Featured / Sports / The Prairie Fire / May 20, 2015

The best of 2014-15 Prairie Fire athletics

Gavin Crowell

Top female athlete of the year: Jodi Marver

The fact that senior Jodi Marver is my vote for female athlete of the year is as much an indication of a stellar career as anything else. Her four years of work have left her the leading scorer in Prairie Fire history, all of which arguably culminated in a Jan. 28 victory against rival Monmouth. The 111-90 victory broke a 25-game losing streak, while Marver led the team with 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Runner up: Dominique Scott

Top male athlete of the year: Drake Sykes

As a player on a 9-27 team, sophomore Drake Sykes does not exactly leap off the page as the male athlete of the year. However, a quick glance at his stats suggest that his work in the batter’s box was one of the team’s strongest points of attack. Skyes hit a stunning .432 (and this was no statistical anomaly, as Skyes led the team with 139 ABs) while also leading the team with 37 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .662. Combine that with the fact that he had the second highest fielding percentage among regular position players, and you have yourself one complete baseball player. While the season may not have gone the way Knox intended (okay, it definitely didn’t go the way they intended), Sykes provided an injection of youth, one that will remain for years to come. Runner up: Illir Emini

Coach of the year: Matt Edwards

I don’t think I’m going to get a whole lot of argument on this one. Edwards took his team from the bottom of the confrence to the very top in two years. Next category, please. Runner up: Miriam Skrade

Game of the year: Women’s basketball beats Monmouth at home

Maybe the best day for Knox athletics in a while. Few things come sweeter than beating a rival on your home turf; pretty much the only thing imaginable that could make it better would be ending a 25-game losing streak, and doing so by 21 points. And to boot, it would be helpful if both your men’s and women’s teams won on the same day, with one of them coming back from an 18-point deficit. The stands were rocking, the players were pumped up and the seniors were able to graduate with a win against Monmouth. Runner up: Softball breaks tie against Grinnell at home, highlights youth

Moment of the year: Freshman Shu Kitamura scoring game winning goal against IC at Knox

As if it wasn’t enough for Knox to host the MWC tournament for the first time in recent memory, they had to put on a show while doing it. In the only appropriate end for a tight, back-and-forth game between the Prairie Fire and Illinois College, freshman Shu Kitamura was able to find the back of the net in the 79th minute. The goal came to the tune of deafening cheers from a crowd that Knox proclaimed was perhaps one of the biggest in the history of the program. Former TKS editor-in-chief Julian Boireau appropriately titled his November story ‘Men’s soccer gives Knox somebody to love’, and he could not possibly be more correct. The soccer team’s success has provided Knox campus with a unifying force to get behind, something the campus has sorely missed in recent years. Runner up: Walter Palmer, Karl Ruzgas and Ashwin Kushwaha all winning consolation championships at MWC Tournament

Surprise of the year: Departure of Matt Edwards

Who would have thought that the man who gave Knox somebody to love would depart Galesburg so quickly? The move makes sense from a purely logistical point of view: he got a pay raise, gets to live in California rather than the Midwest (sorry Knox), and now presides in an area that is widely considered a hotbed for soccer talent. Still, Edwards’ arrival at Knox had a certain movie-like feel to it. He came in, turned a program around and led them on an exponential curve to success where they were just one win removed from a championship. Perhaps Edwards’ move is more painful than shocking, but it takes the cake either way. Runner up: Baseball’s fall from grace continues

Prediction for next year: Taytem Chapman makes a deep run in MWC Tournament

Freshman Taytem Chapman may not have found staggering success in the W-L columns, but she showed the potential that you look for in a young player. She consistently fought hard against more seasoned competition, and if she continues to build at the same rate that she did after her freshman campaign, she will more than likely be a force to be reckoned with much more quickly than the rest of the MWC would like.

Sam copy 2

Top female athlete of the year: Jodi Marver

With the Women’s Basketball team an up and coming force in Knox Athletics, Jodi Marver is one of the main contributors to this turnaround. The senior point guard has put in countless hours for the team, resulting in her repetitive success in conference games such as the widely celebrated Monmouth win, which Marver helped to clinch. The captain has been racking up points evenly throughout her four years, recording the most in Knox history, totalling 1,371. As strong athletes do, Marver has helped to raise the program’s standard to her own. Runner up: Kayla Brown

Top male athlete of the year: Nathaniel Logie

Junior Nathaniel Logie bodies the  ball away from his Illinois College opponent. Prairie Fire won 4-2 Wednesday, Oct. 29 at the Jorge Prats Field. (TKS Archives)

Junior Nathaniel Logie bodies the ball away from his Illinois College opponent. Prairie Fire won 4-2 Wednesday, Oct. 29 at the Jorge Prats Field. (TKS Archives)

It is no surprise that the Men’s Soccer team has some top notch athletes, but even among such a successful team junior Nathaniel Logie is a stand out. The striker had 13 goals and five game-winning goals this past season, leading the Midwest Conference with 28 points. Named the MWC Player of the Year as well as MWC Offensive Player of the Year this past season, Logie was also the first all-conference men’s soccer player from Knox since 2009, receiving the title his sophomore year. Runner up: Illir Emini

Coach of the year: Matt Edwards

I think it’s safe to say that Matt Edwards had nothing short of an incredible season with the Men’s Soccer team, easily taking the title coach of the year. Runner up: Emily Cline

Game of the year: Women’s basketball beats Monmouth, Volleyball beats Monmouth at Monmouth

You know it’s a big deal when an abroad student, like myself at the time, hears about a Knox game, thousands of miles away, the same night it happened. All of Knox was buzzing with excitement following the result, reminding students what it’s like to compete and win in a high stakes game. Nothing quite matches the defeat of our rival school on home soil. The Women’s Basketball team fought hard, pulling out the win 111-90, ending a 12 year losing streak against the Scots. Maybe now that they’ve tasted victory, Women’s Basketball will see a repeat. Runner up: Volleyball beats Monmouth at Monmouth

Moment of the year: Freshman Matt McCaffrey scoring the winning touchdown against Eureka after a 90 yard push in 90 seconds

It isn’t often that football is able to keep games close and exciting, forcing people to the edge of their seats right till the end, but then again this was no ordinary game. The Prairie Fire came back to win against Eureka with a seemingly impossible feat, covering 90 yards in 90 seconds of play with McCaffrey running it in the last two yards for the winning touchdown in the very last play of the game. This win allowed Knox to claim the Lincoln Trophy in the third annual Lincoln Bowl game. It also proved to be the beginning of a complete Knox fall sweep of Eureka. With McCaffrey’s impressive display this game, one of his first in college, we can only hope to see future repeats. Runner up: Freshman Shu Kitamura scoring the winning goal against IC in MWC semifinals

Surprise of the year: Knox’s loss to Carroll in MWC Tournament final, Matt Edwards departure

Knox’s impressive push this last season, almost undefeated, created the mindset of fans that Men’s Soccer could beat any opponent they were faced with. Making it to the final, the general feeling of fans was that Knox could pull out one final triumphant win and receive the MWC championship title, and against a team they had already beat, no less. No problem, right? Wrong. Perhaps they became a little too comfortable in their success, maybe they underestimated Max Thoma’s ability to strike during corners. Whatever the reason, Knox conceded their most heart-breaking goal of the season in the 87th minute. Close, but no cigar. Runner up:  Matt Edwards departure

Prediction for next year: Baseball makes it to the MWC tournament

Looking at baseball’s records the past few seasons, this may not seem to make a whole lot of sense. It’s no secret they have been on a downward slump. Like most sports at Knox currently, they have recently turned over a high number of players, leaving the team with holes and heaps of inexperience. Looking at the raw talent the team has, all they need is time to practice and play together, a test season much like this season. With another batch of first year talent, mixed with the experience and talent they have recently acquired, the baseball team will once again surface as a strong highlight of athletics.

Sam Watkins
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.

Tags:  drake sykes jodi marver matt edwards matt mccaffrey nathaniel logie Shu Kitamura taytem chapman

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1 Comment

May 22, 2015

There are two statistical errors associated with Jodi Marver in the story’s “Top female athlete of the year” paragraph. Jodi concluded a phenomenal four-year career as the second all-time leading scorer in Knox women’s basketball history (not the all-time leader) with 1,267 points (not 1,371). She finished just 18 points behind career scoring leader Brooke McKinney (1,285 points). Jodi’s season-by-season point totals are: 189, 373, 355, and 350. She is the only player to score 300 or more points in three straight seasons, and among the school records she set, her career total of 473 made free throws (#2 in Midwest Conference history) is staggering considering she never averaged more than 19.4 minutes per game in any of her four seasons.

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