It was déjà vu for the Knox College track and field team at the Knox Open last Saturday Feb. 11. For the second time in three weeks a Prairie Fire runner broke a record once held by a teammate.
This time senior Emma Swanson broke the record for the women’s mile run with a time of 5:41.72, topping the previous best time set by fellow senior Brenna DeGan back in 2009.
“I had run [the mile] the weekend before and was close,” Swanson said of her accomplishment. “I asked the coaches if I could run it again because I knew I could legitimately get [the record]. I went in with the expectation of doing well.”
Swanson placed second in the event for the Prairie Fire, which also placed two other runners in the top six. Sophomore Yael Cody placed fifth with a time 5:59.89, while DeGan finished the race in 6:12.84 for sixth place.
A second women’s track school record was broken by senior Kristi Weller in the 60 meter run. Weller ran the event in 8.36 seconds in a preliminary round, besting her own mark of 8.45 seconds set last year.
“I think the strength of our team has improved, we have some really talented runners that are pushing each other,” Swanson said of the increase in solid times.
The success crossed into the relays as the women’s 4 x 400 meter finished first with a time of 4:29.13, while the 4 x 200 meter relay team placed second in a time of 1:53.53.
“I think our ladies 4 x 200 meters has finally clicked and we can expect to see them compete for a medal at the conference meet,” co-head coach Jason Haynes said.
On the men’s side Knox received an impressive day from junior Joe Puntoriero.
Puntoriero broke the school record in the 60 meter run with a time of 7.31 seconds. He also finished first in the 200 meter run, and his is time of 22.94 seconds was only .07 seconds short of the school record.
“Joe has been shooting for the 200 meter record since he was a freshman, and I am all but certain that he can get it before this season ends,” Haynes said.
Puntoriero also excelled in the long jump with a distance of 19 feet 11 inches. The leap was good for second place in the meet.
Sophomore Gabe Moreno added a first place finish in the 3000 meter run. His time of 9:17.84 was nearly 18 seconds ahead of the runner-up in the race. Junior Jacob Buddell also scored for the Prairie Fire men by placing third in the event.
Like the women, the men’s relay teams had a successful day as well. The 4 x 200 meter and 4 x 400 meter relay teams each finished second, while the distance medley relay was just .14 seconds away from a new school record.
Knox also had the second through fifth place finishers in the men’s weight throw. Senior Tony Sickley was second, sophomore Devin Compton third, junior Dan Johnson fourth and junior Paul Lebryk was fifth.
Knox also received a second place finish from sophomore Weston Chenowith in the shot put.
Overall, the men’s squad scored 107 points, barely getting edged out of first place by McKendree University’s 109 points. The women’s team placed third with 65 points.
“I was happy with the overall energy of this meet,” Haynes said. “The past couple of weeks we have been at larger meets and our athletes have been timid in the face of strong competition. This was a nice rebound for us and we will continue to build on that confidence.”
Knox concludes the regular season on Feb. 18 at the Spartan Open, hosted by the University of Dubuque, then heads to the Midwest Conference Championships which will be hosted by Illinois College on Feb. 24-25.