One of the school’s most famous coaches and a pair of track and field athletes will be inducted into the University of South Alabama (USA) Athletic Hall of Fame in September.
Ronnie Arrow is the Jaguars’ all-time leader in wins as the men’s basketball coach. Joining him in the next HOF class will be Olga Mencnarowska and Tonny Okello. The ceremony will be Sept. 26 at the Laidlaw Performing Arts Center on the USA campus, and the three will receive special recognition during halftime of the North Carolina State football game that Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Arrow walked the sidelines during two sessions with the Jags, first from 1988-95 and then from 2008-12. USA had a 211-161 overall mark in those 12 seasons, including 126-48 in the Sun Belt Conference (SBC).
Three times the SBC Coach of the Year, Arrow directed USA to a pair of regular-season titles and two league tournament championships. Perhaps his most famous victory came in 1989, when the Jaguars defeated Alabama 86-84 in the NCAA Tournament.
● Mencnarowska was the first female USA athlete to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. A four-year letter winner from 1996-99, she helped USA win its first-ever league title as a senior at the SBC indoor championships.
At the 1999 SBC outdoor event, she won the heptathlon and long jump, finished third in the javelin and tied for fourth in the 100-meter hurdles. She still holds the USA record with a time of 13.35 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles. The recipient of eight all-league honors, Mencnarowska was picked for the Sun Belt’s 30th Anniversary All-Time Women’s Indoor and Outdoor track teams.
● Four-time All-American Okello was honored in cross country in 2004 and 2005, and in 2006 and 2007 for the 5,000-meter run. He also was named to the SBC’s 30th Anniversary team. While a Jaguar, Okello earned seven individual Sun Belt championships and won the cross-country title as a freshman. He was named the most outstanding performer at the 2005 indoor meet after winning the mile and the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs. USA won the team crown that year. He gained the same honor at the SBC outdoor event, helping USA gain a share of the title.
Football getting closer
The Jaguars have announced the starting time for their first home game on Sept. 5. USA will host Gardner-Webb at 5 p.m. at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game will be shown on ESPN3.
Other established start times include Arkansas State on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. , to be broadcast on ESPN2. Thursday, Nov. 12, the Jags will play Louisiana-Lafayette on ESPNU at 6:30 p.m. The remaining times will be released 12 days prior to the games.
● Two USA players have received special recognition. Center Joseph Scelfo and placekicker Aleem Sunanon have been named to second pre-season watch lists.
Scelfo, a rising junior, is mentioned for both the Rimington Trophy (outstanding center) and Lombardi Award (down lineman). He is a preseason first-team SBC pick by Phil Steele Publications and a second-team choice by Athlon Sports.
Sunanon, who has led USA in scoring the last two years, is the only Sun Belt player on the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award list. He has converted 80.5 percent of attempts for a school-record 33 field goals.
The latest honor is his consideration for the Wuerffel Trophy, which goes to the player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement. He has been associated with projects at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital, the Special Olympics, L’Arche Mobile, Pop Warner youth football leagues and with Colby Sawyer, a Saraland youth who is battling leukemia and has been a big supporter of the Jaguars.
Locals join state conservation board
Gov. Robert Bentley has appointed three new members to the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board. Among those are Ben C. Stimpson Jr. of Mobile and Gary Wolfe of Fairhope.
The board assists in formulating policies for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. It also examines all rules and regulations.
Wolfe, a native of Monroeville, owns funeral homes and crematory services in Baldwin County. An avid hunter and angler, he said his interest now is in wildlife management.
Stimpson is director of corporate operations for Scotch Gulf and Canfor Southern Pine, and a former board member of the Alabama Wildlife Federation. He said he is passionate about preserving hunting and fishing heritage through proper management and biologically based game and fish laws.
● The University of Mobile’s Corey Hale was named First-Team NAIA Baseball All-American, while teammate Braxton Hamil was named to the honorable-mention team. Hale led the NAIA with 14 wins and finished second with 124 strikeouts. The 2015 conference pitcher of the year had a 1.27 earned run average. Hamil, a Mobile native, led the Rams with a .410 batting average. He is the first player at UofM with 200 career RBIs and 72 doubles.
● Three members of the USA women’s golf team were named 2014-15 Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholars. Elisa Axelsen, Ingrid Hagen and Madison Connell earned the honor after maintaining a 3.50 grade point average and participating in half of the team’s events. It marked Axelsen’s fourth straight year to be recognized.
● Tayler Hardy from the University of Mobile has been named to the Capital One Baseball Academic All-American first-team unit. The senior from D’Iberville, Mississippi, is an athletic-training major with a 3.88 GPA. He hit .356 this year and tied the team lead with 77 hits.
● The USA men’s basketball team will face North Carolina State and LSU as part of the Legends Classic. The Wolfpack will host on Nov. 15, while the Tigers will host on Nov. 19. The semifinals and final are set for Nov. 23 and 24 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.