As the year comes to a close, Knox will say goodbye to many senior athletes that have helped elevate their respective teams.
2016-17 was a historic year for many Knox programs, with the women’s soccer team’s bid to the NCAA Tournament being the most impressive.
Strong seasons from men’s soccer, women’s basketball, swimming and diving and the water polo team were supplemented with incredible personal feats in each sport.
This year also saw many talented rookies burst onto the scene, bringing polish and promise for the future.
There is still plenty of work to be done for many Knox teams, but some are enjoying their best stretches in years.
While there are star athletes on both sides, there seems to be an unprecedented number of standout athletes on the women’s teams at Knox, which bodes well for strong results from those squads in the coming years.
While Knox will miss the graduating athletes, there seem to be an impressive number of young players waiting to step up and fill their shoes.
Top Female Athlete: Sierra Daniger ’19
Honorable mentions: Val Varanese ’19, Kayla Brown ’18, Madeline Bruce ’17
The women’s soccer team finished the season with a record of 19-1-1, with their only loss coming against Washington University in St. Louis at Nationals. Daniger was a huge reason for this success, as she led the team to 14 shutouts while stopping more than 91% of the shots that came her way. The opponents’ five goals for the entire season meant that Daniger’s average was only giving up a goal every four games. Nearly the entire team returns next year, so look for Daniger and the women’s soccer team to advance even further, with their goal of advancing past the first round of the NCAA Tournament a real possibility.
Top Male Athlete: Drake Sykes ’17
Honorable mentions: Phelipe Graske ’18, Alec Jordan ’17, Justin Dunn ’19
In only three seasons at Knox, Sykes managed to slip into the baseball team’s record book under the career hits, total bases and stolen bases categories. Sykes was named to the All-Midwest Conference team after each of his three years at Knox. With his .441 batting average and .542 on-base percentage, Sykes ranked in the top 20 in the country, while also leading the MWC in six separate categories.
Top Coach: Paul Lawrence
Honorable mention: Emily Cline, Tyler Sheikh
After several strong recruiting classes, Coach Lawrence helped lead the women’s soccer team to their best finish ever, with a 19-1-1 record and a NCAA Tournament appearance. Lawrence, who helped take the women’s soccer program at Knox to new heights as a national powerhouse, left after the season to take the same position at Florida Southern College. Coach Chris Haught-Thompson has taken over the head coaching position and will look to help the women’s soccer team improve upon their historic 2016 season.
Top Female Rookie: Kyra Huffman ’20
Honorable mention: Jarrelyn McCall ’20, Samantha Nichols ’20, Maddie Byrne ’20
Huffman led the way for the women’s basketball team this season, leading the team with her 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Finishing with a 14-11 record on the season, the team just missed out on the Midwest Conference Championship tournament. Huffman, who went down with a knee injury late in the season, had the women’s basketball team in position to make the MWC tournament prior to going down. Huffman’s injury should not stop her from helping the team reach new heights next year when the team returns all but one player.
Top Male Rookie: Trevan Lowtharp ’20
Honorable mention: Joey Auger ’20, Brendan Powers ’20
With a 3.22 earned run average in 10 games, Lowtharp was able to step up for the baseball team this year. Lowtharp led the team with 50.1 innings pitched, picking up the slack when senior ace Jordan went down to injury. Lowtharp will take an even bigger role next season when he tries to improve upon his strong rookie year. The team will need Lowtharp and other young pitchers to take a collective step forward to fill in for the void left by graduating seniors.
Best Game: Women’s soccer defeats Grinnell 1-0 to win the Conference Championship.
Honorable mention: Water polo falls just short of Nationals, women’s soccer defeats Grinnell 7-1.
The women’s soccer team defeated Grinnell in the Conference Championship title game 1-0, sealing the team’s first ever MWC Championship. Brown scored the game-winning goal in the 51st minute, allowing the team to focus on defending their goal. This victory on their home field in front of Knox fans landed the team a spot at the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the team’s history. Finishing with a dominant 9-0 record against MWC opponents, the women’s soccer team should repeat their success next year, as they will not lose a single player to graduation.