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The Kent State football program received a desperately needed dose of positive news last Wednesday when Antwan Dixon was released from the hospital just over two months after undergoing a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
Dixon suffered from aplastic anemia, a rare blood disease that first struck in high school then returned following his freshman season with the Golden Flashes. He did not play football or take classes at KSU last fall as his condition worsened, forcing him to return to his home in Fort Myers, Fla.
Dixon was eventually hospitalized and scheduled to receive a bone marrow transplant from his father, Anthony Dixon, on April 13 at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. He lost several teeth before surgery, but the procedure was successful. Dixon's recovery went well, and he wound up leaving the hospital about a month ahead of schedule.
On the day he returned home, a video produced by WINK News in Florida showed Dixon looking fit and moving remarkably well through agility drills, making explosive cuts and catching passes.
Dixon made a major splash as a 5-foot-8, 173-pound freshman wideout for the Flashes in 2015, gaining 162 yards on 11 carries while catching 26 passes for 355 yards. The explosive former South Fort Myers High School star provided a big-play threat for Kent State, scoring three touchdowns, on a 20-yard catch and runs of 47 and 75 yards.
Dixon has reportedly regained 33 of the 50 pounds he lost during surgery and plans to one day play football again at Kent State as head coach Paul Haynes has kept him on scholarship.
TRACK AND FIELD
Kent State national champion Danniel Thomas has been named a semifinalist for The Bowerman award, given annually to the NCAA's top male and female track and field athletes. Three finalists will be named on June 21.
Thomas became Kent State's first female individual national champion on June 8, when she captured the shot put crown with a toss of 62-10 that set an NCAA National Championships record and is the second-best throw in NCAA history. The redshirt senior from Jamaica added a fourth-place showing in the discus two days later at the NCAA National Championships in Eugene, Ore.
The Kent State golf program lost a friend and one of its most faithful and generous supporters in Dennis Rango, who passed away last Friday.
"He was a teammate and one of my very best friends," said veteran Flashes golf coach Herb Page. "He was a passionate supporter and very philanthropic to our golf program. Dennis and (his brother) Rich were the catalyst to elevating our golf program through their support. I have great memories with Dennis on and off the golf course. My condolences go out to Debby and Elena, as well as Rich."
Dennis and Rich Rango have hosted a golf outing to raise money for Kent State's program for the past 31 years, raising nearly $750,000. They also each fund an endowed scholarship awarded annually to a member of the men's golf program.
Several players who starred on last year's Kent State squad fared well at the 2017 MONROE Invitational Championship, held June 7-10 at the Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford, New York.
Chase Johnson (Barberton/Walsh Jesuit) tied for second at 1-under-par, firing rounds of 69-67-70-69. Josh Whalen finished 15th at 5-over, while Ian Holt (Stow) placed 18th at 6-over.
Former Kent State national champion Dustin Kilgore closed his wrestling career by advancing to the 97-kilogram semifinals at the 2017 US men's Freestyle World Team Trials in Lincoln, Neb.
Kilgore will now delve into coaching. The Flashes' 2011 NCAA National Champion has accepted a position as an assistant coach at Rider under new head coach John Hangey.
Former Kent State star forward Jimmy Hall worked out for the Brooklyn Nets last week, according to Basketball Insiders, along with fellow pro prospects Jawun Evans of Oklahoma State, Dillon Brooks of Oregon, Amile Jefferson of Duke, Erik McCree of Louisiana Tech and Derrick White of Colorado.
Hall earned First Team All-Mid-American Conference honors for the third time in 2016-17, when he led the Flashes to the MAC Tournament title. Following his senior season, he made a solid showing at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, averaging 14.7 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the floor in three games.