Category Archives: Sports

Athlete Spotlight: Hannah Frazier


By Maggie Franke

Unbeknownst to Wheaton College, junior basketball player Hannah Frazier has not been playing basketball since birth. Starting with little league soccer, Frazier played sports for fun and to make friends. Basketball didn’t come into the picture until after a growth spurt.

“Honestly around 5th or 6th grade my mom and my dad put me in a league because I was tall,” Frazier said. “So I played, and I hated it at first. I was like, ‘this is way too much running.’ They kind of made me keep going.”

After a while, Frazier said that she began to enjoy basketball as she made friends and entered into more competitive atmospheres. In high school, Frazier played basketball and volleyball until her sophomore year; then she made her choice.

“I played basketball longer,” Frazier said, “more of my friends did it and I was better at it. I liked it more. I liked that it’s more physical. There’s an intensity to basketball that’s just fun.”

Basketball became the forefront of Frazier’s identity at Batavia high school. She graduated as Batavia’s all-time leading scorer and best rebounder with 2,089 points scored and 1,029 rebounds during her four years of playing. Frazier enjoyed the team-driven atmosphere of high school basketball in-comparison to her perception of a more individualized game played during the club season. Many girls focused on getting looks from college coaches during club whereas the team’s record was the top focus during high school.

“I realized toward my sophomore year that I could get looks to play in college,” Frazier said. “Then I realized that that was going to be a big goal of mine.”

Big goals were indeed accomplished for one of the areas top female basketball recruits of her high school class when she committed to St. Louis University’s (SLU) NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball program.

“I was enamored with the idea of getting a scholarship and going Division I,” Frazier said. “That was all that mattered to me, so I remember Coach Cuthbert actually reached out to me, and I don’t think I even considered that I was going to visit because A) I had been to Wheaton so many times growing up here and B) I wanted bigger.”

However, Frazier’s Division I basketball dreams had come true, but things did not end up being dream-like at the Division I level of play.

“As a freshman, it was tough because there were only two of us,” Frazier said. “I didn’t really meet a lot of people, and the schedule was in the Atlantic Ten Conference, so we were traveling a lot and for most games, we would have to miss two to three days of class.”

In 2017, Frazier transferred to Wheaton College as a sophomore, following the footsteps of her great-grandparents, grandparents and parents (Erin Frazier ‘93 and Jeff Frazier ‘92). Her dad played football and wrestled for the Thunder, and her mom played basketball for Wheaton in the 90’s as well. Her brother, senior Noah Frazier, plays for Wheaton’s football team as a tight end.

“I was so glad that they gave me the time of day after I pretty much told them no,” Frazier said. “Then they let me come visit and transfer here.”

As a sophomore, Frazier was honored as the CCIW Newcomer of the Year, and made a considerable impact on the court for the Thunder. But there was more to Frazier’s changed experience than just the differences in her play.

“The Division I life is just so competitive and like a business,” Frazier said. “There is a huge difference in the way Coach Madsen and Cuthbert all care about the players besides just on the court.”

As a transfer, Frazier noted that she experienced overwhelmingly welcoming behavior from every member of the basketball program.

“I actually got to workout with two of the seniors Maggie Dansdill and Jen Berg and they introduced me to the team,” Frazier said. “it was really fun to come in with those freshmen because we had that bond of “we are all the newbies here.” So it was nice to be a part of both classes. Now the team is so close that all the classes mingle. It is so great. I just loved the way that this team was so open-armed.”

Basketball was Frazier’s life in high school and during her freshman year at SLU, but her experiences as a college athlete have reminded her that basketball is just a game. “Now, it’s taken the highs and lows to get back to that point where I’m playing because it’s fun and I’m with people that I love and coaches that support me,” Frazier said. “It’s not about accolades or success, and it’s not about the lows that get you down.” The Wheaton Women’s Basketball team theme to “love one another” could not be more fitting to the experience that Frazier has had in King Arena. Frazier raved about the benefits of being a basketball player at Wheaton and expressed her sincere gratitude toward her coaches and teammates for the opportunity to play for and with them.

“I like that Wheaton is perceived as a Christian school,” Frazier said. “Most of the time they do respect us when we pray at half court at the end of all our games. We have had teams that wouldn’t do it, but that’s their choice. I love that at Wheaton we are Christians first and foremost.”

Basketball might not always be a part of Frazier’s daily life in the future, but there are values learned from her time on the court that she will carry on through the rest of her life. “Even if you’re not playing in college, in high school too, the coaching and the learning to work well with others and problem solve … is hugely overlooked in terms of what it brings to your education,”

Frazier said.

Frazier was named CCIW Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for the second straight week. However, Frazier is conscious of the fact that her time on the court may be nearing its end.

“I have one more year left, and that’s kind of sad. I feel like I just started playing college basketball,” Frazier said. “I am just looking forward to making the most of this last year with my team and really enjoying Wheaton.”

Winter season wrap-up

As competitions come to an end, athletes ready for tournaments and the post-season


By Maggie Franke

Mid-February is here, and many sports are nearing their post-season. Swimming and wrestling have just days left in their seasons, and everyone is counting down the days until March Madness begins for college basketball. It’s time for an update on how, when and where these final tournaments and competitions will take place.

First up is the Wheaton Wrestling team which competed in the CCIW Conference Championship Tournament last weekend. The team placed fourth overall with 79.5 points, and North Central College defended their 2017-18 CCIW Conference Champions title.

The biggest headline from the tournament was junior Isaac Odell’s 184-pound CCIW Championship victory. Odell bested North Central’s 184-pound competitor in the final moments of the second period where he earned a 1-0 decision. Senior Jonavan Huggins finished second at 165-pounds and Ethan Harsted was the 133-pounds runner-up as well.

The Thunder Wrestling team will compete in the NCAA Upper-Midwest Regional Tournament on Feb. 22-23 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The Wheaton College Swimming teams will compete in the CCIW Conference Championship meet today through Saturday at the RecPlex in Pleasant Prairie, Wisc. Carthage College is looking to defend both the Men’s and Women’s 2018 CCIW Champions titles after their strong performance last year. However, both of the Thunder swimming teams hope to upset the Lady Reds and Red Men this year. Freshman Chris Haase competed in the CCIW Diving Championships last weekend and placed fourth in the one-meter and three-meter diving competition. The points he scored for the Thunder will contribute to the Wheaton Men’s Swimming and Diving team’s overall score.

Besides the team competition, Wheaton’s swimmers will also compete to qualify for the NCAA Division III Nationals meet in a month. Last year, senior Christopher Szymczak, sophomore Will Rinne, sophomore Christian Cameron and senior Brooke Barnes all competed in the nationals meet. Since then, Wheaton have added some strong freshmen talent to their team which will boost their chances of qualifying more athletes to the big show.

While the Wheaton wrestlers compete in the regional tournament, Wheaton’s track and field teams will be competing at the CCIW Indoor Track & Field Championships. Last year, the men placed third overall. The women are looking to defend their 2018 CCIW Indoor Track & Field Team Champions title. Junior Favor Ezewuzie and sophomore Hannah Roeske each won individual events in the meet last year, Ezewuzie with two school-record times in both of the sprint hurdle distances and Roeske with a CCIW Indoor Meet Record and school record time in the 3000-meter run.

The CCIW Indoor Track & Field Championships will be held at North Central’s indoor track in Naperville, Ill. on Feb. 22-23.

Both Wheaton’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams were scheduled to compete in their final game of the regular season last night against Millikin University. The men won 81-73, while the women were forced to postpone after travel issues prevented their arrival at Millikin last night. The game was postponed until today, Feb. 14. at 7 p.m.

On the men’s side, Augustana College has already been declared the CCIW Champion of the regular season, and North Central College, Wheaton College, Illinois Wesleyan University and Elmhurst College have qualified for the CCIW Championship Tournament. This means that Augustana will most likely host the tournament, and Wheaton will be the number-three or number-four seed.

On the women’s side, Wheaton College has already been declared the CCIW Champion of the regular season, and Illinois Wesleyan University, Carthage College and Augustana College have qualified for the CCIW Championship Tournament. As a result, Wheaton will most likely host the tournament and be the top seed, but IWU will prove to be a tough competitor for the Thunder similar to recent years.

The first game of the tournament for both genders will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

While many of these post-season events are not hosted by Wheaton College, most are within an hour drive of campus thanks to the proximity of the schools within the CCIW. The Thunder needs as much support as possible especially at the end of their seasons, and Wheaton’s potential hosting of the CCIW Women’s Basketball Tournament could hold a lot of excitement for Thunder sports fans.

Athlete Spotlight: Aston Francis


By Maggie Franke

Anyone at Wheaton or with access to a computer could look up any fact they would want to know about Wheaton senior Aston Francis and his skills on the court. However, basketball is more than just numbers to Wheaton’s star player.

“I started playing when I was four or five, but I’ve been around it all my life. I played soccer and baseball and everything when I was really little, and as I grew up I really started playing just basketball and baseball in high school,” Francis said.

Francis’s dad was his athletic director and coach when Francis was in high school in Tyler, Texas. During his childhood, Francis’s dad would point out different plays on TV which allowed Francis to watch basketball in a different, more critical way as he grew into a basketball player himself. “We butted heads a little bit when I was younger,” Francis said. “When I was a junior and senior I matured a little bit because I knew where he was coming from. It made our relationship a lot stronger, and I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to play for him growing up.”

Francis also noted that his skills drastically improved when he was a junior in high school. Thoughts of playing in college turned into plans to play in college. One of Francis’s high school crosstown rivals was a now Wheaton senior: Trevor Gunter. Wheaton’s Head Coach Mike Schauer was recruiting Gunter during his senior year and ended up watching a game where Gunter and Francis played each other.

“[Shauer] ended up recruiting me,” Francis said, “and then I actually enrolled at Texas A&M to just be a student but changed my mind last minute and was able to go to a junior college. Coach Shauer kept recruiting me and then I came up after that freshman year at TJC.”

Tyler Junior College is located in Tyler, Texas and Francis attended TJC during his freshman year of college. Academically, Francis noted that the school was not entirely challenging, but the majority of players that he played against and with were DI-bound.

“The level of play was pretty high and very athletic,” Francis said, “so I had to get bigger, faster, stronger really quick to be able to compete with those guys.”

At TJC, Francis said that he averaged four-five minutes of play per game and did not get the same amount of play time that he gets here at Wheaton, but introducing a rigorous weight-lifting regimen changed Francis’s game and took it to the next level.

“It definitely made me work hard,” Francis said. “I think I was really fortunate to go to TJC because my work ethic changed a lot while I was there.”

Then Francis’s journey as a basketball player brought him to Wheaton College. Coming in as a sophomore during the 2016-17 season, Francis noted that he made fast friends with some of the freshmen, specifically Jay Spencer and Spencer Peterson. As he played, practiced and spent more time with the entire team, Francis found himself identifying with the entire team and knowing more of his teammates at a personal level.

“It’s definitely been good socially because I’ve met some people through basketball that I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Francis said. “I’ve formed some really long-lasting relationships especially with the guys on the team, the coaches and even the guys in the training room.”

As a member of the Thunder Men’s Basketball team, Francis said that beating Augustana College and Whitworth College last year were two games that were especially special to him looking back. “We played super well as a team, went into their place and beat them and got some national exposure,” Francis said.
The Wheaton Thunder Men’s Basketball team lost to Augustana yesterday night with a final score of 93-83. Francis’s 38 points were not enough to overcome the top ranked team in the CCIW.

“Being at Wheaton has helped me to find the correlation between my faith and competing; they aren’t separate. They work together,”

Aston Francis

Francis hopes to continue playing basketball as long as possible and would take the opportunity to play professionally if it became a possibility. However, after he can no longer play himself at a competitive level, Francis sees himself following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a coach because he loves the game wholeheartedly.

“Being at Wheaton has helped me to find the correlation between my faith and competing; they aren’t separate. They work together,” Francis said. “I definitely still have a ways to go, but I think I’ve gotten better at seeing that I am a Christian first and an athlete second, so I need to show that while I am on the court.”

Francis and the Wheaton Men’s Basketball team will host their final home game of the season, and of Francis’s collegiate basketball career, on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. in King Arena against Millikin University.

Thunder wrestling preps for post season


By Maggie Franke

The Wheaton Wrestling team hosted the Pete Wilson Invitational on Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26. The Chrouser Recreation Complex filled with wrestlers from across the country as spectators, parents, friends and family flooded the stands.

“The Pete Wilson Invitational is the such a special opportunity for wrestlers because it is the largest and longer running DIII tournament, outside of the national tournament,” junior Isaac Odell said.

Over the course of the two-day tournament, wrestlers from 38 different teams competed in six different weight classifications ranging from 125-pounds to 285-pounds.

“This tournament is always awesome because of the great competition,” Odell commented. “It is really cool that teams … we don’t usually see come to this tournament. It is always fun to wrestle new people.”

The Thunder wrestlers ended up finishing 18th overall in the team competition. Both senior Carlos Fuentez and junior Odell were the runner-ups in their own weight classes.

Going into the final, Odell maintained a calm mentality. “More importantly, just keeping in mind that I was not just wrestling for myself but … wrestling to glorify my Lotrd and savior, Jesus Christ. Being the runner-up at this tournament is awesome. Of course, I would have liked a different outcome in the finals, but I am still happy.”

Wheaton finished seventh place out of 35 teams last year. However, while an 18th place finish as a team overall this year might seem like a major loss for the Thunder, half of the teams in the top 20 at the 2019 Pete Wilson Invitational were different from the top 20 teams at the 2018 Pete Wilson Invitational. North Central College was a newcomer to the tournament this year, and they finished second overall as a team.

Five schools from the CCIW competed in the Pete Wilson Invitational: Millikin University, North Central College, Elmhurst College, Augustana College and, the Pete Wilson Invitational’s host, Wheaton College. This weekend, the Pete Wilson invite was an opportunity for the Thunder to get a sneak peek at what the

North Central, who placed second overall in the tournament, is the front-runner for the CCIW team title. Millikin and Elmhurst finished 9th and 13th respectively, and they will also prove to be tough competitors for Wheaton to face in a week. However, the Thunder has a game plan going into their championship season.

“The post-season part of the season is always really fun,” Odell said. “These tournaments are the best. There is good competition and the stakes are high, so it is going to be really exciting.”

Wheaton finished in fourth place, closely behind Elmhurst at the 2018 CCIW Championship Tournament, and Fuentez will have the opportunity this year to defend his 2018 124-pounds CCIW Wrestling Champion title. Odell and junior Max Gierke finished third and fourth in the tournament last year, and the door of opportunity is also open for them to pin down more points with higher place finishes.

Either way, Odell said that their coach is always telling them to, “give God the glory in wins and losses.”

On Super Bowl Sunday campus gathers for game and worship


By Abram Erickson

Just because students are away from home doesn’t mean they don’t get excited for the Super Bowl. All around campus on Sunday night, students gathered with friends to celebrate the big game. Some were in it for the football, others for the food and some just for the commercials. What was common across the board, however, was the way the game brought people together.

Festivities on campus actually began well before the Los Angeles Rams kicked off to the New England Patriots to start Super Bowl LIII at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday night in Atlanta. Bon Appétit got the weekend off to a great start with their annual Super Bowl party on Friday night in Anderson Commons. Students were treated to a spread of game day food like wings, sliders and nachos, followed by a giveaway that saw multiple gift baskets and a Vizio TV raffled off to students.

On the day of the game, students prepared for kickoff, stocking up on snacks to last them throughout the evening. Just before the game started, at around 5:15 p.m., the line in front of The Stupe swelled well past its normal length as students attempted to grab dinner before the game began.

Some students retreated to their rooms to watch with smaller groups of close friends, while others attended one of the multiple parties happening around campus, like those held at Fischer and Smith-Traber Halls. One other Super Bowl party, brand-new this year, was put on by THE U in collaboration with World Christian Fellowship and the Class Chaplains.

Held in the Phelps Room in the Lower Beamer Center, senior Jaelin Goldsmith, one of the lead organizers of the event, told me that somewhere from 50 to 60 students attended to catch the game and the worship service that followed. Originally seen as simply another Super Bowl party for students to attend, it was Student Chaplain of Leadership Development Brennan Burrows who Goldsmith said had the idea to make the party a worship night as well. “Brennan kind of challenged me, and said ‘Bro, we’ve got to have a service afterward,’” Goldsmith said.

THE U, which stands for Together Here Eternally United, is a campus organization focused on ministering to students here on Wheaton’s campus. “We’re striving to be one of the main on-campus ministries,” Goldsmith explained. “We felt that Wheaton students do a lot of things, ministry-wise, off-campus. Now that’s not bad. If you’re called to go into the high school realm … more power to you. But we [Goldsmith and Danny Freed, Wheaton ‘18, currently a youth pastor at Grace Church in Chaska, Minn.] really wanted to create a ministry specifically that goes back into our campus.”

THE U also strives to live out Acts 2:42, their foundational verse, which reads, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” This verse provides the four pillars that Sunday’s event, and all of THE U’s events, seek to bring to students: teaching, fellowship, food and prayer.

The Super Bowl provided the grounds for fellowship, while THE U, the Class Chaplains and WCF provided the food. After the game ended and the confetti finished streaming down on the field, freshman Class Chaplain Jordan Burton spoke and gave his testimony before Burrows and Julia Primuth led worship. After that, they wrapped up the night with prayer.

As for the Super Bowl itself, many found it to be underwhelming, though it was a historic night. With the Patriots winning 13-3 in a defensive battle, not only was the game the lowest-scoring in Super Bowl history, but it also saw Patriots quarterback Tom Brady earn his sixth Super Bowl ring, the most obtained by any NFL player.

While the game in Atlanta may have been disappointing to some, on Wheaton’s campus, the community didn’t disappoint. “It turned out to be a pretty good night. I would say everyone that was there would probably say that the service was better than the game,” Goldsmith joked. “And the worship was probably better than the halftime show.”

Athletes get a break from class but not from competition


By Maggie Franke

From Dec. 21 until Jan. 14, most Wheaton College students enjoyed their heavily anticipated winter break. However, the campus was not completely quiet during this time, especially for a number of Wheaton’s athletes. From basketball to wrestling to swimming, the extent of Christmas “break” looked a bit different for these student-athletes.

Senior basketball players Aston Francis and Jennifer Berg both said that they got a week off for Christmas, but they had to be back on campus for training on Dec. 26.

“We had daily practice and games twice a week over break,” Berg said.

The Wheaton Women’s Basketball team traveled to Bluffton, Ohio to compete in the Bluffton University Holiday Tournament where they beat Wilmington College 70-57 and Bluffton University 67-47. Then they had three CCIW matchups in a row against Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU), Carroll University and Millikin University on Jan. 2, 5 and 9. The most important game was against IWU, the Thunder’s closest competitor for the CCIW Champion title, which Wheaton won in a nail-biter with a final score of 56-54.

Berg said that the training and competition over the academic break kept the team in shape and allowed them to have more opportunities to compete. The men’s team had a similar schedule.

They initially faced off against the Illinois Institute of Technology on Dec. 29 and lost 75-72. However, the Thunder successfully rebounded with four straight CCIW wins against Carthage College, Carroll University, Millikin University and Elmhurst College.

“Training over Christmas break allows us to not get too rusty between games,” Francis said. “It’s also is a great opportunity to bond as a team. We get to spend a lot of time together and get to know our teammates better.”

Both Wheaton swim teams had a Christmas training schedule as well. Arriving back on campus on Jan. 7, the swimmers got to celebrate Christmas and New Years at home before a heavy week of training. Senior swimmer Stephen Larsen emphasized the importance of this training week for the swim teams because there is much less time to training between the start of second semester and the CCIW Championship meet in February.

“We had double practices every day we were back,” senior swimmer Daniel Deysher said. “We trained approximately five hours a day Tuesday Jan. 8 through Friday Jan. 11.”

“This year’s break, we had both organized training and competition,” senior swimmer Bethany Doyle said. “We only trained on campus. [In] previous years, however, we have gone to a swimming facility called the LABS, and two years ago, we went on a training trip to California, but we only go on a training trip every three years.

On Saturday, Jan. 12, the team hosted a quad meet against Hope College, Kalamazoo College and Lake Forest College. The Wheaton Men’s Swim team won the meet with 558 points, and the Wheaton Women’s Swim team placed second in the meet 490.5 points.
The Wheaton wrestling team also spent some time on campus training. Since Christmas break splits their season in half, the wrestlers need to do whatever they can to be in their best shape by the time the Pete Wilson Wheaton Invitational rolls around during the last weekend of January.

“We practiced twice a day over break,” Gierke said. “A morning practice of strength and conditioning as well as “bonus” technique work. The afternoon practice is a typical one where we have drilling, technique, and live wrestling, totalling four and a half hours a day over break.”

Jan. 12, the Saturday before school started up again, the Thunder wrestlers travelled to North Manchester, Ind. to compete in the Spartan Mat Class. According to Gierke, both senior Carlos Fuentez and junior Isaac Anderson were tournament champions in their respective weight class, and the team finished second overall out of 22 teams.

Besides just the training, each athlete agreed that the time on campus or off-campus as a group allowed them to spend a lot of exclusive time with each other.

“We watched Netflix together, ate meals together and volunteered at the Carol Stream Community Outreach Center,” Berg said.

Francis said that many members of the Men’s Basketball team also enjoyed movie watching, Fortnite playing and eating Chipotle.

While many of the athletic teams at Wheaton eat most of their meals together and room with each other, the opportunity to spent a week or so with collegiate coaches and teammates really integrates the underclassmen into the team dynamic.

“Younger guys get an extended period of time to get to know the other guys on the team much better,” Gierke said.

There’s also the blessing of being able to focus, 100-percent on training. “The opportunity to train with no classes or other commitments allows for extra energy to be put into each practice,” Deysher said.

“Benefits for training over break include team bonding because we all stay together and are some of the few people back on campus and an opportunity to train very intensely to get into our best shape because we have nothing occupying our time but swimming,” Doyle also said.

Wheaton’s wrestlers, basketball players and swimmers all put in time over the break to become better athletes and invest in their relationships with their teammates and coaches. With winter seasons nearing their close in the next few months, the extra effort the Thunder put in over break might be the difference maker during conference and nationals competitions.

Should professional and collegiate athletes get a Christmas break?


By Taylor Rudin | Guest Writer

While for many this is the standard holiday scene at home, numerous collegiate and professional athletes are forced to diminish this time of celebrating reunion with friends and family is greatly due to unrelenting athletic commitments.

Depending on the level of competition, this time of fellowship may be reduced for collegiate athletes to a few days. The NCAA for Division I basketball mandates “three consecutive days off during the institution’s official vacation period after the first term of the academic year.” In comparison to the normal college student receiving approximately three weeks of time away from the hustle and bustle of college life, Division I student athletes have a mere 72 hours of break, which may or may not be on campus, depending on the coaches’ decision. According to Chris Isidore from CNN, Northwestern University’s football players “are allowed to leave campus for several days before Christmas, [but] they must report back by Christmas morning.” Regarding NCAA Division III athletics, the handbook has looser regulations, not mandating a specific break period following the fall semester. This trend impacts numerous competitors, prompting them to remain game-ready despite the declared “break.”

Critics of sports’ nonstop demands into the holidays argue they are one sign of the world’s “ever-creeping commercialization of Christmas,” according to Christopher Gasper from the Boston Globe. Sports offer distractions, encouraging fans to remain fixated on statistics and team records, both collegiate and professional, instead of celebrating reunification with family and friends. This phenomenon shifts the focus from renewing and deepening relationships and, in the case of the Christian, Jesus’s birth, to personal entertainment. In addition, the prolongation of athletic competition requires a continued commitment not only from players and coaches, but also from trainers, media personnel, sports facility maintenance crews and the workers’ families who are deprived of their loved ones’ presences. Gasper declares, “There are certain jobs too important to go unstaffed on Christmas — police officer, firefighter, emergency room physician, etc. Professional athlete is not one of them.” While acknowledging the need for certain workers to remain on duty in case of a civil emergency, in Gasper’s opinion, athletes do not fall into that category but still pull numerous people away from Christmas revelries for work, signifying society’s increasing commercialization.

On the other hand, John Amaechi, a former NBA player who writes for The Guardian, argues that sports provide entertainment, which is what people want during their break. Amaechi comments, “It was almost seen as a special treat to go to the game. In fact, many of these games are packed.” The demand for an exciting spectacle does not decrease with the holidays, and if anything, it increases, giving sporting events spirited, enjoyable chaos. Lasting only a few hours, most sporting events allow fans to spend the remainder of their day however they like, providing plenty of quality family time. In addition, Amaechi asserts the differences of each family’s traditions. Some center their holiday activities around attending sporting events as entire families, creating a space through sports for people to come together.

Athletes enjoying a Christmas break unaffected by sports is almost unheard of nowadays. As watchers and participants engage in the entertainment craze of the holidays, the original purpose of the break and meaning of Christmas can get jostled and lost among the chaos, but it could also be highlighted, uniting families through both viewing and competing in athletic contests. Whether this phenomenon overrides the meaning of Christmas or enhances it depends on the person.

Why basketball is a summer sport


By Eden Schultz | Staff Writer

Traditionally, all Winter Olympics sports are played exclusively on ice or in the snow. Hockey, figure skating and curling appear 24/7 on NBC during the Winter Olympics. The creation of basketball, in 1891 by YMCA instructor James W. Naismith, was for the purpose of playing a sport indoors when the weather was too cold. It’s remained this way ever since. So how come this traditional winter time activity is set to be played in the summer Olympics?

“To me it would make sense to have basketball be in the winter,” said senior captain Jennifer Berg.  “However, it could be that more people want to watch basketball in the Summer Olympics to get their basketball fix, since they normally watch it only during the winter months.”

One side of the discussion acknowledges that because the NBA competes in the winter, the season would have to be put on hold for professionals to compete, making the eight-month competition even longer. “I think they play it in the Summer Olympics because that is the NBA and many other leagues’ off-season,” said Wheaton Men’s Basketball senior Aston Francis. “Obviously, in the Olympics, we want to see the absolute best players in the world competing. In the winter, this wouldn’t be possible because virtually all of the best players would have to pass on the Olympics because of their obligation to their league team.”

There’s still an argument to be made for bringing basketball to the Winter Games. The Winter Olympics had only 15 sports in PyeongChang 2018, while the most recent Summer Olympics (Rio 2016) had 39 sports represented. With the Summer Games presenting more well-known sports, it’s a valid argument to say that there would be enough room for basketball to make the switch to the season it’s traditionally played in. The switch would also allow more countries to be represented in the Winter Olympics, leading to increased global investment in an otherwise rather exclusive event.
Though basketball has yet to appear in the Winter Olympics, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics will see the first appearance of three-on-three basketball. Seeing as winter is basketball season, be on the lookout for the Wheaton Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams. The women’s team has a game this coming Sunday at home at 5 p.m. against North Central, followed by the men’s team at 7 p.m.

Strong weekend for men’s and women’s swim teams


By Abram Erickson

The Wheaton Men’s and Women’s Swim teams hosted the Wheaton Invitational this weekend at the Jonathan Lederhouse Natatorium. The field of six teams included the Thunder, along with Hope College, Olivet Nazarene University, Washington University of St. Louis, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Augustana College.

Both Wheaton teams finished in second place overall in their meet, with the men’s team finishing with 726 points, second to Stevens Point’s 1,092 points. The women’s team finished with 745.5 points, a mere 41.1 points behind Washington University’s 786.6.

The weekend was full of impressive performances by Thunder swimmers, and many races that were determined by razor-thin margins.

For the women’s team, Brooke Barnes won the 100-yard freestyle in 51.14 seconds, improving over half a second from her national-best time, which was 51.69. Barnes also took first in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:51.67, but her time from the preliminaries was even better, which at 1:51.05 ranks third nationally in the event.

On the men’s side, Chris Szymczak won the 100-yard backstroke, with a national top-time of 50.02 seconds that ranks sixth-fastest in Division III this season. Szymczak also won the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:50.68.

Other strong individual efforts for the women included Michaela Sandeno, who won the 100-yard breaststroke with 1:06.47 and finished second in the 200-yard breaststroke. Priscilla Min finished third in the same race, with a time of 2:26.23, fourth in the 400-yard individual medley and fifth in the 200-yard individual medley (IM). Maggie Franke finished third in the 100-yard freestyle, Ashley Bowen took fifth in the 500-yard freestyle and Kirsten Peters finished fifth in the 200-yard backstroke. Abby Rutledge earned fifth place in the 100-yard butterfly and tied for second place in the 200-yard butterfly, with a time of 2:09.12.

Christian Cameron took fourth place in the men’s 100 fly with a time of 50.56 seconds, and third in the 50-yard freestyle. Ben Griffin took third in the 200-yard breaststroke and Jonathan Schofield finished fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke. Ben Mendez posted a fifth place finish in the 200-yard backstroke, finishing in just under two minutes at 1:59.88. Ethan Kile also earned two top-five finishes: fourth place in the 100-yard breaststroke and fifth in the 200-IM.

The relays were a source of excitement all weekend long, and one of the closest races of all was the women’s 400-yard freestyle relay, where the Thunder took second place with a time of 3:32.98. The team of Franke, Hannah Stevens, Rutledge and Barnes finished just behind Washington University’s team, who reached the wall at 3:32.91.

In another close race, the 400-yard medley relay team of Aleah Perkins, Sandeno, Rutledge and Barnes finished second by seven-hundredths of a second with a time of 4:01.34. Wheaton was victorious in the women’s 200-yard free relay, as the team of Franke, Alex McKeaney, Stevens and Barnes took first place with a time of 1:36.85. Another second place finish came in the 200-yard medley relay when Perkins, Sandeno, McKeaney and Rutledge finished in 1:51.08.

The men also had success in the relays, earning four second place finishes over the weekend. In both the 400-yard free relay and the 200-yard free relay, the team of Szymczak, Cameron, Daniel Deysher and Stephen Larson finished second, with times of 3:05.66 and 1:23.48, respectively. In the 200 medley relay, Szymczak, Griffith, Cameron and Larson finished second with 1:32.93, as did the 400 medley relay team of Szymczak, Kile, Cameron and Deysher, who finished with a time of 3:26.63. The men came extremely close to victory in the 200 free relay, losing by a margin of .45 seconds, and the 400 medley relay decided by .61 seconds.

With the conclusion of the Wheaton Invitational, the competition will cease until after Christmas training over winter break. The meets will resume with the Wheaton Quad Meet on Jan. 12, held here on campus at the Jonathan Lederhouse Natatorium.

Catching up with Wheaton wrestling


By Eden Schultz

Wheaton Wrestling started their new season at the beginning of November, already showing promise for the rest of the season. “All-around we’ve gotten to be a tougher team,” senior captain Max Gierke said. “Last year we had some great individual success, but this year we have more depth, and instead of last year [where] we would have three guys place at a tournament out of ten, this year we are getting five or six guys through to the championship rounds.”

The team’s most recent meet took place on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) Invitational. The Thunder finished sixth of 13 teams, with senior Carlos Fuentez, of the 125 weight class, and junior Isaac Odell, of the 154 weight class, taking home first place titles. Fuentez won by a 10-5 decision over North Central College’s Ian Mullen, while Odell won by a close 3-2 decision over North Central’s Cody Baldridge.

Wheaton Wrestling opened the season on Nov. 3 with the Messiah Invitational at Messiah College, placing third out of nine teams overall. Fuentez and Odell finished in first in the 125 and 154 weight classes respectively. On Nov. 10, Wheaton traveled to the Trine University Invitational and finished with 100 points, placing them at third out of 14 teams. Odell,s Fuentez, and freshman Ethan Harsted all placed first in the 184, 125 and 133 weight classes, respectively. Wheaton competed in a dual meet with Elmhurst College on Nov. 13, resulting in a 30-22 loss.

The Thunder have brought more than just wrestling to the mats by living out the team’s motto, “Jesus Christ is life, the rest is just wrestling.” This motto is printed on the front of the team t-shirts they wear to meets and around campus. “One thing that Coach constantly tells us is when we graduate: if he can have taught us anything, it would be that we are men who love and want to serve Jesus,” Odell explained. “He also wants us to be good and successful wrestlers, but the most important thing for him is that we are good men who love Jesus.”

Wheaton wrestling has two months of matches left before the CCIW Championships on Feb. 7. Coming up, Wheaton has two events on Saturday, Dec. 8. The North Central Invite in Naperville will start at 9 a.m., and att 12 p.m. Wheaton will compete against the University of Chicago in the only home dual of the season at King Arena. Max Gierke emphasized the importance of this meet, saying, “It would mean a lot to have a bunch of fans show up to cheer us on for the senior’s final home dual of their careers.”