After a prolonged pre-season, the Knox Track and Field team finally had a chance to compete in an actual competition in order to see where they stand in anticipation of conference. It was a day of impressive accomplishments, and many set themselves up for a great season. The team was at Grinnell College, for the Dick Young Classic.
“It was a great indication of where we stand,” said coach Zierfuss. “It tells us where we need to be.”
The weather was somewhat cold and humid at the Classic, which turned into good weather for the distance runners, though at the expense of the sprinters on the team. Still, the team was more than ready for competition, as several athletes set season bests and personal records, really exploding out of the gate. Accomplishments ranged across the board, including senior Pam Bell and junior Jaclyn Anderson, who placed tenth in conference in both high jump and long jump, junior Karen Brophy, who is ranked fourth in the 10K, freshman Bill Schaefer, who is ranked eighth in conference in the 400m hurdle, sophomore Adam Kent, who is one foot, two inches off the school record for the hammer throw, as well as threatening on the shot put, and many other personal accomplishments and stunning times. Overall, the teams finished nineteenth on the men’s side, and seventeenth on the women’s.
“The team was ready for competition,” said Zierfuss, and they look like they really stepped it up. Much promise was shown so early, especially considering how small the roster is for the team to compete as it did. Particularly of note is Schaefer, whom coach Patrick Irwin expects big things out of in the future.
“It was Bill’s first time competing in the 400 hurdles,” said Irwin. “In high school, he ran the 300 meter, so this was all new for him. On Saturday, from a technical standpoint, he lost a few seconds. He stutter-stepped a few times, and wasn’t as aggressive as I would have liked on some hurdles. He can easily knock off a couple of seconds, get under a minute.”
Schaefer ran a 61.27 second race, enough to win his heat, and rank himself for conference. From the get go, he was ready and confident that he would be successful.
“When I stepped up to the line,” he said, “I said to myself, ‘I’m gonna win this race.’ It was all I could have asked for, and its what I got.”
Schaefer was quick to heap praise on the whole team, and how they performed.
“I’m proud of how we’ve all stepped up,” he said. “We lost two meets to weather, and now the team knows its crunch time, every hour of practice is important, we have to get out what we can, and get the good times.”
The weather on Saturday was a hindrance for him. “The warmer it gets, the better I run,” he said.
A noticeable absence from the meet was senior indoor record-breaker senior Tim Rairdon, who was in Wisconsin for academic reasons. Though he missed the chance to compete, his coaches knew he would be ready come conference.
“Tim’s been looking great in practice,” said Irwin. “He appreciates the chance to put all his work into practice. He loves competition, thrives on it. He knows he only has two chances before conference to make a mark, but his focus is so intense, he will be ready. We see big things for him at conference.”
The team takes a trip to Dubuque, Iowa, for the Loras College Open. The coaches hope for some strong competition for the team, to help drive them in anticipation for conference, but really are not pushing anything in particular.
“We don’t really put any emphasis on team scores,” said Irwin. “ It’s a tune up for conference, so we can improve on season best performances.”
The pressure builds, but the team is looking sharp, and hopes it can bring it all home for the big meet at conference, and bring some glory to Knox College once again.