Sports / The Prairie Fire / February 2, 2011

Prairie Fire net top tens at IWU

With sparse point showings at last Saturday’s Titan Open, Knox’s men’s and women’s track and field teams finished near the bottom. But with continued individual progress, the athletes do not seem to mind.

The Prairie Fire men’s team finished in 15th of 16 teams, while the women’s team finished 15th of 18 teams at the event, held by Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill.

“I thought the team stepped up as a whole,” junior pole-vaulter Laura Johnson said. “We continued to bring in personal records and [top 10 all-time school] records, so that’s always a good sign at this point in the season.”

For the third consecutive week, and in the third different event, freshman Gabe Moreno ran his way into the top ten all-time performances at Knox College. Moreno—only competing individually in the men’s 3000 meter race—finished less than a second out of the top spot, behind Paul Grinis, ’00.

“When the race got started … everyone went out flying and I was in dead last,” Moreno said. “I figured if they kept up the sub 4:10-mile pace I would gladly take last, but they slowed down pretty quickly.”

Moreno finished in fourth place in the 3000 meter run. He also ran the anchor leg for the distance medley relay team that finished eighth at the Titan Open with a time of 11:05.20. The performance put them in fourth all-time in the Knox record books. Sophomore Sean Choate and freshmen Matt Brongo and Bobby Mueller joined Moreno on the distance medley relay team.

Sophomore Joe Puntoriero ran the eighth best 200 meter dash time in school history, 23.55, good for 13th place in Bloomington. Puntoriero finished just .4 seconds behind his career-best mark of 23.15, recorded last season.

Senior Bill Schaefer continued his comeback from injury with a 17th place finish in the 55 meter hurdles. Schaefer’s time of 8.69 was .26 seconds behind his career-best mark of 8.43 seconds.

The women’s team was led by Johnson, whose mark of 8’0″ in the pole vault put her fourth all-time on Knox’s individual record list. Johnson credited her good performance to a shift in approach.

“I started treating competition like practice,” Johnson said, “and I did much better than I’ve been doing.”

The women’s distance medley relay team finished third of six teams. The team consisted of senior Chloe Bohm, juniors Emma Swanson and Brenna DeGan and freshman Yetunde Durotoye.

Junior Kristi Weller and sophomore Sara Brown finished 23rd and 25th of 47 runners in the 55 meter dash.

The Prairie Fire will next travel to Jacksonville, Ill. for the Jim Green Open, hosted by Illinois College, this Saturday. Following that, the Prairie Fire will return home for their final home meet of the season, the Knox Open on February 12.

Due to the school’s weather-forced closure this week, Knox’s track and field teams missed two practices. Moreno stressed the importance of a positive attitude for the teams.

“I have no idea how I’m going to get my workouts in,” Moreno said, “so it’s going to take some flexibility … But the fitness won’t go away in two days. I’m just going to take the break nature’s giving us and let my body rest before some quality work when the blizzard subsides.”

Events at this Saturday’s Jim Green Open will begin at 10 a.m.

Kevin Morris

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