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Rockets Earn Record 3.527 Grade Point Average in Spring Semester

University of Toledo student-athletes earned a combined grade point average of 3.527 in the 2020 spring semester, Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien announced today. It is the highest semester GPA for the Rockets, shattering the previous record of 3.306 set in spring 2019.

It is also the third consecutive semester in which UToledo student-athletes have earned a semester GPA of 3.3 or higher, and the 11th straight semester above a 3.2.

Softball recorded the highest semester team GPA with a mark of 3.812, the highest ever for a Rocket team. Men’s tennis (3.780), women’s coss country (3.776), women’s soccer (3.775), men’s golf (3.768), men’s cross country (3.745), and women’s swimming and diving (3.742) were each above the 3.7 mark, the first time in school history that seven teams had GPAs above a 3.7.

Other highlights from this past semester include:

• 20.4 percent (73 of 357) of student-athletes earned President’s List honors with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

• 57.4 percent (205 of 357) earned a spot on the Dean’s List by garnering at least a 3.50 GPA.

• 87.4 percent (312 of 357) made the Honor Roll by securing a 3.00 GPA or higher.

“Under unprecedented circumstances, our student-athletes rose to the occasion to have another outstanding semester in the classroom. They have set a very high standard of excellence in the past, but to eclipse the previous GPA record by more than two points is simply amazing,” O’Brien said. “This achievement says so much about the priorities of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. Special congratulations to Head Coach Joe Abraham and the softball team for setting the record for the highest team GPA in our school’s history.

“I would also like to express recognition to Associate Athletic Director for Academic Services Ericka Lavender and the Student Athlete Academic Services (SAAS) staff for putting in long hours and extra effort to help our student-athletes adjust to the mid-semester switch to remote learning. This is a very proud day for University of Toledo Athletics.”

Lavender added, “I am extremely proud of our student-athletes, SAAS staff and coaches for their tremendous work and effort during such an unprecedented time this semester. I would like to thank the UToledo faculty, staff and administration. This could not be possible without their support.”

UToledo Assistant Director of Sports Medicine Named Division I Assistant Head Athletic Trainer of Year

University of Toledo Assistant Director of Sports Medicine Brad Pierson has been named the Division I Assistant Head Athletic Trainer of the Year by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and the Intercollegiate Council for Sports Medicine (ICSM).

Each year, NATA and ICSM honor the hard work and dedication of outstanding individuals who have devoted their time, energy and talents to the betterment of the athletic training profession.

“I’m extremely honored to be recognized by the NATA and ICSM for this award,” Pierson said. “To be nominated by my peers for this award is extremely humbling. There are athletic trainers across the country that do amazing work day in and day out, and for me to be recognized in this group of professionals is pretty incredible. The opportunity to provide healthcare for some outstanding student-athletes makes the long days well worth it. I want to thank my co-workers, coaches, and department administrators, because without their support, I would not be successful in my work.”

Pierson recently completed his seventh season as a member of The University of Toledo sports medicine staff and second year as the assistant director of sports medicine and associate head athletic trainer. Pierson works directly with the women’s basketball program and also oversees the graduate assistant athletic trainers who cover the track and field and men’s and women’s cross country programs.

“As the ICSM awards committee reviewed the many exceptional nominees for the Staff Athletic Trainer of the Year Award, Brad rose to the top of the list,” said Steve Hillmer, a member of the ICSM Awards Committee. “Brad has been involved in increasing the quality and services provided to all of the student-athletes at The University of Toledo. His ability to work with various resources on campus to increase the care for the student-athletes is a model for every institution nationally. With all of his responsibilities on campus, Brad still finds the time and energy to serve the profession through his work at the state, regional and national level by volunteering on several committees. He is a role model for all athletic trainers in our profession.”

Pierson came to Toledo after spending two years at Mid-American Conference member Eastern Michigan, where he was the primary athletic trainer for the men’s basketball, crew and women’s volleyball teams.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in athletic training in 2009 from Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, W.Va., before going to EMU to earn a master’s degree in exercise physiology in 2011 and working on the sports medicine staff as a graduate assistant.

In 2011, Pierson accepted a position at the West Virginia University Institute of Technology as an assistant athletic trainer and professor in the Physical Education Department.

A native of Charleston, W.Va., Pierson is a certified athletic trainer in the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

“Brad is clearly one of the best young professionals I have worked with in my 22 years at Toledo,” said Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine Brian Jones. “His passion for this profession, the care he provides to our student-athletes, and his compassionate personality truly make him a fantastic recipient of this award. I’m truly honored to have Brad as a member of our Toledo sports medicine family.”

Toledo Women’s Golf Program Receives Spirit Award

The University of Toledo women’s golf program has received the 2020 Women’s Golf Coaches Association’s Kim Moore Spirit Award.

“We are honored to be one of the Kim Moore Spirit Award recipients because Kim is an inspiration to all of us,” Head Coach Jenny Coluccio said. “Our 2019-20 season was a difficult one, not just for our team, but for everyone in college golf. We hope that our story has been an inspiration and motivation for others, and that is why we’re proud to share what we have been going through.

“I want to thank my team with the way they have been a rock for each other, held their heads high, and continued to use golf as a vehicle to help us move forward. I also want to thank our mental health, athletic training and administrative staff for helping us through our tough times.”

This award is dedicated to Kim Moore, who played golf for the University of Indianapolis (1999-2003). Moore was an inspiration to all as she persevered through many physical challenges while playing collegiate golf. Her positive outlook and dedication toward the game was only out done by her sense of humor and passion for the game.

The purpose of the award is to recognize and honor a student-athlete or coach who exemplifies a great spirit toward the game of golf, a positive attitude on and off the golf course, a role model for her team, and mental toughness in facing challenges.

In addition to the Rockets being honored in the team category, the Women’s Golf Coaches Association also honored Furman senior Carly Burkhardt and North Carolina State’s Head Coach Page Marsh.

For more information on the adversity and challenges the Rockets faced throughout the season, read Coluccio’s Rocket blog.

Toledo Women’s Basketball Ranks No. 26 Nationally in Home Attendance in 2019-20

The NCAA recently released its final home attendance figures for the 2019-20 season, and the Toledo women’s basketball team finished No. 26 in the country, averaging 3,844 fans per contest.

The Rockets also led the Mid-American Conference in attendance for an unprecedented 30th-consecutive season.

Toledo led the Mid-American Conference in attendance for an unprecedented 30th consecutive season in 2019-20, averaging 3,844 fans per game.

Toledo drew at least 4,000 fans to five contests during the year, including a season-best 5,051 against Western Michigan Feb. 22.

The Rockets have ranked in the top 30 nationally in home attendance in eight of the last nine years under Head Coach Tricia Cullop. The Midnight Blue and Gold also finished No. 28 (3,748) in 2011-12, No. 25 (4,012) in 2012-13, No. 24 (3,932) in 2013-14, No. 28 (3,636) in 2014-15, No. 24 (4,050) in 2015-16, No. 27 (3,744) in 2016-17, No. 31 (3,420) in 2017-18, and No. 30 (3,728) in 2018-19.

In 12 years under Cullop, Toledo is 144-47 (.754) on its home court, including 82-26 (.759) against conference opponents.

Toledo also has won at least 11 home contests in nine seasons under Cullop, including a school-record 19 victories during the 2010-11 campaign.

Toledo Infielder Named Academic All-District

Sophomore infielder Darryn Davis of The University of Toledo baseball team has been named Academic All-District by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Davis will be on the ballot for Academic All-America, which will be announced next month. He is the eighth player in program history to earn Academic All-District honors and the first honoree since 2013.

Sophomore Darryn Davis was named Academic All-District, putting him in contention for the Academic All-America squad.

The Ann Arbor, Mich., native was outstanding in the 16 games Toledo played this season. Davis hit .400 (24 for 60) and tallied a team-best 17 RBI. He ranked second in the Mid-American Conference in batting average and hits, as well as on-base percentage (.532).

Davis compiled a 20-game hitting streak dating back to the 2019 season, the longest by a Rocket since 2010. He served as Toledo’s leadoff hitter for most of the season, scoring a team-high 14 runs and walking 13 times while striking out in just six of his 77 plate appearances.

As a freshman in 2019, Davis hit .329 and started games at five different positions. He was second on the team with 19 multi-hit efforts while recording 12 extra-base hits and driving in 33 runs.

Academically, Davis carries a 3.96 cumulative grade point average as a pre-business major.

The 2020 Academic All-District Baseball Team, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America, recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances on the field and in the classroom.

Runner Named All-American by U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association

Senior distance runner Petronela Simiuc was named an All-American May 26 by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Simuic made the Indoor Track & Field All-American Team for her performance in the mile. She qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., but she never got to compete as the meet was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Petronela Simiuc is the Rockets’ first track and field All-American since Janelle Noe in 2018.

“This has been a long time coming for Petra to reach All-American status, and I’m so glad the USTFCCCA and the NCAA chose to recognize these athletes,” said Head Coach Andrea Grove-McDonough. “I look forward to watching her continue her career in her final outdoor season in 2021.”

Simiuc had a tremendous indoor season, breaking UToledo’s all-time 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 in Boston.

She 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 Championships, Simiuc re-broke the 800-meter record, posting a time of 2:07.46 in the final to place first.

At the MAC Indoor Championships in Akron, Ohio, 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, and she helped the Rockets to a sixth-place team finish with 60.5 points, a half of a point ahead of Miami (Ohio).

On March 3, Simiuc was named the MAC Most Outstanding Female Track Performer.

Rocket Golf Classic Canceled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

The 2020 Thomas Baither Memorial Rocket Golf Classic presented by UBS Financial Services has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual event, which was originally scheduled for June 18 at Stone Oak Country Club, is held every year and helps benefit The University of Toledo Athletic Department.

The 2020 Thomas Baither Memorial Rocket Golf Classic has been canceled this year.

“The Rocket Golf Classic is an event that many of our supporters look forward to every year, so we are very disappointed that we have to cancel it this year,” said Deputy Athletic Director Dave Nottke. “We appreciate their enthusiasm and support for our student-athletes, and look forward to the day in the very near future when we can once again gather together and celebrate our passion for the Rockets.

“We also very much appreciate any contributions to the Rocket Fund as we move into a significant fiscal challenge for our athletic department,” he added.

In light of the cancellation of the golf tournament, supporters may make contributions to the Athletic Department on The University of Toledo Foundation website.

Rockets Land Impressive Academic Progress Rate Scores

The NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate (APR) figures May 19, and once again The University of Toledo received very impressive scores across the board.

For the four-year period from 2015-16 to 2018-19, all 16 Rocket varsity sports had at least a 939 score, above the NCAA’s “cut point” of 930, with women’s golf and men’s tennis leading the way with perfect 1,000 marks. Those two sports plus football (983) had either the highest APR score or were tied for the highest score in the Mid-American Conference.

Four other Rocket teams were within five APR points of the league leader: baseball, women’s basketball, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

The football team’s APR of 983 set a record for the program and was the sixth time in the last seven year’s that the Rockets had the highest APR in the league.

“We are very pleased to announce these impressive APR numbers,” said University of Toledo Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien. “There is a strong correlation between APR and progress toward graduation, so this is an indicator we watch very closely. Our APR numbers have been consistently excellent, as have our graduation rates, which is the ultimate academic goal for our student-athletes. We take great satisfaction in knowing that 56 Rocket student-athletes received their diplomas this spring.”

APR is a gauge of every team’s academic performance at a given point in time. Points are awarded on a semester-by-semester basis for eligibility, retention and graduation of scholarship student-athletes. A score of 1,000 is considered perfect. Sports that fail to reach the “cut point” (930) can be penalized with the loss of scholarships, practice restrictions and post-season bans.

The APR data released this week is a cumulative figure taken from the 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years.

Three Rockets Named MAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes

Three University of Toledo student-athletes were named Distinguished Scholar Athletes from the 2019-20 winter season by the Mid-American Conference. The awards were received following strong contributions in the field of competition and exemplary work in the classroom.

Women’s indoor track and field athletes Rayna Horner and Petronela Simuic were named Distinguished Scholar Athletes, as was Izzy Jones from the women’s swimming and diving team.

Horner is a sophomore majoring in pre-social work; she has a 3.774 grade-point average. Simuic is a senior majoring in health promotion and education; she has a 3.695 GPA. And Jones, a redshirt junior, is studying kinesiology and has a 3.734 GPA.

The award is given to student-athletes who have excelled in athletics and academics. Following each season, any student-athlete with a 3.20 GPA and participation in at least 50 percent of the contests is automatically named to the Academic All-MAC Team for each sport. First-year students and junior college transfers in their first year of residence are not eligible for the award.

New for this 2019-20 academic season, the selection for the Distinguished Scholar Athlete included all student-athletes that were recognized as All-MAC selections and Academic All-MAC selections from their respective sport, along with maintaining a 3.50 GPA and above. Previously, a voting process among the MAC Faculty Athletic Representatives determined the selection of the Distinguished Scholar Athletes. MAC membership voted for the change in recognizing the Distinguished Scholar Athletes during the conference spring meetings in June 2019.

Rockets, Wingstop Team Up to Donate 400 Meals to UTMC Staff

Rocket Sports Properties is teaming up with The University of Toledo Athletics’ corporate partner Wingstop to donate 400 lunches to doctors, nurses and other hospital staff at UTMC Tuesday, May 19.

Meals will be provided at 11:30 a.m. for the day-shift employees and at 7:30 p.m. for night-shift personnel.

“It’s a privilege for us to be able to do this with Wingstop — to serve our community and to provide food for very deserving hospital personnel who are doing so much to protect us during the pandemic,” said Robert Rice, general manager for Rocket Sports Properties, the University’s athletics multimedia rightsholder and locally based Learfield IMG College team.

“Right now, more than ever, it’s important for us to give back to our community, and there are millions of people who need our help,” said Tommy Pipatjarasgit, Wingstop brand partner. “We have donated thousands of wings to hospital workers, fire fighters and police departments working the front lines in Detroit and Toledo. It has really boosted team morale that they are making a difference by giving back, and it gives everyone a sense of hope and positivity.”

Pipatjarasgit’s Wingstop locations are at 3330 Central Ave. in Toledo and 1399 Conant St. in Maumee.