The Knox College track and field team had a rough time this week. Already small in number, four athletes quit the men’s team on Monday and Tuesday, leaving the rest of the squad in dire straits. Though the women’s team remains at full strength, other than some losses to softball, the team lost four men, sophomore Chris Mouzakitis and freshmen Dan Kizior, Jordan Lanfair, and Brett Daley. In losing these men, the team lost the ability to gain some easy points in competition.
“Basically, we lost the ability to run any men’s relays,” said coach Patrick Irwin. “These athletes were parts of our 4×100 and 4×400 relays, and now, at this point we can’t field a squad to compete at it. We lose points by default, because a lot of times, these events have so many teams competing, we are bound to get at least one point.”
In addition to the outright loss of the relay events, the overall depth of the team is the biggest sufferer. By losing four athletes, the team in effect loses a third of their able competitors, bringing the men’s roster to eight. With sophomore thrower David Footle is currently down with an injury, the team is left with two men’s throwers, sophomore Adam Kent and junior Josh Alber.
Though at first glance this exodus from the team looks interrelated, in fact they were all for separate reasons. None of the men left because of each other, or because of the team.
“Honesty, I didn’t have a real huge reason to stop,” said Daley. “I just had no real desire, no drive, to do it.”
Daley, in addition to being an exemplary student, is also the punter of the Prairie Fire football team. His reason seemed to be a running theme for at least some of the men.
“For me, it was complicated,” said Mouzakitis. “With all my other activities, I didn’t have the time or energy to put into it. It wasn’t satisfying for me. I would ask myself why I was doing it when I could just get as much satisfaction from it by running alone. Besides, my times weren’t that great, so I’d rather run on my own.”
Mouzakitis is still the captain of the Cross Country team, also coached by Irwin, and there were no negative feelings expressed from either side over it.
Dan Kizior had similarly pragmatic reasons to stop.
“I wanted to get my grades up a lot,” he said. “I wanted to put in some more academic work. Anyway, I kind of lost interest, and it wasn’t all that fun for me. I want to focus on my main sport anyway, football.”
Kizior plays running back for the Fire football team.
Freshman Jordan Lanfair was unavailable for comment.
The coaches, while somewhat distressed by this turn of events, are working to get out of this jam.
“It’s a hit, sure, but we still have a bunch of great athletes on the team,” said Irwin. “We were already a small team, this just hits us, depth-wise, a little more. We could spread out some people more, but we don’t want to put that much on so few. We just have to make up points somewhere else.”
The team looks to get over this little shakeup as it takes a trip to Illinois College for the Illinois College Invitational. With approximately ten teams of varying skill in the house, the team plans on achieving the best possible results, as always.
“At this point, we’re just looking to keep it positive, and get out there and get the competitive season started,” said Irwin. “Our intra-squad meet on Saturday helped get some nerves and jitters out. And at IC, there are a bunch of teams that match up with us nicely, so it should be a good competition.”
“Coach said we had a great chance against these guys this weekend,” said freshman Courtney Jude. “So for me, I’m just going to go out there and compete.”
Events like this often test the mettle of a team, and the way this is going, if anything, the track team looks to spring back stronger and leaner than before, as long as they do not get winded first.