Featured / Sports / The Prairie Fire / May 18, 2016

Track and Field closes season strong

The Knox Track and Field team competed in the Midwest Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships over this past weekend, closing out their 2016 season in strong fashion. Over the course of the high-intensity meet, many members of the Knox team set new personal bests, some of which rank highly in the Knox record books.

On the first day of the meet, senior captain Brennan McGlauchlen placed sixth in the men’s hammer throw after breaking his own school record with a toss of 157’ 4”. Senior Brian Cole finished eighth in men’s 10,000 meter run with a strong time of 34:00.25. The men’s 4×100 meter relay team, consisting of sophomores Shadrack Ofori-Boadi and Martwain Holmes and freshmen Malik Hamilton and Njoh Malafa, placed fourth in the tournament by posting the fourth-best time in school history.

For the women’s team, senior Saundra Gavazzi’s javelin throw of 92’ 3” earned her sixth place in the women’s division. Freshman sprinter Val Varanese was able to qualify for the finals in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the latter of which she accomplished thanks to posting the seventh-best run in Knox history. The next day, Varanese earned second place with a 100-meter dash time of :12.46, beating her own previous school record of :12.49. She was also able to beat the Knox 200-meter dash time with her time of :25.98, placing her in fifth place in the conference. Sophomore Frances Larsen ran the 10th-best 3000-meter steeplechase in Knox history with her time of 13:12.85. Junior Jessica Fritts’ hammer throw of 123’ 3” slots in at fourth place in Knox history.

After hearing about all of these record-breaking and top-10 performances by Knox men and women athletes, it may be surprising to learn that the women’s team finished in ninth place out of 10 teams while the men’s team finished 10th.

Junior runner Joseph Gilmore theorizes that the main roadblock keeping Knox Track and Field from achieving more team success is the lack of numbers they have been able to field for each meet, preventing them from participating in every event. Not only does this mean that Knox simply does not compete in certain events, Gilmore explains that these are “events that we just miss any chance of earning points in.”

The Knox men’s 4x100 meter relay team placed fourth in the Championship meet. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Communications)

The Knox men’s 4×100 meter relay team placed fourth in the Championship meet. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Communications)

When asked how many events the team did not participate in, Gilmore listed eight by name and said he believed there were even more.

The scoring system is fully based on points, which are earned by every school for each athlete it places in the top eight places. This means that there were at least eight events that earned all other schools points at the meet, while Knox could only sit and watch.

One can only imagine that if numbers allowed Knox to participate in all the events, both the men and women’s teams’ final scores would shoot up the board.

Even with this unfortunate situation, both Knox Track and Field teams improved on last year’s conference tournament scores, Varanese says.

Though she admits that there are several strong performers graduating this year, Varanese is very optimistic for what the future holds for the Knox Track and Field teams. Explaining that “Coach Overby has been recruiting many more strong performers to join the team this upcoming season,” and that these additions will allow the team to “continue to rise in the conference standings.”

Gilmore also notes that being on this team has been much more fun this season, citing the great group of athletes who participated this year, as well as just natural progression and growth from the coaching staff and team leaders.

“Our captains organized short team meetings before practices where we could talk about our goals for the day,” which Gilmore said was very helpful. These captains, all seniors, are Caitlin Hemby, Grace Neubauer, Cole and McGlauchlen. Though Gilmore acknowledges losing all four of their senior captains and more strong performers to graduation will be tough, he is confident the team will continue to grow in the future because of their newfound depth.

“We’ve always had one or two individual superstars,” said Gilmore, “But now we’re accumulating more talent and depth.”

With many members of the team running with Cross Country in the fall, the team should enjoy a strong segue into their indoor and outdoor Track and Field seasons in the winter and spring.

With many Track and Field members breaking personal and school records this season, it is clear that Knox’s Track and Field program is on the rise. Though hampered by low numbers this season and in the past, the coaching staff is working hard to make sure that they will not suffer from these unfortunate circumstances in future seasons, recruiting hard for new athletes to join. There is no doubt that big things should be expected from Track and Field in the near future, and that many more records can be expected to be shattered before it is over.

Jonathan Schrag, Managing Editor
Jonathan Schrag is a junior majoring in Political Science and double minoring in Educational Policy Studies and History. He has been writing for TKS since Fall Term of his freshman year and has contributed to News, Sports and Discourse. He served as the Sports editor during his sophomore year and has won several awards from the Illinois Collegiate Press Association.

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