In their final home meet in the 2013 season, the Knox College men’s and women’s indoor track teams finished third and fourth place respectively at the Knox Open on Saturday, Feb. 9.
When all was said and done, the teams combined for 29 season best performances, a result that pleased head coach Jason Haynes.
“We had the largest amount of season best [performances] since week two, which shows how much we have progressed this year, and I’m happy about that,” Haynes said.
On the men’s side, the Prairie Fire were led by the continued dominance of seniors Joe Puntoriero and Sean Choate. Puntoriero took first in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.77 seconds and now owns nine of Knox’s top 10 times in the event. Choate won the 3,000-meter run in a time of 9:11.40, finishing ahead of second place finisher and teammate freshman Victor Schultz.
The highlight of the day for the women’s team was a dominant performance in the 400 meter dash, where freshmen Carolina Goncalves and Shelby Holdener combined for a one-two finish.
“[Goncalves] has been running very strong this season, especially as a freshman,” Haynes said. “She really has surprised me with how far along she has come in a short time. Sometimes she doesn’t think of herself as a 400 [meter] runner, but she definitely is. [Holdener] made a significant improvement from her last time in the 400 meter run.”
Other top finishers for the Prairie Fire were freshmen Liz Reyes (third in the women’s mile) and Brennan McGlauchlen (third in the women’s shot put), as well as junior Weston Chenoweth (second in the men’s shot put).
Overall, Haynes was most pleased with the fact that the men were able to finish ahead of conference rival Beloit College by 32 points.
“Any time you go up against a conference school in a non-conference meet, you are looking at how you stack up against them. I was happy that the guys beat [Beloit] pretty handily,” Haynes said.
But Haynes still feels the Prairie Fire have some room for improvement in the final weeks of the season.
“We are still fine tuning things before the conference meet,” Haynes said. “This weekend we are going to try out some new combinations on the relays on both the men’s and women’s side.”
Both the men’s and women’s 4×200 meter relay took second at the Knox Open, but have shifted lineups over the course of the year in part due to injuries. One of the runners to return to the lineup was senior Bobby Mueller, who suffered a hamstring injury earlier in the year. But since returning to the lineups, Haynes says he has been impressed with Mueller’s performances.
“You wouldn’t think he was injured at all,” Haynes said. “He’s pretty much back to where we expected him to be.”
With only one meet left before the Midwest Conference Championships, Haynes also recognized that the teams must push hard for the rest of the season.
“This meet before the conference finals is typically our best tune up. It’s still going to be a light atmosphere, but at the same time this is definitely a rehearsal for the big one,” Haynes said.
Knox will compete at the Illinois College Alumni Classic on Saturday, Feb. 15 in Jacksonville, Ill.