Although team scores were not kept, individual records still fell at the Knox Invitational on Saturday Jan. 12th at T. Fleming Fieldhouse.
Senior Joe Puntoriero led the charge by finishing first in both the 60 and 200-meter sprints while taking second in the long jump. Puntoriero’s time of 7.20 seconds in the preliminaries of the 60-meter sprint set the Knox College Indoor Track Record and he would go on to break it again in the finals clocking a time of 7.16. For his efforts, Puntoriero was named Midwest Conference Men’s Track Performer of the Week .
“I was expecting [Puntoriero] to do well in the first meet,” Head Coach Jason Haynes said. “He worked incredibly hard this off-season. He broke it in the prelims and again in the finals. The improvements came by pretty big margins for only a 60-meter race.”
Puntoriero was also not surprised by his early success.
“I had a feeling I would break the 60 record the first time I ran it [this season] just because when I ran it last year, I wasn’t sure how to run it well,” Puntoriero said, crediting adherence to the off-season training program the coaching staff had put forth for him.
“The whole goal was to become more explosive. I can say wholeheartedly it worked perfectly,” he said. “I trust the coaches’ workout progression and don’t have a fear about peaking too early. What happened at the first meet was a product improving all summer and fall.”
With three different events to take on each meet, Puntoriero takes the mental preparation just as seriously as the physical aspects of training.
“Every athlete is different. I’m the guy who listens to [classical music] as I warm up to completely get to a focused calm,” Puntoriero said. “[Assistant Coach Glenn Prout] always has to tell me to relax and think of something that calms me down before a jump so I’m not tense. During a race, it’s all about visualizing [the moment] and then just making it happen while staying calm and relaxed.”
In addition to Puntoriero, the Knox men received solid performances from junior Westin Chenoweth and senior Sean Choate. Chenoweth finished second in the shot put, while Choate came away with a sizable six-second victory in the mile run.
Choate’s performance was even more impressive considering a mishap led to confusion at the conclusion of the race. One of the meet’s officials failed to ring the bell indicating the final lap, meaning that Choate never received an opportunity to start a finishing kick; he coasted to the finish line instead.
“He was pretty upset about it, but he still had a positive outlook because he still set a personal best time,” Haynes said.
On the women’s side, Knox received victories from freshmen Lizzy Reyes and Grace Neubauer in the 3,000 meter and mile runs respectively.
Overall, the meet was successful despite not having an official team score, as the season is only in its beginning stages.
“We like using these early season meets as a marker of where we are at as a team. It’s the best opportunity to find a mark to improve on,” Haynes said.
“Honestly the team walks into every meet with the same mentality: improve on your last meet and be there to compete,” Puntoriero said. “We are always looking ahead to the conference meet since we all know that [is the one that truly counts]. Until then, it’s every individual member improving themselves for the team’s sake.”
Knox’s second meet of the season will be the Monmouth Invitational this Saturday, Jan. 19, at Monmouth College.