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All seats sold for tonight’s men’s basketball game; standing-room tickets still available for battle vs. No. 24 Buffalo

The University of Toledo announced that all seats have been sold for tonight’s men’s basketball game between Toledo and No. 24 Buffalo. However, a limited number of standing-room tickets may still be purchased.

Tipoff at Savage Arena is set for 7 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.

Standing-room tickets can be purchased while supplies last for $10 at the UT Athletic Ticket Office, online at the Toledo Rockets website, or by calling 419.530.GOLD (4653). UT Students are admitted free by presenting their valid Rocket ID card.

To ensure a positive game-day experience, fans are advised to arrive early in order to find parking and get to their seats prior to tipoff. Parking in lots 1, 2, 9, 18 and the east parking garage is included in the price of a ticket.

Tonight’s contest also will be the third annual Rockets for Life game to promote organ donation awareness. A total of 4,000 neon green Rockets for Life T-shirts will be given away at the game.

The Rockets are 20-4 overall and in first place in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division with an 8-3 league record. Buffalo is 21-3 overall and tied for first place in the MAC’s East Division with a 9-2 league mark.

Life Connection of Ohio and Rockets team up to promote organ donation awareness

The University of Toledo and Life Connection of Ohio will hold the third annual Rockets for Life game this week to promote awareness for organ donation. The Rockets host No. 24 Buffalo in Savage Arena Friday, Feb. 15, in a 7 p.m. tipoff that will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

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 neon green and navy to show their support for the cause.

In addition, 4,000 neon green Rockets for Life T-shirts sponsored by Coke, Life Connection of Ohio and the Sign Lady will be given away.

“Life Connection of Ohio is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with University of Toledo Athletics and Coach Kowalczyk for our third annual Rockets for Life event,” said Kara Steele, director of community services for 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. Schwab, who coached at the college, Continental Basketball Association and National Basketball Association 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.”

An awareness event like Rockets for Life couldn’t come at a more crucial time. Currently, there are more than 115,000 people on the national transplant waiting list; this includes 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 74 donors, providing 233 life-saving transplants. For more information or to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, visit the Life Connection of Ohio website.

Tickets for the game are available for the special price of $8 if purchased prior to game day with the promo code RFL.

For tickets, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), go to the Toledo Rockets website, or stop by the UT Ticket Office in Savage Arena.

Ohio collegiate cross country coaches recognize Rockets’ exceptional season

Junior Athena Welsh was voted Division I Female Runner of the Year, freshman Claire Steigerwald was voted Division I Freshman Female Runner of the Year, and UT Head Coach Linh Nguyen was voted Division I Women’s Coach of the Year by the Ohio collegiate cross country coaches, it was announced Feb. 7.

“We had a strong cross country season in the fall, and it’s nice that the coaches in Ohio recognized that fact,” Nguyen said. “The team worked hard and really put together a season that they can be proud of, and these awards just reinforce it.”

Welsh captured first place in three regular-season competitions. The Louisville, Ohio, native hit her personal best at the Bradley Pink Classic, posting a time of 20:36.2 to secure second. Welsh was one second off her personal record at the Mid-American Conference Championship (20:37.9) when she finished second, missing the title by a heartbreaking three seconds, and earning First-Team All-MAC honors.

At the NCAA Division I Great Lakes Regional meet, Welsh took 17th place with an NCAA qualifying time of 20:55.2. She then competed in the NCAA Cross County Championships, finishing 85th with a time of 20:59.1.

Steigerwald had a breakout season, landing second (14:22.8) in the Toledo Opener and fourth (17:47.0) in the Mel Brodt Collegiate Opener. The Gahanna, Ohio, native was the first freshman to cross the finish line at the MAC Championships, posting a personal record of 21:43.4 to finish 19th and earn Freshman of the Year honors from the MAC.

In the NCAA Division I Great Lakes Regional, Steigerwald clocked a time of 22:11.7 to take 80th place.

Nguyen coached the Rockets to three first-place finishes on the season. The Rockets had five top-five regular team finishes. In the post-season the Rockets landed second in the MAC Championships and ninth in the NCAA Regionals. Each week, the Rockets consistently placed runners in the top five at their meets.

Toledo signs No. 1 football class in MAC for third straight season

UT Head Coach Jason Candle announced yesterday the Rockets have added 20 signees and seven preferred walk-on student-athletes to the 2019 football recruiting class.

For the third straight year, UT has compiled the top recruiting class in the Mid-American Conference, according to 247 Sports.

“I am excited about the class we put together,” Candle said. “After a successful early signing period back in December, this staff did a tremendous job of putting the finishing touches on another recruiting class filled with talented football players and, more importantly, young men who fit the culture of our program.”

This is the fourth recruiting class for Candle as head coach, and the third to be ranked as best in the MAC. Toledo’s 2017 and 2018 classes also were ranked No. 1 in the conference by all major recruiting services, and his 2016 class was ranked No. 2 in the MAC by 247 Sports, and No. 3 by Rivals and Scout.com.

Candle and his staff signed players from eight different states, including 10 players from Ohio, seven from Florida, and three from both Michigan and Pennsylvania. Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi and North Carolina also were all represented.

Read more about the recruits and see videos on the Toledo Rockets’ website.

Rockets’ Wine Night set for women’s basketball game Feb. 13 vs. Ohio

The University of Toledo will host the second annual Rockets’ Wine Night at Savage Arena prior to the women’s basketball game vs. Ohio Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Heidelberg Distributing will feature 11 of its most popular wines in the Fetterman Practice Gym beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tipoff for the game is 7 p.m.

The cost for the event is $30 and includes a game ticket, 10 wine samples and appetizers. Tickets to the event are $23 for fans who have already purchased their game tickets. The cost for designated drivers is $19 and includes game ticket and appetizers with soft drinks. This event is for fans 21 and older. To purchase tickets for the event, go to the UT women’s basketball website.

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 pregame event.

Five local wines from Stoney Ridge Winery will be available and a focus of the evening. Stoney Ridge Winery is located in a country setting in the northwestern region of Ohio. The winery and vineyard was opened in 2002 by Pamela Ledyard. Her oldest son, Ryan Towne, began making their wines in 2011, and Ryan’s wife, Abby Towne, has been the winery manager since 2013. This family-run business grows more than 20 different varieties of grapes in their 13-acre vineyard. The winery is open year-round and offers live music and food on weekends.

The wine list, which is subject to change, is expected to be:

From California:

— Cupcake Moscato;

— Dark Horse Red Blend;

— Kendall-Jackson Pinot Grigio;

— Seven Daughters Cabernet;

—Bridlewood Monterey; and

— Chardonnay.

From Stoney Ridge Winery:

— Barn Dance Red;

— Barn Dance White;

— Barn Dance Blush;

— Blueberry Crisp; and

— Rhubarb.

For tickets, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), go to the Toledo Rockets website, or stop by the UT Ticket Office in Savage Arena.

Rocket Football Signing Day Show to air on ESPN3 Feb. 6

The University of Toledo will produce and air the 2019 Rocket Football Signing Day Show on ESPN3 Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 2 p.m.

Brent Balbinot, the voice of the Rockets, will host the one-hour studio show along with Toledo Head Football Coach Jason Candle and the UT coaching staff. The coaches will review the Rockets’ 2019 recruiting class and show video highlights of each signee.

Feb. 6 is the first day of the second signing period in which high school seniors are allowed to sign national letters of intent. The Rockets signed 18 recruits during the early signing period Dec. 19.

The Rockets will open the 2019 season at Kentucky Saturday, Aug. 31. The home season includes six games, including a Sept. 28 matchup with Brigham Young University.

UT employees and retirees may purchase tickets at half-price; UT students are admitted free with ID.

For season ticket information, call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

Toledo to hold annual ‘Rockets for the Cure’ Feb. 2

Toledo will hold its 13th annual “Rockets for the Cure,” presented by Kroger, Saturday, Feb. 2, as UT entertains archrival Bowling Green at 2 p.m. in Savage Arena.

The Mid-American Conference cross-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.

UT is offering free admission to the rivalry game to all breast cancer survivors and those living with metastatic breast cancer. To claim a free ticket, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), stop by the UT Ticket Office in Savage Arena, or visit the “Rockets for the Cure” ticket website.

In addition, commemorative “Rockets for the Cure” T-shirts can be purchased for $8 at the Toledo Rockets’special event website.

From when the doors open up at 12:30 p.m. until the end of halftime, fans may take part in the 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.

Toledo will once again wear special 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 UT Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center.

Last season, the Rockets raised $12,315 for cancer research, marking the ninth straight season they collected at least $10,000. In addition, four of the uniforms that were auctioned off went for at least $900, including a high of $1,200 for senior Mikaela Boyd’s jersey.

For tickets, go to the Toledo Rockets website, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), or stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office in Savage Arena. UT employees and retirees may purchase tickets at half-price; UT students are admitted free with ID.

Baby race set for women’s basketball game vs. Miami on Feb. 20

UT fans can see if their baby is the fastest crawler in northwest Ohio during an upcoming Toledo women’s basketball home game in the Toledo Rockets’ Baby Race presented by Kroger.

The race will take place during halftime of the women’s contest vs. Miami Wednesday, Feb. 20. Tip-off time for the Mid-American Conference cross-division matchup is set for 7 p.m.

A maximum of five babies, age 12 months and younger, will compete in each race with one parent at the starting line and one parent at the finish line. The winning baby will receive a $100 Kroger gift card.

Individuals need to go to the Toledo Rockets’ Baby Race website to register. Registration will close Monday, Feb. 18.

Each family selected to compete in the race will receive two free tickets and have the option to purchase additional tickets at a discounted price.

For questions, contact Adam Simpson in Atheltics at adam.simpson@utoledo.edu.

Three Rockets to play in all-star football games Jan. 19

Three former University of Toledo football standouts will play in post-season all-star games Saturday, Jan. 19.

Cody Thompson and Ka’dar Hollman will participate for the West squad in the 94th annual East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m., and the contest will be broadcast on the NFL Network.

Jon’Vea Johnson will play in the National Football League Players Association Collegiate Bowl at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif. The game will be broadcast on FS1 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

Thompson was a two-time, first-team All-Mid-American Conference wide receiver for the Rockets. He caught 181 passes for 3,312 yards and a school-record 30 touchdowns in his career. As a senior, he had 48 receptions for 647 yards and 10 TDs, and was named second-team Academic All-America. He also has been invited to attend the NFL Combine Feb. 26-March 4 in Indianapolis.

Hollman was a three-year starter at cornerback. For his career, he compiled 114 tackles, two interceptions and 27 pass breakups. As a senior, he tied for the MAC lead with 12 breakups.

Johnson, a wide receiver, was a two-time All-MAC pick, earning second-team honors in 2016 and third-team honors in 2018. For his career, he caught 123 passes for 2,224 yards and 24 TDs. This past season, Johnson had 32 receptions for 660 yards and nine scores.

Rockets earn 3.247 grade point average, second highest fall semester GPA in school history

University of Toledo student-athletes earned a combined grade point average of 3.247 in fall semester 2018. It is the second highest fall term GPA in school history and the eighth consecutive semester in which UT student-athletes have earned a semester GPA of 3.2 or higher.

Thirteen UT varsity sports compiled a team GPA of 3.0 or higher, with eight squads cracking the 3.5 mark. Women’s volleyball set the pace with a team GPA of 3.751, followed by women’s swimming and diving (3.638), women’s soccer (3.631) and women’s tennis (3.608).

“Our student-athletes have achieved a consistent level of academic excellence for which we take great pride,” said Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien. “The fact that our teams have earned a 3.2 GPA in each of the past eight semesters makes it clear that academics are very important to our student-athletes.

“Congratulations to our student-athletes and to all the dedicated people who support their efforts — our Student-Athlete Academic Services staff, our faculty and our coaches,” O’Brien said. “I would also like to extend additional recognition to Head Coach Jason Oliver and our women’s volleyball program for recording the highest team GPA last semester.”

This past semester, 46 UT student-athletes earned President’s List honors (4.0 GPA), second only in school history to the 49 Rockets who had perfect GPAs in spring 2016. In addition, 44 percent (165 of 375) earned a spot on the Dean’s List by garnering at least a 3.50 GPA.

“Congratulations to our student-athletes for all of their hard work and for achieving another outstanding semester GPA,” said Ericka Lavender, associate athletic director for academic services. “I would like to thank the Student-Athlete Academic Services staff, our faculty and staff, and the coaches for all of their support and hard work with our student-athletes. We are proud to know that our student-athletes can succeed at the highest level academically in addition to handling their athletic commitments every semester.”