September 13, 2012

Winter sports roundup: Seasons coming to a close

Senior wrestler James Wagner took home the heavyweight title at the 2012 Northern Wrestling Association Tournament hosted by Lakeland College last Saturday, Feb. 18.

Wagner finished third in last year’s conference tournament, but took home the title this year after pinning all three of his opponents.

Wagner opened by pinning Andrew Wagner of Lakeland College in 6:06 to advance to the semifinal round against Steven Nguyen of Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Nguyen had beaten Wagner previously this year, taking him out 12-8 in the quarterfinals of the Milwaukee School of Engineering Invitational back in December, but this bout would turn out to be much different. Wagner defeated Nguyen by pinning him early in the second period to move on to the championship.

In the final round Wagner had to get past MSOE’s Austin Karls to earn the first conference championship of his career.

Wagner scored the first two points of the match in the first period before Karls tied it going into the second period. Karls added two more points in the second to take a 4-2 lead into the third. Wagner won the match with a late charge, pinning Karls at 6:52 to take the championship.

Other top finishers for Knox were senior Francisco Munoz and junior Ryan Lambert, who placed third in the 125 and 174 pound weight classes respectively.

The Prairie Fire placed fourth in the team standings with 31 points. Lakeland and MSOE were the NWA co-champions with 89.5 points apiece.

Next for Knox is the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional on Feb. 25 at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minn. The Prairie Fire will look to improve on their disappointing 14th place finish from last season.


The Knox College women’s swim team set three school records during the Midwest Conference Championships held on Feb. 14-Feb. 16 in Appleton, Wisc.

On day one senior Rachel Clark broke the record in women’s 50 yard freestyle by recording a time of 25.89 seconds.

Clark then joined fellow seniors Tory Kassabaum and Anne Heberle, as well as freshman Colleen Shelly in breaking the record for the 200 yard freestyle relay.

Kassabaum, Clark, senior Bess Cooley and freshman Susannah Lodge-Rahal then combined to break the 800 yard freestyle relay record on day two.

“The key to the women’s team success in all of our swims, including the record breaking relays, was definitely how hard everyone worked at practice,” Kassabaum said. “Having a solid group of people to push each other every day of the season really made the difference in our swims at conference.

Overall the women placed sixth in the conference, just 15.5 points behind fifth place finisher Carroll University.

The men’s team placed seventh, just 12 points behind sixth place, and got solid performances from seniors Tyler O’Neill and Alan Ning, as well as junior Patrick Inness.

Overall, Coach Jonathan Powers was proud of the effort the teams gave during what was considered a grueling event.

“These guys were up at five in the morning and preparing to swim or actually swimming until eight at night for three straight days,” he said.

“We had a lot of personal bests, not only from our top finishers, but from our younger and newer swimmers as well, which is a great thing to see.”

Kassabaum explained that the feeling of respect was mutual from the swimmers to the coach.

“He leads with positivity and compassion,” Kassabaum said of Powers. “He treats us as equals and respects our opinions. He dedicated almost five hours a day to our team and for that, we are extremely grateful. It was an awesome season, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to end my swimming career.”

Track and field

Yet another record fell for the Knox indoor track and field teams at the Spartan Open hosted by the University of Dubuque last Saturday, Feb. 18.

The record was set in the distance medley relay. Senior Kevin Box, junior Joe Puntoriero and sophomores Matt Brongo and Gabe Moreno finished the race in 10:45.38, shattering the previous fastest time of 10:55.03 set at the 2009 Midwest Conference Championships.

The team placed third in the event, establishing the fastest time by a team from the Midwest Conference this season.

Puntoriero came up just short in his chase for the school record in the 200 meter dash. He finished sixth out of 37 runners with a time of 23.08 seconds, just .21 seconds off of the record.

Moreno, who recorded the school record in the 3,000 meter the last time he raced at the University of Dubuque, added his name for the fifth to the all-time performance list in the event after taking seventh in a time of 9:09.18.

Another long-distance runner that scored points for the Prairie Fire was junior Jacob Buddell, who placing third in the 5,000 meter run.

In the field events, the men’s team got a career-best performance from sophomore Weston Chenoweth. His shot put throw of 45 feet 7.24 inches ranks second in the Midwest Conference this season and earned him a third place finish in the meet.

The women’s team was led by senior Kristi Weller, who ran the 55 meter dash in 7.69 seconds to place third in the meet.

Senior Emma Swanson finished seventh overall in the 800 meter run in 2:26.71, matching her career-best time that’s seventh on the all-time individual list. Other solid performers for the Prairie Fire were sophomore Yael Cody and senior Rayann Parkinson, who placed seventh in the mile and 400 meter dash, respectively.

The Knox men’s squad scored 26 total points and placed eighth out of 12 teams, while the women’s team tallied 13 points and was tenth out of 11 teams.

Next up for the two teams in the 2012 Midwest Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships. The meet will be held on Feb.24 and 25 at Illinois College.


It was an up and down Wisconsin road trip for the Knox men’s tennis team last weekend, as the team prevailed against Ripon College 8-1 Friday but fell to Carroll University by the same score on Saturday.

Against the Red Hawks, Knox won five of the six singles matches and swept the doubles competition to earn their second team victory of the season.

Senior Erik Hane cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 victory in his number one singles match. Freshman Karolis Ruzgas fought hard for his 6-7, 7-6, 10-6 triumph at number three singles while junior Shaun Mulani, junior David Ham and freshman Walter Palmer had relatively easy wins in their singles matches.

The Prairie Fire’s top doubles team of Hane and Mulani posted an 8-3 victory. Ruzgas and Palmer also won 8-3 at number two doubles and the number three doubles team of Ham and freshman Jonathan Ng came away with an 8-2 win.

Palmer provided Knox its only win against Carroll, taking out the Pioneers’ Matthew Joost at number six singles 4-6, 6-2, 9-7 to remain unbeaten (4-0) in singles play this season.

Ham, Knox’s other undefeated singles player heading into the match, was not as fortunate, falling to John Silseth 6-3, 6-3 at the number five flight.

All three doubles matches were close, but Carroll prevailed 8-5 (number one flight), 8-6 (number two flight), and 8-6 (number three flight) to move to 3-0 on the season.

Knox (2-2) gets back to action on Saturday, Feb. 25 with a pair of non-conference matches against Ashford University and Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Knox plays Ashford at 12 p.m. and Loras at 3 p.m.

Jackson White
Jackson White is a senior double majoring in political science and secondary education. This is his third year as a sports editor for TKS. Over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year, Jackson worked for, writing feature stories and columns about high school and college baseball in central Illinois. Outside of the Publications Office, he is an information assistant for the Knox College Sports Information Department and a two-time all-Midwest Conference baseball player. Jackson is the recipient of five awards from the Illinois College Press Association, including two first place awards for sports game coverage and sports page design.

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