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Toledo Athletics Launches Rocket Spring Reading Program

The University of Toledo Athletic Department is launching the Rocket Spring Reading Program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

To complete the program, students must read at least 10 books between March 25 and May 31. Each book must be recorded in the student’s Rocket Reading Log.

With recent developments requiring students to learn from home, the Rocket Spring Reading Program is designed to encourage kids to continue hitting the books. The reward for completing the program is one free ticket to the Toledo Football home opener against San Diego State Saturday, Sept. 12.

Each student must bring his or her completed Rocket Reading Log to the Rocket Ticket Office located at Savage Arena on Main Campus. The guardian of the student will receive the ticket via email/mobile to the Sept. 12 game. Tickets are based on availability.

There are three separate specialized categories: kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade, and sixth through eighth grade. The deadline to redeem the 2020 Rocket Spring Reading Program reward is Friday, July 10, at 5 p.m. at the Rocket Ticket Office.

Download the Rocket Reading Logs: kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade and sixth through eighth grade.

For more information, email Adam Simpson at adam.simpson@utoledo.edu.

Women’s Golfer Begins Fight Against Cancer

An ending to a season is often abrupt, unexpected or surprising. For Saranlak Tumfong, the way this 2019-20 season — and her collegiate career — ended was all three and more.

A senior from Chang Mai, Thailand, Saranlak (Sara) Tumfong came to The University of Toledo sight unseen. Her first three years on campus, like for many others, were filled with becoming a great teammate, adjusting to college life, getting a strong start to her golf career, and earning a reputation as a top-notch student.

Each season comes with anticipation, plans and goals. Sara looked forward to her senior season in a very different way, with blooming possibilities, higher goals for herself, and vision to continue great team chemistry. Injuries and illnesses are always a concern, but you learn to adjust and then put healing first when they do come. However, when major disruptions to our life happen, we aren’t usually prepared.

No one could be prepared for what happened to Sara, who was recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

Cancer is a punch in the gut to anyone. Cancer for a 22-year-old in her last semester of college is like someone punching you in the gut over and over again.

Sunday, March 1, in Panama City, Fla. was just like any tournament day. Wake-up call, breakfast with the team, and off to the course. Or so I had planned. At breakfast, Sara asked me about some strange bruising she noticed inside her mouth. She also had been noticing some bruising on her arms and legs and wasn’t able to remember where they came from. She didn’t have any other symptoms and wanted to go ahead and play. After consulting with our trainer, all decided to monitor the situation, and she teed it up. She played like any other round, with no other symptoms, and we packed up to come home. After the flight, the bruising increased on her legs. On March 2, she visited with the UToledo medical staff. It was determined that she is allergic to aspirin and would need to follow up with additional tests. It sounded like great news, a minor thing that could easily be avoided going forward. The overall feel was crisis averted, let’s move on.

Unfortunately, the final test results came in, and they weren’t what anyone was expecting. Sara was immediately called in and taken to the hospital for more testing, consultations and confirmation of diagnosis. When the doctor starts the diagnosis with a “C,” you find it hard to breathe at all and your mind goes blank.

Acute myeloid leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow that releases immature white blood cells into the body, preventing the release of healthy white blood cells. It also impacts red blood cells and platelets, causing severe bruising and bleeding. It requires a minimum of 30 to 45 days of hospitalization with chemotherapy treatments, a battery of tests, and a load of antivirals and antibiotics — not to mention the many side effects associated with cancer treatment.

We love this girl as we would love a sister. Her smile, compassion and leadership are infectious. She is absolutely a person you want to be around and enjoy life with. She was on track to have the best season of her collegiate career. She is a leader on our team, not just on the course, but off of it as well. Others look to her for guidance in life. She had her sights set on graduation this spring, and, like most 22-year-olds, was trying to determine what was next — art, media or golf. Now her focus is on fighting for her life.

We share her story as one of hope and strength. Sara and our whole team have shown strength beyond their years through our trials this season. Her prognosis is hopeful. However, she is facing a long journey ahead.

Many have asked how they can support Sara through this journey. Encouragement, emotional support and sharing your energy is what she needs. Sara can be found on social media @saranlak.t on Instagram.

Coluccio is the UToledo women’s golf coach.

All MAC Spring Sports Seasons Canceled

At the direction of Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner of the Mid-American Conference, and in consultation with the MAC Council of Presidents and Council of Directors of Athletics, the following revised policies will be implemented:

• Cancel the MAC Women’s Gymnastics Championship, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich.

• Cancel regular season and championship competition, and nontraditional season competition, for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.

• Suspend formal and organized practices until further notice.

• Suspend off-campus recruiting activities and official and unofficial visits. The only permissible recruiting will be written and electronic communication to include letters, emails, text messages and phone calls, in compliance with existing NCAA legislation.

The decision to cancel spring sports competition affects seven Rocket programs (baseball, men’s golf, women’s golf, softball, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, and women’s outdoor track and field,) as well as the women’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams, which hold off-season competitions.

All activities that had been scheduled on UToledo campus athletic facilities through March 31 have been canceled. The possible cancellation of activities scheduled for dates after March 31 — including summer camps and other larger gatherings — will be determined later.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff has always been and will continue to be the main priority of The University of Toledo Department of Athletics,” UToledo Vice President and Athletic Director Michael O’Brien said. “During these challenging times, we will continue to follow the directions and guidelines that we receive from the federal, state, University and conference levels. We will also try our very best to keep our supporters updated on any and all information regarding our athletic programs.”

Mid-American Conference Basketball Tournament Canceled

The Mid-American Conference has canceled the remainder of the 2020 MAC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments due to concerns about the coronavirus.

The announcement came shortly before noon Thursday, followed by a news conference with MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

The men’s tournament was scheduled to begin today. No. 7 seed Toledo was scheduled to play No. 2 seed Bowling Green at 6:30 p.m.

The women’s tournament completed quarterfinals games yesterday, with the No. 9 seed Rockets upsetting No. 1 seed Central Michigan.

Semifinals and championship games had been scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Should the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments be played as scheduled, the MAC regular-season champions would receive the league’s automatic bids, Steinbrecher said in the news conference. That would send Akron to the men’s tournament and Central Michigan to the women’s tournament.

No final determination has been made on the status of the NCAA tournaments.

UPDATED: Runner to Compete at NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships

This event has been canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus.

University of Toledo senior Petronela Simiuc has punched her ticket to the 2020 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships this week hosted by the University of New Mexico at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

The Bacau, Romania, native will compete in the mile event. The women’s mile preliminary round will be held Friday, March 13, at 7:35 p.m. Eastern Time.

The UToledo distance medley relay team, from left, Rayna Horner, Petronela Simiuc, Semra Karaslan and Meltem Yasar, captured gold at the Mid-American Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships in Akron, Ohio. Simiuc will compete in the mile at the 2020 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships this week.

The women’s mile finals will be held Saturday, March 14., at 6:20 p.m. Eastern Time.

Over the course of the indoor season, Simiuc broke Toledo’s record in the mile and 800 meters twice each. On Jan. 24, Simiuc clocked a time of 4:38.40 in the mile at the John Thomas Terrier Classic in Boston, smashing the previous record of 4:39.81 set by Megan Wright in 2014. She later broke her own record with a time of 4:34.59 to place fifth at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational Feb. 14 also in Boston.

Simiuc closed out the regular season by breaking Toledo’s 800-meter record at Michigan’s Silverston Invitational Feb. 21 with a time of 2:08.23, surpassing the previous record of 2:09.20, held by Janelle Noe. At the Mid-American Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships in Akron, Ohio, Simiuc rebroke the 800m record, posting a time of 2:07.46 in the final to place first.

Also at the MAC Indoor Championships, Simiuc clinched gold in the 800m (2:07.46), mile (4:46.93), and distance medley relay (11:38.11). She also was named First Team All-MAC for her performances in all three of her events, helping the Rockets to a sixth-place team finish with 60.5 points.

The NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships will be broadcast on ESPN3 starting at 7:15 p.m. Eastern Time Friday, March 13, and 6 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday, March 14. A re-airing of the championships is scheduled for Monday, March 16, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPNU.

UPDATED: Diver to Represent Toledo at NCAA Diving Zones

This event has been canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Sophomore diver Joelle Gallais is set to represent The University of Toledo at the 2020 NCAA Diving Zones this week in Lexington, Ky.

She will compete on the one-meter board Thursday, March 12, and from the platforms Saturday, March 14.

“Joelle has worked really hard this season and is looking confident going into zones this week,” Diving Coach Gabby Agostino said. “We have had some adversity this season, but I am ready to see her excel and show what she can do.”

The Lumsden, Saskatchewan, native has posted six wins on the one-meter board, with a career-best 300.00 set last season. Gallais competed at the 2019 NCAA Diving Zones last year.

Joelle Gallais has won the one-meter dive six times this season.

UPDATED: Women’s Basketball Team Upsets Top Seed Central Michigan in MAC Tourney Quarterfinals, 78-71

UPDATED: Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher announced March 12 the remainder of the 2020 MAC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments has been canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Win and advance: Toledo upset No. 1 seed Central Michigan, 78-71, Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

With the impressive win, the Rockets improve to 14-17 on the season and advance to the MAC Tournament semifinals against No. 4 Ohio (19-11) Friday, March 13, at 11 a.m. in Cleveland.

Junior Tanaya Beacham had 14 points, seven boards and one steal in Toledo’s upset victory against Central Michigan March 11 in Cleveland.

Toledo outscored the MAC regular-season champion Chippewas 20-5 in the pivotal third period to take control of the neutral-court matchup. The Rockets held CMU (23-7) scoreless for the final eight-plus minutes in the quarter to establish a lead they would not give up.

Molly Davis knocked down a triple to put CMU in front 44-39 at the 8:31 mark in the third quarter. The Chippewas would not score again until MAC Player of the Year Micaela Kelly converted a trey with 9:27 left in regulation. Toledo forced Central Michigan to miss 12 of its 14 shots in the period, and the Chips shot a frigid 14.3% from the field.

Junior Tanaya Beacham led a season-tying best five Rockets in double figures with 14 points, followed closely by classmate Nakiah Black, senior Sara Rokkanen, junior Tatyana Davis and freshman Quinesha Lockett with 12, 11, 11 and 11, respectively.

Toledo also benefited from eight points, a team-high eight caroms, a contest-best seven helpers and three steals to advance to the MAC’s Final Four for the seventh time in 12 years under Head Coach Tricia Cullop.

As a team, the Rockets shot a respectable 45.2% (28 of 62) from the floor, including 9 of 26 from three-point range, and 68.4% (13 of 19) from the charity stripe.

Toledo also finished with 13 assists, compared to a season-tying low 10 turnovers to run its record to 7-4 all-time against the Chippewas in the conference tournament.

Kyra Bussell paced Central Michigan with a game-high 23 points, including 21 in the first half, while Kelly added 21.

MAC Basketball Tournament to be Played Without Spectators

Following consultation with Ohio government and public health officials, and at the recommendation of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, the Mid-American Conference announced March 10 the 2020 Mid-American Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland will be played. However, a restricted attendance policy will be implemented for the tournament.

Permitted to attend the tournaments will be only credentialed institutional personnel; student-athlete family members; credentialed media, television and radio crews; and official team party members.

For all others, the tournament games will be closed to the general public.

This decision was made in consultation and guidance with local government, public health and medical officials to limit large gatherings due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“The safety of all is our greatest concern. Since January, I have stated that any decision would follow the advice of state governmental officials and medical professionals. Following the feedback, we received today [March 10], we have taken this action, which is in alignment with the recommendation of Gov. DeWine,” said Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, Mid-American Conference commissioner.

Fans will be able to watch the games through live streaming and cable networks. A full listing of games and television outlets is listed below.

Quarterfinal games for the women’s tournament begin Wednesday, March 11, with Toledo facing Central Michigan at noon (ESPN+).

The men’s tournament will begin Thursday, March 12, with Toledo battling rival Bowling Green at 6:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

Semifinal games for both tournaments will be played Friday, March 13, with championship games Saturday, March 14.

Rocket fans who have already purchased tickets to the tournament will receive a full refund. Fans who have questions may call the Rocket Ticket Office at 419.530.GOLD (4653).

The UToledo Alumni Office pregame parties scheduled at Harry Buffalo prior to each game also have been canceled.

Men’s Basketball Team Punches Ticket to Cleveland in 76-73 Win

The Toledo men’s basketball team fought off a feisty Western Michigan squad and punched its ticket to Cleveland on Monday evening with a 76-73 victory in a first-round Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament matchup in Savage Arena.

The No. 7 seeded Rockets’ victory places them in the quarterfinals against No. 2 seed Bowling Green (21-11) Thursday, March 12. Tipoff time for the contest is 6:30 p.m. in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse with streaming on ESPN Plus.

Junior Marreon Jackson scored 25 points in Toledo’s win over Western Michigan.

Junior Marreon Jackson paced Toledo (17-15) with 25 points, including 18 in the opening 20 minutes. Seniors Willie Jackson and Luke Knapke each registered a double-double for the second straight game. Willie Jackson tallied 22 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, while Knapke contributed 18 points and 11 boards.

Junior Michael Flowers led Western Michigan with 35 points, while junior Brandon Johnson notched 19 points and seven rebounds.

“I thought tonight was a gutty performance by our guys,” Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “We moved the ball well offensively and had 16 assists with only eight turnovers. I thought we guarded for 40 minutes. Western Michigan’s runs were created by [Michael] Flowers and [Brandon] Johnson hitting incredibly tough shots. I thought Willie and Spencer [Littleson] did a great job defensively against them.”

The Broncos held a 43-37 advantage in the rebounding department, but Toledo was able to offset that by going 9 for 22 (40.95) from three-point range and committing just eight turnovers.

The Rockets started strong in each half only to see Western Michigan rally from double-digit deficits. Toledo held a 16-point advantage in the opening 20 minutes before the Broncos closed to within four late in the half.

In the second stanza, the Rockets scored the first 10 points after intermission and eventually built their lead to as many as 19 points. Flowers trimmed the Rockets’ lead to a single point, 70-69, at the two-minute mark. Willie Jackson tipped in a miss on Toledo’s next possession for a three-point lead. He then came up with a steal that turned into a 74-69 lead with 54 seconds left.

Tickets for the MAC Tournament can be purchased online at Toledo Rockets Ticket Central website, by phone at 419.530.GOLD (4653), or by visiting the Rocket Ticket Office in Savage Arena. Only tickets purchased through The University of Toledo will be in the Rocket section of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Fans can pick up their tickets at the Toledo will call table in the outer lobby of the arena.

The UToledo Alumni Engagement Office will host a pregame party at 4:30 p.m. before the game at Harry Buffalo (2120 E. 4th St., Cleveland) just across the street from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Admission is $15. The all-you-can-eat menu for March 12 will include buffalo chicken egg rolls, traditional wings, chicken salad croissants, beef sliders with cheese, and a house salad. Soft drinks and iced tea are included with the meal. A cash bar will be available.

Women’s Basketball Team Defeats Akron in First Round of MAC Tourney

Toledo secured a nail-biting 63-59 victory over Akron Monday in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament in James A. Rhodes Arena.

The No. 9 seed Rockets (13-17) advance to the MAC Tournament Quarterfinals to face No. 1 seed Central Michigan (23-6) at noon Wednesday, March 11, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

Junior Nakiah Black scored 17 points vs. Akron in the first round of the MAC Tournament.

Junior Nakiah Black scored 15 of her team-high 17 points in the second half, and junior Tanaya Beacham contributed 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to lead a balanced Toledo attack.

Senior Sara Rokkanen added 12 points and senior Mariella Santucci had 10 points and a contest-best eight assists to help the Rockets pull off the heart-pounding four-point road triumph.

As a team, Toledo connected on 32.8 %(19 of 58) from the floor, including 5 of 20 from three-point range, and a splendid 80.0% (20 of 25) from the charity stripe.

The Rockets posted a sizable 37-27 advantage on the glass and finished with 13 assists, compared to only 12 turnovers to run their record to 6-2 all-time against the Zips in the conference tournament.

Haliegh Reinoehl paced the No. 8 seed Zips (15-15) with a game-high 21 points, followed by Shaunay Edmonds and Jordyn Dawson with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Tickets for the MAC Tournament can be purchased online at Toledo Rockets Ticket Central website, by phone at 419.530.GOLD (4653), or by visiting the Rocket Ticket Office in Savage Arena. Only tickets purchased through The University of Toledo will be in the Rocket section of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Fans can pick up their tickets at the Toledo will call table in the outer lobby of the arena.

The UToledo Alumni Engagement Office will host a pregame party at 10 a.m. before the game at Harry Buffalo (2120 E. 4th St., Cleveland) just across the street from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Admission is $15. The all-you-can-eat menu for March 11 will include chicken tenders, sheet pizza, beef sliders with cheese, boneless wings and a veggie tray. Soft drinks and iced tea are included with the meal. A cash bar will be available.