Sports / The Prairie Fire / March 1, 2017

Track and Field prepares for spring

Senior Jeremy Rainey-Brown, junior Donnye Sommerville, sophomore Malik Hamilton and freshman Joey Auger race during practice in preparation for the MWC tournament. Rainey-Brown, Sommerville and Hamilton were part of the four person relay team along with junior Shadrack Ofori-Boadi that medaled in the 4×400 race at the conference tournament. (Dan Perez/TKS)

The Knox Track and Field team competed last weekend in the Midwest Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships, challenging or beating several team records.

After the two day event, the Men’s 4×400 relay team of senior Jeremy Rainey-Brown, juniors Shadrack Ofori-Boadi, Donnye Sommerville and sophomore Malik Hamilton medaled, as did sophomore Val Varanese in the 60 yard dash.

In addition to those who managed to medal in their events, a handful of Knox Track and Field records were toppled or seriously challenged, with many Prairie Fire competitors placing in the top ten in their events.

With this strong showing, the Knox Track and Field team continues to gear up for their spring season. This build up has been in the minds of members of the team since before conference, says Hamilton.

“I’ve been dealing with a nagging quad injury, so I haven’t been quite where I’ve needed to be at, but I just felt stronger on conference. [My quad] felt right for the first time in a while,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton, a key member of the Men’s 4×400 relay team that medaled, explained the importance of this single unit to the scoring system, saying that this is where they “score the most. In individuals, we can more than likely get someone in the top eight, but we are more competitive on our relays.”

Junior Caroline Hickey runs during practice just before the MWC championships, as Coach Randy Overby looks on in the background. Hickey was part of the 4×200 relay team that finished sixth on the first day of the tournament along with sophomores Rose Unger and Val Varanese and freshman Michaela Kowlewski. (Dan Perez/TKS)

The throwers for the team are relatively young and inexperienced. Sophomore Mario Whitley explained the learning curve, saying, “Half of the guys are experienced throwers so we were able to pick some things up. As far as watching them and learning from [Coach] Devin [Compton], there was a learning curve but it wasn’t really hard.”

There are seven throwers on the Men’s side, with three of them being returning athletes. Three of these seven throwers placed in the top 20 for both weight and shot put at the tournament.

The Women’s throwers face many of the same challenges as their teammates. Sophomore Alice Lee, a two-year throwing veteran, explained the performance of the throwing group, saying, “For throwers at least, we didn’t do that well at conference.”

The Women’s throwers are not content with their performance, as Lee explained, “During practices we’re really relaxed, and tend to goof off a little bit, so we’re going to focus more on [changing] that for the spring season.”

Lee and Whitley emphasized both technique and consistency, though whether this is because of the growing number of new throwers still learning remains to be seen.

While the Men’s runners focus on group efforts, the Women’s team relies upon individual events.

Freshman Michaela Kowalewski had multiple strong finishes in conference events, and the 4×200 relay achieved a time good enough for sixth place, while Varanese came close to a handful of her own school records.

Varanese highlighted the amount of work being done by the Women’s team, saying, “It’s been a lot of work that has been worth it towards the end. We’ve been working, if you weren’t in season, since the beginning of Fall term.”

The lofty expectations for the team come from Coach Randy Overby, as Varanese explained, “Coach O was super happy with how everything turned out, a lot of new records and personal records. And I think he is even raising [expectations] for outdoor season.”

With these high expectations, both the Men’s and Women’s Track and Field teams look to prove to their conference rivals that the hard work they have invested in their individual crafts can catapult the team to a successful spring season.

Tags:  alice lee Caroline Hickey donnye sommerville jeremy rainey-brown joey auger knox college indoor track knox college track and field malik hamilton mario whitley michaela kowalewski randy overby rose unger shadrack ofori-boadi val varanese

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