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Toledo women’s basketball team appears in pair of mid-major Top 25 polls

Toledo (8-3) appears at No. 10 in this week’s espnW’s Mid-Major Rankings released Wednesday evening, according to Graham Hays.

The Rockets are one of four Mid-American Conference schools to show up in this week’s poll, along with No. 2 Central Michigan (8-2), No. 5 Ohio (10-0) and No. 6 Buffalo (8-3).

The Rockets are one of four MAC schools to appear in this week’s two mid-major polls.

UT also finds itself at No. 24 in the collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 Poll.

Toledo has begun the season winning at least eight of its first 11 games for the third-straight year and 15th time in program history. UT recorded its eighth non-conference win with a 77-60 home triumph against Detroit Mercy Dec. 21, tied for sixth most in school annals before league play starts. The program record is 12 victories prior to the start of MAC play in 2012-13, followed by 10 wins in 2009-10 and nine in 1989-90 and 2016-17.

The Rockets return to action Sunday, Dec. 30, when they host NCAA Division II member Tiffin (2-8) in an exhibition game. The opening tip against the Dragons is slated for 2 p.m. in Savage Arena.

The exhibition matchup is free to attend, and the Grogan Room will be open to all fans.

FIU stops Rockets in Bahamas Bowl, 35-32

Toledo scored the game’s first points in the first 29 seconds of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, but couldn’t hold off Florida International University, falling to the Golden Panthers on Friday afternoon.

Eli Peters threw for 264 yards and tied a career high with three TD passes. Diontae Johnson caught six passes for 98 yards and a score, while Jon’Vea Johnson added two touchdown catches. Bryant Koback scored the game’s first touchdown with a three-yard rush in the first quarter, and both Richard Olekanma and Tuzar Skipper led the Rockets with eight tackles.

Junior wide receiver Desmond Phillips and the Rockets fell to Florida International University, 35-32, in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.

Toledo took the lead early with 10 points in the first quarter, but FIU’s strong rushing attack put the Panthers ahead by 10, 35-25, late in the game. However, Peters found Johnson for the second time in the corner of the end zone for a 43-yard touchdown with two seconds left to keep the Rockets’ hopes alive. UT’s chances came down to an onside kick, which was recovered by FIU to seal the Panthers’ victory.

Toledo set the tone on the opening kickoff, as freshman Terrance Taylor forced an FIU fumble that was recovered by junior DeDarallo Blue on the FIU three-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Koback ran it in for a three-yard TD that put Toledo up 7-0 just 29 seconds into the contest. Near the end of the quarter, a Rocket drive stalled at the FIU 10-yard line, causing UT to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Jameson Vest to extend the lead to 10-0.

In the second quarter, FIU got on the board on a five-yard touchdown run by Anthony Jones that capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive to trim the lead to 10-7 with 12:44 to play in the half.

Toledo missed a chance to put more points on the board when Koback fumbled on the FIU three-yard line following a four-yard gain. The Panthers recovered on their own four-yard line. FIU took a 14-10 lead on a 36-yard pass from Christian Alexander to tight end Sterling Palmer with 2:57 left in the second quarter.

Toledo regained the lead on its first drive in the third quarter, moving 75 yards in eight plays. Peters scrambled for 28 yards to the FIU 10-yard line, then finished off the drive with a seven-yard TD toss to Jon’Vea Johnson.

FIU came right back, however, scoring on a 30-yard touchdown run by Anthony Jones to give the Panthers a 21-17 edge with 3:47 left in the quarter.

The Golden Panthers added to its lead early in the fourth quarter when Maurice Alexander raced 16 yards up the middle for the score, capping a nine-play drive that began on the FIU’s 12-yard line. Toledo answered with a two-yard TD from Peters to Diontae Johnson. UT made the two-point conversion on a nifty catch by Cody Thompson in the back of the end zone to cut the lead to 28-25 with 7:21 left.

FIU’s Jones scored his third rushing touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter, putting the Rockets in a 10-point hole with 41 seconds left. The Rockets did not go quietly, though; Peters found Jon’Vea Johnson for a 43-yard TD in the corner of the end zone to pull Toledo within three, 35-32, with just two seconds remaining. However, UT’s onside kick attempt was not successful.

Rockets ready to battle FIU at Bahamas Bowl

The Toledo Rockets held their final practice Thursday in preparation for their game vs. Florida International University at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl Friday, Dec. 21.

The game will be televised at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Later Thursday evening, the Toledo band and cheerleaders fired up Rocket fans visiting the island with a pep rally at the Dolphin Cay Lawn at the Atlantis resort where the team is staying.

The UT chearleaders led a pep rally Thursday night in Nassau.

Head Football Coach Jason Candle said the trip has been a special one for the team.

“It’s really cool to take your seniors some place. I think it’s a really special thing to be able to do that out of the country,” Candle said. “It’s been fun to watch them embrace that. It’s been fun to watch them use their platform to give more than they take and to be model citizens. I really appreciate that about our football team.”

Throughout the week, players have commented on the amazing weather and the beautiful Atlantis resort, as well as the native food.

“Aside from the weather, [the best part has] been some of the amazing food and taking it all in,” said Toledo senior wide receiver Cody Thompson. “It’s the first time I had conch — I think that’s how you say it — so I’m going to have to find a place up in Ohio where I can get some of that.”

But Friday, all the focus will be on the game and the Rockets’ opponent.

“They’re a really fast, explosive offense. We have to do a good job of making them uncomfortable and shutting down the run. If we do that, we’ll have a good chance,” said Rocket senior linebacker Richard Olekanma.

Rockets reach out to local youth at Bahamas Bowl

It was another busy day for the Toledo Rockets, who completed a brief morning practice Wednesday in preparation for Friday’s game vs. FIU at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, then took some time out in the afternoon to meet with area youth in the Nassau area.

UT will play the Golden Panthers Dec. 21 at 12:30 p.m.; the game will be televised on ESPN.



Some of the Rockets visited the Ranfurley Home for Children in Nassau on
Wednesday.

The Rockets had a one-hour workout at a practice field adjacent to Robinson Stadium, where the bowl game will be played. In the afternoon, some players spent some free time while others met with area youth.

One group of players met with youngsters at the Ranfurly Home for Children, a refuge for children who are in the foster care system. Another group of players participated in a youth football clinic at Robinson Stadium, where the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl will be played.



“I know how it is to work with individuals who are going through a hard time,” Willie Ross, a UT junior, said. “It’s not that you need to go through a hard time for me to just spend time with you. I just want to say, ‘Hi, hello, how are you doing,’ and help make everyone smile.”

Toledo will have its final practice Thursday. Afterward, Head Coach Jason Candle and selected players will participate in a news conference at Robinson Stadium.

Later on Thursday, the Toledo cheerleaders and band will lead a pep rally at the Dolphin Cay Lawn at the Atlantis resort where the team is staying.

“It’s a chance for us to enjoy the fellowship of our team and these seniors for one last trip,” Candle said. “Hopefully, we can get it done on Friday and give these seniors a good feeling when they end their careers.”







Rockets complete first bowl practice, visit beach

The Toledo Rockets completed a morning practice Tuesday, their first of three sessions in preparation for their game against Florida International University at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl Friday, Dec. 21.

The game will start at 12:30 p.m. and be televised on ESPN.

Toledo senior Chris Green showed off his best moves in a dance-off contest at the beach bash at
the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl Tuesday.

The Rockets had a 90-minute workout at Davies Field in Nassau, a turf soccer field not far from Robinson Stadium, where UT will battle the Golden Panthers.

In the afternoon, most players spent some free time at the beach while the captain took part in an up-close dolphin experience. In the early evening, the Rockets joined their opponents from FIU for a beach party on Atlantis Beach on the Caribbean Sea. The players enjoyed a cookout, beach games and a highly spirited team dance-off competition.

Toledo will practice Wednesday morning and again Thursday.

A few players will visit the Ranfurly Homes for Children and a youth football clinic on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Toledo cheerleaders and band will lead a team pep rally.






”This is a beautiful place. The Atlantis is second to none when it comes to facilities,” UT Head Football Coach Jason Candle, said. “The hospitality has been great; everybody we’ve interacted with has taken great care of us. We’re very fortunate and very lucky to be here.”



He added, ”Obviously, the extra practice time is huge for the growth and development of our younger players. But at the same time, we want to send our senior class out the right way with a victory. When these guys go home over break and talk to their family and friends about their bowl trip, we want them to be able to talk about a positive experience, and that includes a win on Friday.”



”We’re just focused on getting better and perfecting our craft, doing whatever we can do to win this game on Friday,” senior defensive end Tuzar Skipper said. “We’re not on vacation; this is a business trip. We want to go out with a victory.”



“The first practice was hot, but it was fun being out here in the heat,” junior center Bryce Harris said. “We’ve been practicing in Fetterman for all of our bowl practices, so being able to get outside and have a practice felt good.”



Rockets arrive in Bahamas, begin week of preparation for bowl battle Dec. 21

The Toledo Rockets arrived at the world-famous Atlantis resort Monday, the first day of their trip at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl in Nassau. Toledo (7-5) will face Florida International University (8-4) at Robinson Stadium Friday, Dec. 21.

The game will start at 12:30 p.m. and be televised on ESPN.

Senior Tyler Taafe won a pinball competition against FIU Monday at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.

The Rockets departed from Toledo Express Airport at 12:30 p.m. Monday and landed at Nassau Airport at 3:30, arriving at the hotel a short while later. Both Toledo and FIU attended a buffet dinner last evening and were treated to a musical and dance performance by a Junkanoo group. The teams then faced off in a pinball competition, which was won by UT senior Tyler Taafe.

Toledo will practice Tuesday morning and attend a beach party along with the FIU players at 4 p.m.

Other events during the week will include a visit to the Ranfurly Homes for Children and a youth football clinic Wednesday. On Thursday, the Toledo cheerleaders and band will lead a team pep rally.

“How awesome. Our kids are fired up,” UT Head Football Coach Jason Candle, said. “Any time you can get a reward for a great season and get to a bowl game, that’s really cool. To be able to bring it to another country and certainly a place we’re looking to spread our brand as a football team and university, it’s really exciting.”

“The excitement started way before we pulled in, when we found out we were coming down here,” senior wide receiver Cody Thompson said. “A lot of guys haven’t ever been out of the country — my last time was when I was young. Going to the Bahamas is something everyone talks about and dreams about, so I’m really excited to be here. It’s an amazing opportunity to play football outside of our home country.”

“I hope our guys enjoy the week,” Candle added. “It’s a good chance to balance a little bit of fun, and we want to send our senior class off the right way with a win. We want their last time in the Midnight Blue and Gold to be a memorable one.”

First-ever baby races set for upcoming basketball games

UT fans can see if their baby is the fastest crawler during two upcoming men’s and women’s home games in the first-ever Toledo Rockets’ Baby Race presented by Kroger.

The first race will take place during the men’s contest vs. Penn Saturday, Dec. 29, with the second occurring at halftime of the women’s game vs. Ball State Saturday, Jan. 5. Tip-off time for both contests is set for 2 p.m.

A maximum of five babies 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 utrockets.com/babyrace to register. Registration will close Thursday, Dec. 27, at 1 p.m.

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 Athletics at adam.simpson@utoledo.edu.

UT student to graduate Dec. 15, start job as mayor of Oak Harbor in 2019

Quinton Babcock, a UT student in the Jesup Scott Honor College, will graduate this weekend and become mayor of Oak Harbor, Ohio, in the new year.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, Babcock will receive two bachelor of arts degrees — one in economics and disability studies, and one in mathematics.

Babcock

And then the 22-year-old will become mayor of Oak Harbor in 2019.

How did it happen?

Babcock ran and was elected to the Oak Harbor Village Council in December 2016.

“I had always had an interest in public service, and I felt I had acquired some professional skills that I could put to good use in the community,” he said.

In August, the Oak Harbor mayor resigned. Protocol says the mayor is succeeded by the president pro tempore, who is the president of the Oak Harbor Village Council.

At the time, the president pro tempore, Don Douglas, was in the middle of a campaign for Ottawa County Commissioner. Due to the uncertainty if Douglas would be elected to this position, Oak Harbor had to elect another president to replace him.

“I was elected by the council to be the president pro tempore,” Babcock said. “Come November, Mr. Douglas won his election for county commissioner and … I will serve as mayor for the duration of 2019.”

As the new mayor, Babcock wants to create a trust with the government.

“I think people generally feel very disempowered when it comes to government; they feel the government is not responsive to their concerns,” Babcock said. “With that in my mind, I would like to use my change in position to increase transparency, accountability, accessibility and responsiveness of the village government.”

Babcock also wants to address the concern of the possible closure of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, a major employer of area residents. “I would like to play a more active role in advocating for state solutions to this potential problem,” he said.

Superhero night at men’s basketball game Dec. 15

Rockets fans can bring their children to meet Superman and Batman as part of Superhero Night, and watch the red-hot Toledo men’s basketball team face Middle Tennessee Saturday, Dec. 15, in Savage Arena.

Game time is 7 p.m. Gates will open at 6 p.m.

Tickets for Saturday’s contest as well as each of the Rockets’ games during their upcoming four-game homestand can be purchased for $7 as part of the Winter Spectacular. Ticket prices will increase to $9 on the day of each game.

The Rockets are 9-1 this season and ranked No. 6 in the latest Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

Following Saturday’s game against the Blue Raiders, UT will host Cornell Wednesday, Dec. 19; Penn Saturday, Dec. 29; and Ball State Friday, Jan. 4.

To purchase tickets for the Winter Spectacular, stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office in the Sullivan Athletic Complex at Savage Arena, go online at the Toledo Rockets website, or call 419.530.GOLD (4653). The ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as on game day.

Composer/conductor to discuss music Dec. 13

Former Toledo resident Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and of the Aspen Music Festival and School, will visit the University for an evening of discussion with UT music students and faculty.

The talk will be moderated by Dr. Matthew Forte, UT director of orchestral studies, and held Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Spano

A reception will follow the discussion.

Tickets are $10 to $15 and are available in advance from the UT Center for Performing Arts Box Office by calling 419.530.2787 or visiting the School of Visual and Performing Arts website.

Spano is a conductor, pianist, composer and teacher known for the intensity of his artistry and distinctive communicative abilities, creating a sense of inclusion and warmth among musicians and audiences. Beginning his 18th season as music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, this imaginative conductor is an approachable artist with the innate ability to share his enthusiasm for music with an entire community and concert hall.

A fervent mentor to rising artists, Spano is responsible for nurturing the careers of numerous celebrated composers, conductors, and performers. As music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School since 2011, he oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programs for 630 students and artists.

Highlights of the 2018-19 season include Spano’s Metropolitan Opera debut, leading the U.S. premiere of “Marnie,” the second opera by American composer Nico Muhly, with Isabel Leonard, Janis Kelly, Denyce Graves, Iestyn Davies and Christopher Maltman.

Spano’s recent concert highlights have included several world premiere performances, including “Voy a Dormir” by prolific composer Bryce Dessner at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor; the Tuba Concerto by Atlanta School of Composers alumna Jennifer Higdon, performed by Craig Knox and the Pittsburgh Symphony; “Melodia for Piano and Orchestra” by Canadian composer Matthew Ricketts at the Aspen Music Festival; and “Miserere” by Atlanta Symphony Orchestra bassist Michael Kurth.

He has led Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Ravinia, Ojai, and Savannah music festivals. Guest engagements have included the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics; the San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Oregon, Utah and Kansas City symphonies; and the Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota orchestras.

Internationally, Spano has led the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Symphony, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira, Orquestra Sinfonica Estado Sao Paulo, the Melbourne Symphony in Australia, and the Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan.

With a discography of critically acclaimed recordings for Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Media, Spano has won six Grammy Awards with the Atlanta Symphony. Spano is on faculty at Oberlin Conservatory and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University, and Oberlin. He is one of two classical musicians inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and makes his home in Atlanta.