Sports / The Prairie Fire / May 23, 2018

Looking ahead: athletes to keep an eye on

Junior Dalton James swings at a pitch during a game. He led the team with a .396 batting average. James is looking for a strong senior season next year. (Katy Coseglia / TKS)

Baseball — Junior Dalton James

James led the baseball team with a .396 batting average and 25 runs batted in. Next year, he will look to step into an even bigger role and lead a young Prairie Fire team back to the MWC tournament for the first time since 2013.

Men’s basketball — Freshman Blake Godbold

Finishing with a record of 7-18, the men’s basketball team posted the most wins since Kevin Walden arrived as coach in 2012. Godbold led the team in minutes and rebounds per game, while finishing second in points per game.

Women’s basketball — Sophomore Jarrelyn McCall

McCall led the women’s team in scoring during a record-breaking season, as the Prairie Fire posted their highest win total since the 1989-90 season and most conference wins ever. Returning all five starters next year, expect the women’s basketball team to compete for the MWC title.

Men’s cross country — Sophomore Samuel Hernandez

Hernandez shined all season long, as he consistently led Knox runners at meets. He is part of a young core for the Prairie Fire as they lose only one men’s runner, which should help as they look to compete next fall.

Women’s cross country — Junior Meaghan Dorsey

Dorsey managed to put her name in the Knox record books last year, finishing a race with the ninth fastest time in school history. Entering her senior year, Dorsey will look to continue her ascent to the top of the Knox cross country team.

Football — Junior Malik Hamilton

Hamilton, who also starred for track and field this year, led the Prairie Fire in receiving yards by a wide margin with 758. Hamilton also led the team in touchdowns, notching nine in only 10 games played. He’ll have to adjust to a new QB next year, but the production should be there regardless.

Men’s golf — Freshman Tijn de Jong

With the help of his fellow freshman phenoms, de Jong helped rejuvenate the men’s golf team. The team finished second at the MWC championships, with de Jong, junior Duncan Wheeler and freshman Jason White earning All-MWC recognition, along with coach K.C. Harding, who won coach of the year. This season seems to be the beginning of a new Knox golf dynasty.

Women’s golf — Freshman Shelby Keen

Though made up of only two members, the women’s golf team is on the rise for the second straight year. Keen and sophomore Sam Nichols finished in the top two spots at the Illinois College Spring Invite out of 16 competitors. Look for their stars to continue rising next season, hopefully with a fuller roster beside them.

Men’s soccer — Freshman Alessandro Benelli

Following a heartbreaking finish to their MWC title hopes in the fall, the men’s soccer team will need to fill the massive shoes of several star seniors. Benelli will look to step into the lead defenseman role this next season, having already shouldered much of the work this past year.

Freshman Mady Ferris passes a ball during a game. Ferris had almost 600 digs on the season and is coming back this Fall from a labrum tear and repair surgery. (Katy Coseglia / TKS)

Women’s soccer – Junior Corina Leyva

After reaching the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, the women’s soccer team will say goodbye to several players who helped build this dynasty. The roster will continue to overflow with talent next year, including midfielder Leyva, who scored three of the team’s four goals in their two MWC championship wins to advance to the NCAA tournament.

Men’s swimming and diving – Junior Joseph Hilger

While they’ll be losing several standout seniors this year, the men’s swimming team has a strong foundation of young talent to step into bigger roles. Hilger, a captain for the water polo team, will look to continue his strong Knox career and help lead the team to higher finishes next year.

Women’s swimming and diving — Sophomore Meredith Beck

The entire women’s team showed huge improvement at the MWC championships in the winter, with several personal records being set. Beck managed to set a Knox record for her 1m dive score of 346.55. With a strong culture of improvement set, the Prairie Fire will look to climb the team rankings next year.

Men’s tennis — Sophomore Jared Schwarz

Schwarz missed time this season due to injury, but will come back next season as one of the top players for a young squad. Look for his leadership and on-court performance to key a turnaround season.

Women’s tennis — Freshman Bhumika Gupta

With a large core of senior players graduating this year, the women’s tennis team will have to regroup with a younger squad. Gupta played this season as the number one in spite of the strong senior class, showing that she is a player to watch next Fall.

Men’s track and field — Freshman Hunter Lee

With a strong young core, the track and field program is clearly on the rise. Lee was a part of the strong season, participating in several relay teams that finished top-five, as well as in hurdles. Many of the strongest performers will be back next year, giving hope to a bright future.

Women’s track and field — Freshmen Rebekah Alexandre and Karah Polk

The women’s track and field team will be losing some top performers, but boasts more than enough depth to continue improving next year. The freshmen duo of Alexandre and Polk will help ease the losses, as both rose to the top of the team leaderboards in several capacities.

Volleyball — Freshman Mady Ferris

As just a freshman, Ferris led the team by a wide margin with her incredible 582 digs. Coach Ashley McDonough has told TKS that training the libero position is her specialty, so keep an eye on Ferris as she continues to grow next fall.

Jonathan Schrag, Managing Editor
Jonathan Schrag is a junior majoring in Political Science and double minoring in Educational Policy Studies and History. He has been writing for TKS since Fall Term of his freshman year and has contributed to News, Sports and Discourse. He served as the Sports editor during his sophomore year and has won several awards from the Illinois Collegiate Press Association.

Tags:  alessandro benelli bhumika gupta blake godbold corina leyva Dalton James duncan wheeler hunter lee jared schwarz jarrelyn mccall jason white jonathan schrag joseph hilger karah polk mady ferris malik hamilton meaghan dorsey meredith beck prairie fire rebekah alexandre sam nichols samuel hernandez shelby keen sports tijn de jong tks

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