Before his final javelin throw as a college athlete, senior Jonas Mack was approached by his mother off the track. Her message was a simple one.
“My mom came up to me and said, ‘Seriously, just throw it, Jonas’, and that’s what I did,” Mack said.
Needing to break 50 meters for the first time this season, Mack’s throw sailed 51.2 meters to claim the Midwest Conference title, a goal he had set after finishing second in the event last season.
The victory was especially sweet for Mack after what had been a difficult year up until the conference meet.
“It took patience. At points I thought I was not going to [win]. My throws were decreasing every week because I was tired. I took a couple weeks off, and when I came back for the Monday practice before conference I knew it was going to be a good week,” he said.
Mack was not shy to express how much of a relief it was to finally have a title to his name.
“It was a great feeling. If I’m being honest, the whole year would have been a waste if I had not won. Last year, I made [winning conference] my goal. Since I met that, and my goal of hitting 50 meters on throw, all the work I put in paid off,” he said.
For senior Joe Puntoriero, a title in the 200 meter dash came as much more a surprise.
“I can honestly say I was surprised. It didn’t hit me until about 20 meters left in the [race] that I was running alone and was going to [win],” Puntoriero said.
With the victory, Puntoriero finally topped a familiar foe in Monmouth’s Kiante Green. Green had beaten Puntoriero in the finals of the 100-meter dash and gotten the better of the Knox sprinter in the 200-meter dash during the indoor season.
“Kiante and I have gotten closer this past year,” Puntoriero said of his competitor. “We were just competitors before this indoor season, and then our times started getting closer together. It gave us common ground to bond over.”
As for the significance of winning, Puntoriero believed it was the perfect way to end a college career.
“Track has been a huge part of my life. It’s the reason I came to Knox. [The] conference championship is the culmination of everything I’ve put into my sport for the past four years,” he said.
But college is not the ending point for Puntoriero, who plans to join the U.S Army and its World Class Athlete Program after graduating.
“[Track] is the reason I train so hard every summer and fall. It’s my reason for a lot of my life choices. I’m not ready to give up my sport just because I’m leaving Knox,” he said.
Puntoriero and Mack were also members of the 4×100 meter relay team that placed eighth at the event, one of the Knox men’s three other Top 10 finishes at the competition. Overall, the men finished in ninth place.
On the women’s side, the top individual performances came from freshman Carolina Goncalves and senior Lizzy Warner, who finished eighth in the 400 and 800-meter runs, respectively. The women’s team finished 10th.