Featured / Sports / The Prairie Fire / May 14, 2014

On the pitch and in the pool: Naming the Best in Knox Athletics for 2013-2014

Male Athlete of the Year

James Fenner – Men’s golf

The senior golfer capped his career on a high note by taking the MWC Conference title as well as finishing with a career best 77.7 scoring average. Fenner was in contention going into the final day of the tournament and fired the low round of the day en route to capturing the title. Honorable mentions go out to soccer sophomore Nathaniel Logie, whose team-leading 16 goals helped propel the Prairie Fire to the semi-finals of the conference tournament, and football senior Derek Mortensen who finished with 1380 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Runners-up: Mortensen, Logie

Female Athlete of the Year

Madeline Bruce – Women’s swimming

Freshman Madeline Bruce swims the 100 yard butterfly during the meet hosted at Monmouth College Saturday, Jan. 17. (Michelle Orr/TKS)

Freshman Madeline Bruce stole the show for the Knox swim team when she broke four school records at the MWC Conference Championships. (TKS Archives)

Knox’s breakout freshman swimmer easily qualifies not only as the female athlete of the year, but also the most inspirational story of the 2013-14 athletic campaign. Bruce’s swim career was put in jeopardy due to repeated breakdowns caused by her anemia, but after she got her condition under control there was no stopping her improvement starting the fall. She broke four school records at the MWC Championships in February and set a foundation for what could be a historic Knox career.

Runner up: Amber Eisha

Coach of the Year

Matt Edwards – Men’s soccer

Coach Edwards reinvigorated the men’s soccer program last season, and his continued intensity helped the Prairie Fire clinch their first berth in the MWC Tournament. His recruiting efforts have shaped a roster with talent from across not only the country but also the world, and his ability to keep the team disciplined defensively made them one of the tougher sides in the conference. Knox men’s soccer was struggling to win games just three years ago; now there are championship level expectations going into every season.

Runner up: Miriam Skrade

Game of the year

Men’s soccer’s 2-1 OT win over Grinnell 

Sophomore Nathaniel Logie drives towards the goal against the Grinnell Pioneers on Saturday, Oct. 5th. at Jorge Prats Field. Saturday’s victory marked the 11th consecutive win, setting a record for soccer. (Jason Deschamps/TKS)

Sophomore Nathaniel Logie drives towards the goal against the Grinnell Pioneers on Saturday, Oct. 5th. at Jorge Prats Field. Logie scored 16 goals for the Prairie Fire this season. (Jason Deschamps/TKS)

Not only was the game simply exciting (as practically any overtime game has a right to be), but the victory secured a new school record for consecutive wins in a season at 11, was Knox’s first win against Grinnell since 2005 and ended just seven seconds before the end of overtime by the foot of Nathaniel Logie, who netted his 14th goal on the year. The win also kept junior keeper Sean Dockrell undefeated on the year, and was truly a statement game for the Prairie Fire, who had been glossed over in MWC championship talk but appeared more than ready to compete for a title as the year went on.

Runners-up: Women’s basketball defeats Grinnell 91-89, Men’s soccer defeats Lake Forest 2-1

Moment of the year

Gatyas’ game-winning tally on senior day

The implications of a win were tremendous: in knocking off Lake Forest College, the Prairie Fire would take down the only undefeated team in the MWC, thereby earning themselves a share of third place in the conference (and thus a spot in the MWC tournament), the win would be the team’s first against Lake Forest since the ‘90s and the team would have the chance to properly honor their seniors in their last home contest. In fitting and near fairytale form, senior and captain Max Gatyas would knock home the game-winning goal 60 minutes into an intense, chippy battle for the MWC crown.

Runner up: Nathaniel Logie’s game-winner against Grinnell

Surprise of the year

Baseball going 4-12 in conference, failing to make MWC tournament

Picked to win the MWC South, the Prairie Fire’s 2-8 start in conference play came as a shock to everyone. Undefeated against both Monmouth and Illinois College last year, it looked like a totally different team that took 23-8 and 8-0 losses to IC in the same day.

Freshman Ryan Weitendorf  lead the Knox baseball team with five homeruns this season, but the Prairie Fire fell short of preseason expectations. (TKS Archives)

Freshman Ryan Weitendorf lead the Knox baseball team with five homeruns this season, but the Prairie Fire fell short of preseason expectations. (TKS Archives)

While the team hit and pitched at nearly the same clip as they did in 2013, the team committed nearly 40 more errors over the course of the season. Such are the inconsistencies associated with youth, and are issues Knox is certain to address going into next year.

Runner up: Nathaniel Logie’s emergence on to the soccer scene


Gavin Crowell
Gavin Crowell is a senior psychology major with minors in neuroscience and journalism. He has been writing and editing for TKS since his freshman year. He has won three ICPA awards: 1st Place Sports News Story, 2nd Place Sports Feature Story and 3rd Place Sports Page Layout. During the summer after his sophomore year, Gavin had an internship with the Chicago Sun-Times, covering teams such as the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks and Fire. Following graduation, he intends to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology.
Jackson White
Jackson White is a senior double majoring in political science and secondary education. This is his third year as a sports editor for TKS. Over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year, Jackson worked for cornbeltbaseball.com, writing feature stories and columns about high school and college baseball in central Illinois. Outside of the Publications Office, he is an information assistant for the Knox College Sports Information Department and a two-time all-Midwest Conference baseball player. Jackson is the recipient of five awards from the Illinois College Press Association, including two first place awards for sports game coverage and sports page design.

Tags:  amber eisha derek mortensen james fenner madeline bruce matt edwards Max Gatyas miriam skrade nathaniel logie sean dockrell

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