Baseball walk-off on Senior Day
The pinnacle of Senior Day would not come until the end of the second half of a Senior Day doubleheader, when Illinois College took a 4-3 lead in to the bottom of the 9th. The Prairie Fire watched a 3-0 lead dissolve into a 4-3 deficit in the final frame. However, on their day, the seniors were picked up by the underclassmen, as they filled the bases for senior Kyle Walenga to tie the game on a single, and for junior Phil Tallman to win it on a walk off single. The dugout erupted when junior Michael O’Connell stomped on home plate, with the victory making this Prairie Fire squad the winningest baseball team in Knox history, both in conference and overall record.
Runner-up: Senior Donald Tchopya’s goal to give Knox the lead on Senior Day.
Basketball double OT against Monmouth
Rivalry games always seem to carry a little extra weight, and this game against Monmouth was no exception. Barring one game against Grinnell, Knox’s double overtime loss to Monmouth was the most well attended game of the year, doubling the attendance of even the season opener. The team was 1-18 at that point, and yet the fans came out in droves. The game did not disappoint: after going down 11 after the first half, the Prairie Fire stormed out to tie the ballgame on 52 percent shooting and stifling defense. A Knox free throw to force OT with 30 seconds to go and a Prairie Fire three pointer to send the game into double OT were the high points of the game. While Knox lost, the game sent a charge through the student body.
Runner-up: Football’s 35-33 win over Beloit.
Male Athlete of the Year
It’s hard to improve upon a year that earns you All-Conference honors, but senior Caleb Weaver did just that. After transferring to Knox prior to his junior year, Weaver earned a spot on the 2012 All-Midwest Conference South Division Team. This year, Weaver stepped his game up in nearly every offensive category on the board: he hit .396, had 39 RBIs, set a school record with 57 hits and tied the all-time mark with 15 doubles. His season was good enough to earn him the MWC Co-Player of the year and a spot on D3baseball.com’s All-Central Region second team, becoming just the third Knox player to earn the honor in the past ten years.
Runner-up: Sean Choate
Female Athlete of the Year
En route to an 11-5 season in singles play, junior Charlotte Garvin put together a run in the Midwest Conference singles championship, making it to the semifinals before she lost to Clothilde Thirouin of Grinnell 6-4, 6-7 (1-7), 0-6. Garvin was clearly one of the leaders for Prairie Fire tennis, as she was the only one on the team to post a winning record in singles on the season. For her accomplishments on the court, Garvin received the Michael Loomis Award from Knox, which is awarded to the female student-athlete selected as the “outstanding performer in an individual sport” in a given year.
Runner-up: Amber Eisha
Bold Prediction for 2013-14
Men’s soccer will finish in top 4 in the MWC
A top four spot in the MWC would earn the Men’s Soccer team a berth in the MWC Tournament, and to do so they would need to move up five slots in the standings from last year. While a team that went 6-9-2 overall and 2-6-2 in conference might not seem to be primed to make a playoff run, wins and losses can often be deceiving. Knox is returning four of its top five goal scorers, two of which are just entering their sophomore year. As such, the potential for the Prairie Fire is unbounded; it’s just a matter of whether young, fresh talent can take over. And I think it can.