once again tapped Florida, hauling in four signees from the talent-rich Sunshine State. The remaining recruits hail from all over the map: California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Read more about the recruits here and watch video here.

Craft Beer Night set for Feb. 13 men’s basketball game

The University will host its second annual UT Craft Beer Night at Savage Arena prior to the men’s basketball game vs. Ohio Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Treu House of Munch will feature 12 of its most popular craft beers in the Fetterman Practice Gym beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tipoff for the basketball game is at 7 p.m.

Cost for the event is $35 and includes a game ticket, 12 three-ounce beer samples, and delicious appetizers. Tickets to the event are $25 for fans who have already purchased their game tickets. The cost for designated drivers is $25 and includes game ticket and appetizers with soft drinks.

This event is only for fans 21 and older.

All attendees will be required to show a valid photo ID upon entry. No refunds or exchanges will be provided for failure to provide ID or failure to attend.

Attendees can redeem their event voucher at the door of the Fetterman Gym from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for access to the pregame event.

The beer lineup, which is subject to change:

• Breckenbridge Brewery — Avalanche;

• Elysian Brewing — Space Dust;

• Kona Brewing Co. — Big Wave;

• Latitude 42 — Red Beard;

• Maumee Bay Brewing — Glasshopper IPA and #fakejuice;

• Platform Beer Co. — New Cleveland;

• Saugatuck Brewing Co. — Oak Wizard;

• Sweetwater — Going Coastal;

• 10 Barrel Brewing —Pray for Snow;

• Uncle John’s — Apple Cherry; and

• Wild Ohio Brewing — Blood Orange.

To order tickets for Craft Beer Night, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), go online at utrockets.com, or stop by the UT Ticket Office at Savage Arena.