Category Archives: Sports

Nothing is madder than March

By Maggie Franke


Anyone who is semi-interested in basketball knows that March has been “mad” since the mid-1900s. While many people watch March Madness to cheer on their alma mater or the college they currently attend, many others un-connected to a specific school still tune in because, in all honesty, it’s just entertaining.

During this year’s tournament, I heard many people complain about the fact that big name teams like Duke and UNC were not in the the Final Four. However, I would argue that this situation is what makes March Madness so unique.

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Athlete Spotlight: Favor Ezewuzie

By Maggie Franke

Junior sprinter Favor Ezewuzie is a standout at Wheaton College for many different reasons, but her athletic success as a member of Wheaton’s Women’s Track and Field team has brought her into the limelight. But track was not the sport that brought Ezewuzie to Wheaton in the first place.

I had originally come to Wheaton wanting to play basketball,”Ezewuzie said. I mainly played basketball from the time I was ten until the time that I was about 18.”

Ezewuzie attended high school at Covenant Christian Academy in Peabody, Mass. The school highlighted her basketball performance at the 2019 NCAA DIII Women’s Indoor Track and Field national meet on their Facebook page. But the Ezewuzie’s have not always called Massachusetts home. Like Favor, her family was brought to a different place due to an exciting educational opportunity.

“Both of my parents were born and raised in Nigeria,” Ezewuzie said. “They came to the U.S. in the 1990s and then they had me and my brothers. My dad is visually impaired, so he can’t see. There are not a lot of opportunities for someone who is blind to move up in the scale of education in Nigeria. He got [a] scholarship to come to the U.S. and study law at Boston University.”

Ezewuzie said her parents encouraged her to understand that sports are a way to glorify and worship God, whether she won or lost. Her two older brothers were role models to her as basketball players themselves.

Looking at schools, Ezewuzie was originally interested in attending Gordon College in Massachusetts, but she heard about an interesting Christian college in Illinois that caught her attention. However, Wheaton was not a definite option for Ezewuzie to play basketball right away.

“I had gotten into Wheaton, but I couldn’t afford it,” Ezewuzie said. “May [2016] came around, and I found out that I got a scholarship to come to Wheaton. At that point, I hadn’t made a decision.”

Ezewuzie accepted the Don and Ann Church scholarship awarded to students of multicultural backgrounds or of racial minority who have exceptional academic standing and leadership qualities. She emailed Coach Madsen and asked to visit Wheaton and try out for the team. Upon her arrival for the 2016-17 academic year, Madsen told her that they were not taking tryouts that season.

“I decided to be the manager,” Ezewuzie said. She videotaped all of their home games that season. “The scholarship brought me to Wheaton, but I really wanted to play basketball,” she said. “I was determined that even if I couldn’t try out my freshman year that I would try out the next year, my sophomore year.”

But then plans changed. “So then when I joined the track team I thought, ‘Oh yeah I can run track, I mean I guess it’s kind of cool.’ I always thought that I was kind of fast,” Ezewuzie said.

Ezewuzie developed a love for running during the 2017 outdoor track season. Basketball was still in the back of her mind until she started running the 4×100-meter relay and learning how to run hurdles. That season, Ezewuzie ran as a part of Wheaton’s All-American and CCIW-champion 4×100 meter relay and was All-CCIW in the 100-meter hurdles, the long jump.

Though recognized as an individual standout runner, Ezewuzie remarked on how the culture of Wheaton’s track team revealed that track is, in fact, a team-driven sport. “It is a sport where you are constantly aware of other people and encouraging them through it,” Ezewuzie said. “I have found that sometimes I have to train on my own, and it is not the same. There’s something about being able to train with your teammates that is so needed and important because they push you, lead you and affirm you.”

According to Ezewuzie, four to five Wheaton athletes run in the same race together, but before they run, they pray that they will glorify God during their race and find the joy of the Lord’s pleasure.

One race in particular is significant to Ezewuzie: the 4×400-meter relay at Swarthmore College. “Getting on that bus, spending so many hours with them, going out there and running the 4×4 was, for me, something that was so incredible because I learned what it means to do something, not because you love it, but because you’re a part of something bigger than yourself,” Ezewuzie said. “If you ask anyone, I do not love the 400. But each time I get up there to get the baton, it’s for this team, for this school, for the people I represent. Finishing at the end with four people, there’s something about that … I’ve never experienced that before. Running something that is so difficult, but knowing that you are part of something bigger.”

At the “Last Chance Meet” in 2018 at Swarthmore College, Ezewuzie, Natasha Brown, Marissa Heath and Erika Johnson finished in first place in 3:48.12. At the time, that was the third fastest run in DIII.

Wheaton’s track team has only encouraged the mentality that Ezewuzie was raised with, in terms of what sports really mean. My parents have always been people that have allowed us to see the bigger picture behind sports,” Ezewuzie said. “You’re running to glorify the Lord. I am a part of a community of people that relies on me and relies on my commitment and my drive to be a part of it, but I also see being a part of a team as a way to glorify and worship the Lord.”

Ezewuzie said that competing as a part of the Thunder has allowed her to grow as an athlete but truly grow in her faith as well. “For me, it even applies to running hurdles,” Ezewuzie said. “There are days that you’re running and you hit a hurdle bad. After that, are you going to continue to run after the next hurdle? Or is that going to mentally get at you? Oh, I hit this hurdle, so my next race I’m going to hit all of them. It’s this mindset that I have seen with the Lord. God, no matter what challenges come my way, you are faithful to bring me through each obstacle.”

Thunder baseball begins season with winning streak

By Abram Erickson

Thanks to a commanding opening stretch, the Wheaton Thunder Men’s Baseball team is off to a strong start this season, and they’re cruising into conference play.

Currently sitting at a 13-6 record, the team started off the year on fire in the non-conference schedule, racking up seven straight wins.

Their winning streak began at Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where the Thunder opened the season with a pair of wins against Covenant College. Then they went to Fort Pierce, Florida for the team’s annual spring break trip, where the Thunder won all of their first five games in the Florida Coast Spring Training Tournament. Wheaton gained two victories against Norwich University, then took a game apiece from Geneva College, Western Connecticut State and Cairn University.

Two losses in a doubleheader against Washington College stopped the streak at seven wins, but the Thunder stormed back with a commanding 11-1 win over the College of Mount Saint Vincent to finish off the tournament.

The Thunder returned home to Lee Pfund Stadium in Carol Stream for the first time on Friday, March 22, when they opened up the Wheaton Invitational against Concordia College (Minn.). Wheaton prevailed over Concordia 8-2 in the opener, and then tallied another victory against Saint Mary’s University (Minn.) on Saturday. The invitational finished with the Thunder falling, 5-10, to Concordia University Chicago in Saturday’s nightcap.

The Thunder were 10-3 heading into conference play and moved seamlessly into their CCIW regular-season schedule with a win against Illinois Wesleyan University, 8-5.

Wheaton’s first conference series of the year was a face-off against the Big Blue of Millikin University on March 30 and April 1. The Thunder took the opener on Saturday, 9-3, but fell 4-0 in game two. Millikin won the rubber match on Monday, 3-0, to drop Wheaton’s conference record to 2-2.

Immediately following the Millikin series, Wheaton went back to work in a CCIW doubleheader against Carthage College on Tuesday. The Thunder won game one in dramatic fashion, thanks to a walk-off double by freshman infielder Matthias Haggerty in the bottom of the 10th inning, which led Wheaton to the 9-8 victory. Game two saw Carthage earn a 10-7 win, and Wheaton’s conference record remain even at 3-3.

The Thunder will look to carry momentum from their strong opening throughout the CCIW season. They aim to continue performing the way they did their dominant non-conference stretch, according to senior infielder and team captain Ben Brittain.

“We’ve had a strong start to the season so far, and the most encouraging part about it is the amount of contributors,” Brittain said. “Heading into conference, our entire starting lineup was batting over .300, which is something that we have never had the luxury of in my four years on the team. Likewise, our pitching staff consistently gives us opportunities to win games.”

Brittain himself is among those setting the tone for the Thunder batters, as he leads the team with a .387 average and 29 hits. Sophomore infield/outfield player Joel Pierce has been another bright spot for the Thunder offense thus far, leading the team in doubles, total bases and home runs with eight, 45 and three, respectively.

“When the pressure of performing is spread throughout the lineup, hitters are more relaxed at the plate which builds confidence,” added Brittain.

Wheaton has strength on the mound thanks to leadership from senior starting pitcher Michael McCraith, who is the top performer among the hurlers with 32.1 innings pitched, a 3-1 overall record and a 1.95 ERA. Junior pitcher Christian Bolhuis has also added three wins on his way to a 3-2 record.

“Overall, both our confidence between individuals and teammates is at an all-time high and we are hoping to continue the trend as we begin conference,” Brittain said.

Fellow team captain Nick Mailman, a senior outfielder, echoed Brittain’s comments. “It’s been a great start to the year. We’re getting significant contributions from all spots in the lineup,” Mailman said. “We’re lucky to have so many key contributors returning, and that should bode well for us in conference.”

With a 13-6 record overall and a 3-3 record in conference, the Thunder are poised to enter the bulk of their CCIW schedule.

Up next is a three-game series against Elmhurst College on April 5 and 6, with game one on Friday in Elmhurst, and games two and three in Carol Stream on Saturday.

The conclusion of winter sports

By Maggie Franke

In the past few weeks, Wheaton athletes have finished their winter seasons with stellar performances at nationals and other competitions on and off campus. Here is a brief summary of what you missed:

  1. For the first time since 1960, the Wheaton Men’s Basketball team made it to the Final Four of the NCAA DIII Men’s Basketball National Championship Tournament. This historic victory added onto an incredible year for the Thunder men’s basketball team even though they ended up losing in the semi-final to UW-Oshkosh 104-85.
  2. Senior Aston Francis was named the DIII Men’s Basketball player of the year by D3News and Francis also won the Jostens trophy, an award that’s been honoring DIII athletes since 1998. Francis is the first Wheaton athlete to win the award. Francis scored a DIII-record of 1,096 points this season and a school-record of 388 career three-pointers during his career.
  3. Junior Hannah Frazier was named first-team All-American by and the WCBA, and second-team All-American by D3news. Frazier scored 559 points, breaking the Wheaton record she set last year.
  4. Favor Ezewuzie earned All-American honors at the NCAA DIII Women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships. Ezewuzie finished second in the 60-meter hurdles after running a time of 8.69 seconds and seventh in the 60-meter dash after running a time of 7.77 seconds.
  5. Sophomore Hannah Roeske earned All-American honors at the championships. Roeske finished sixth place overall in the one-mile run with a time of 4:54.78.
  6. Leif van Grinsven finished third overall, earning All-American honors, in the heptathlon at the championships. Van Grinsven, who was also named an All- American, finished with 843 total points at the end of the multi-event scoring.
  7. Natasha Brown competed in the championships as well, but ran to an 11th place finish in the 200-meter dash, one place out of the final, with a time of 25.37 seconds.
  8. Junior Grant Miller competed in the 2019 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships in the 285-pound weight class on March 8. Miller lost his first round match and completed his competition in the tournament after another loss in the consolation bracket. This was Miller’s first time qualifying for the national championships.
  9. Senior Brooke Barnes won an All-American title for the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events at the DIII Women’s Swimming and Diving National Championships in Greensboro, N.C. Barnes finished sixth overall in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 23.20 and fifth overall in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 50.54, both the second fastest times in each respective event in Wheaton Women’s Swimming history.
  10. Senior Chris Szymczak also wrapped up his historic four-year swimming career at the DIII Men’s Swimming and Diving National Championships. after qualifying for the meet in February. Szymczak swam the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke. His highest place finish was his 200-yard freestyle swim of 1:49.02, which put him at 20th place overall in the event.
  11. Sophomore Will Rinne swam the 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley (IM) and the 100-yard freestyle at the DIII Men’s Swimming and Diving National Championships in Greensboro N.C. While Rinne did not repeat his All-American honors from his freshman year, he finished 18th overall in the 200-yard IM.

Which sports are really spring sports?

By Maggie Franke

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of sports action for the Wheaton Thunder. Many athletes are just starting their competition season, but it can be confusing as to which sports seasons began and ended in the spring.

According to the NCAA, the sports that have championships in the fall season are cross country, field hockey, football, soccer and women’s volleyball. The winter sports are basketball, wrestling, ice hockey, swimming and diving, and indoor track and field. That means that baseball, golf, lacrosse, rowing, softball, outdoor track and field, tennis and men’s volleyball are spring sports.

Wheaton College does not have varsity men’s volleyball, rowing, field hockey, ice hockey or lacrosse teams. Wheaton does offer rowing, ice hockey, lacrosse and men’s soccer as club sports.

According to the CCIW, the fall sports that have championships in the fall season are cross country, soccer, women’s golf, women’s tennis and women’s volleyball. The winter championships are swimming and diving, basketball, indoor track and field and wrestling. The spring championships in the conference are for men’s golf, outdoor track and field, men’s tennis, softball, lacrosse and baseball.

That means that Wheaton College’s varsity baseball, softball, outdoor track and field and men’s golf teams all compete in the spring season. Spring sports can be hard to follow to completion because many of their seasons extend beyond the end of the school year.

However, there is plenty of action to be seen in each of these sports, all of which have already started competition.

The Wheaton Women’s Softball team split a doubleheader against Hope College Tuesday afternoon; they lost the first game 7-2 and won the second game 14-8. Their next game is this Saturday at Ruth Leedy Field at 1 p.m. against Millikin University. At the end of the 2018 spring season, Wheaton was 7-31 overall, but so far this season, the Thunder Softball team has lost 10 games and won six games already.

The Wheaton Men’s Baseball team hosted Illinois Wesleyan University Wednesday afternoon and won the game 8-5. Their next home game is a double-header on Tuesday, April 2 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. The men’s baseball team was 15-24 on the season last year. They are 11-3 on the season this year so far. Senior Evan Ogden was named CCIW Hitter of the Week on Tuesday.

The track and field teams wrapped up their indoor season, and now the outdoor season is underway. The Thunder competed in the WashU Mini Meet last weekend. The women’s team placed third overall, while the men’s team placed sixth. On March 30, the track and field teams will be competing in the Augustana College Viking Olympics, which will provide a preview of how the outdoor season will pan out for teams in the CCIW.

The Wheaton Men’s Golf team will be hosting the Wheaton Invitational at Cantigny Golf Course this weekend. It might be Wheaton golf fans’ only opportunity to attend a golf tournament so close to campus.

The Wheaton Men’s Tennis team has already competed in 11 matches this season of which they have won three. Their first match was on Feb. 8, and their next match will be in Wheaton against Illinois Wesleyan University on April 9 at a to-be-announced time.

The NCAA championships for women’s tennis and women’s golf are both in the spring, but their CCIW championship season is in the fall. Both of these teams have spring seasons which give them the opportunity to qualify for the national competition.

Thunder excels in CCIW indoor track and field championships

Women take second and men take fourth


By Rebekah McGee

Last week was the Thunder’s Women’s and Men’s Track and Field teams succeeded in the CCIW Indoor Championships. The Wheaton women took second, acquiring 112 points while the men took fourth with 70. Both teams were beat out by host and tournament champion North Central College.

Wheaton athletes were competitive in events of all distances. Junior Favor Ezewuzie led the way in the sprinting category by finishing first in both the 60-meter dash, with a time of 7.63 seconds, and the 60-meter hurdles, with a time of 8.72 seconds. Her dominant hurdle performance set a new school and NCAA Division III record. Furthermore, in the field, Ezewuzie won the long jump with a leap of 5.74 meters. Collectively, these athletic successes earned Ezewuzie Track Athlete of the Meet.

Senior Natasha Brown took first place in the 200-meter dash, winning by less than one one-hundredth of a second. Ezewuzie placed third closely behind her with a time of 25.36. Brown placed fifth in the 60-meter dash, crossing the finish line with a time of 7.89. In the 60-meter hurdles, senior Abby Grace McGee and freshman Sydney Jones finished in fourth and fifth place respectively with times of 9.26 and 9.46. Senior Rose Favino took sixth in the 400-meter run, finishing in 1:00.56.

The Wheaton men closed impressive times in sprinting. Senior Leif Van Grinsven earned the CCIW champion title in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.38. Junior Andy Margason followed close behind, finishing eighth in 8.84 seconds. In the 400-meter, freshman Andrew Lauber earned fourth place by finishing in 49.85. Bradley Dowell also placed in the 400-meter, finishing in 51.21.

In the distance races, junior Aryn Embretson won first place in both the 5000-meter and 3000-meter run. In the one-mile run, junior Erika Johnson placed fifth in 5:17.59. In the one-mile run, freshman Jonah Jones finished in 4:23.20 to take fourth and Riley placed seventh in 4:25.92. Freshman Kevin Riley placed eighth in the 3000-meter in 8:53.18 and sophomore Seth Massot placed eighth in the 5000-meter in 15:14.84.

The Wheaton women’s 4×400 relay squad of Favino, McGee, senior Charlotte Matzal and Brown finished third with a time of 4:00.64. Wheaton’s men’s 4×400 relay team of junior Paul Amstutz, Lauber, freshman Max Veth and sophomore Logan Pinkerton won fifth at the meet, finishing with a time of 3:27.51.

The men’s heptathlon competition saw junior Robert Smith place second overall with 4,369 points, while freshman Chris Albert finished in seventh with 3,634. On the jumping front, senior Katie Lindquist placed fifth in the high jump due to a leap of 1.58 meters and sophomore Stephen Matthew hit the 1.95 meter mark, earning sixth in the same event.

Reflecting on this past weekend, Albert said, “Even though track is typically an individual sport, the conference meet really brought us together as a team. Our community feels unified and supportive and I’m excited to see where this momentum will bring us as we move into the outdoor season.”

Both teams have two weeks before jumping back into competition with the Division III Indoor National Championships Boston, Mass. Afterward, both teams will compete in the spring outdoor track and field season.

Both men and women’s basketball to play in national tournament


By Maggie Franke

For the first time in five years, both of Wheaton’s varsity basketball programs qualified for the national tournament.

After two disappointing losses for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, Wheaton’s chances of qualifying for nationals did not look bright. However, several things happened that allowed both of the Thunder Basketball teams to qualify for the national tournament.

Last Friday, the Wheaton Men’s Basketball team suffered a tough 94-87 loss to North Central College in the CCIW Championship Tournament semifinal game. When asked about the team’s thoughts on national tournament hopes, senior Astin Francis said, “Friday night it really didn’t look too great for us, but after North Central won on Saturday we felt much better about our chances to get in.” Any hope of entering into the tournament rested on calculated wins and losses of other teams in the conference.

Wheaton was selected to the NCAA DIII Men’s Basketball National Tournament on Monday. “We feel like we have been given a second chance and want to make the most of it,” Francis said. “We are really excited to keep playing.”

The Thunder will face Hanover College at 4:30 p.m. (CST) on Friday, March 1. Hanover is 21-6 on the season, but both teams are currently unranked in the most recent poll of the top 25 DIII teams by

Wheaton is anticipating a fresh wave of energy to carry them into the game “We feel confident that if we play well, we can beat anybody,” Francis said. “Hanover is a good team, but we will be ready for the challenge.”

The Wheaton Women’s Basketball team was more successful in the CCIW Women’s Championship Tournament by winning their semifinal game against Elmhurst College. However, in a neck-and-neck matchup against Illinois Wesleyan University last Saturday night, the Titans came out on top with a final score of 69-68.

An 18-point, fourth-period drive by IWU allowed them to pull ahead of the Thunder who led the majority of the game. Even after the loss, Wheaton’s national tournament goals remained alive Still the 21st ranked team in the nation after Saturday’s loss, the Thunder proved themselves to be a strong tournament selection.

“Our team couldn’t be more excited to get an at—large bid to the tournament,” junior forward Hannah Frazier said. “It’s such an exciting atmosphere, and we’re going against the best competition in the country so we know we have to be ready and play at our best.”

The Thunder women will be traveling to Iowa to face Hope College this Friday. Hope is currently ranked number 10 in’s most recent poll. They have an overall record of 23-4. “Hope is a really good team with a historically successful program,” Frazier said, “but that’s gonna be the case with most teams we see in the national tournament.”

Both of Wheaton’s basketball teams will have live streams of their games available on the Wheaton athletics website.

Swimming conference championship wrap-up


By Maggie Franke

Over the weekend, the Wheaton Men’s and Women’s Swim and Dive teams competed in the CCIW Conference Championship Swimming Meet. The men’s team finished in second place and, the women finished in third place.

On the first day of the meet, both of the two relay events, the 200-yard freestyle and 400-medley, resulted in second place finishes for the Thunder. Sophomore Will Rinne won the 200-yard individual medley (IM) with an NCAA selectable time and meet record of 1:50.23, currently the 11th fastest time in Division III this year.

Wheaton had six other athletes finish in the top eight in their respective events: a third place tie for freshman Ethan Kile in the 200 IM, eighth place finish for freshman Ben Griffith in the 200 IM, a third place finish for freshman Jonathan Schofield in the 500-yard freestyle, sixth place in the 500-yard freestyle for senior Connor Perry, fourth place in the 50-yard freestyle for Christian Cameron and a seventh place finish in the 50-yard freestyle for Daniel Deysher.

The women also had some strong swims on the first day of competition. Wheaton finished second in the 400-yard medley relay and third in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Senior Brooke Barnes started off her final CCIW Championship meet with an individual title and NCAA selectable time of 23.32 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle, the ninth fastest time in Division III this year. Junior Ashley Bowen also finished in the top eight on Thursday in the 500-yard freestyle with a third place finish and lifetime best in the event.

On the second day of competition, Wheaton showed vast improvement from their first day. Rinne continued to stand out as one of the conference’s top all-time talents as he broke the 1:40-barrier in the 200-yard freestyle for the first time in CCIW history. His 1:39.18 gave him an individual conference title and the 13th fastest time in DIII this year. Szymczak finished second in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 49.67, an NCAA B-cut. Griffith was the runner-up in the 400-yard individual medley, finishing with a time of 4:09.24. Cameron finished second in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 50.52 seconds.

Wheaton had nine other individual top-eight finishes on the second day: fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle for junior Micah Kimel, seventh overall in the same event for Deysher, eighth in the 200-yard freestyle for senior Stephen Larson, seventh in the 100-yard back for Schofield, third in the 400-yard IM for junior Logan McDaniel, fourth in the 400-yard IM for Perry, fourth in the 100-yard butterfly for Szymczak, sixth in the 100-yard butterfly for senior Matthew Rueger and third in the 100-yard breaststroke for Ethan Kile.

In the relay events, Wheaton finished second in the 200-yard medley relay just shy of an NCAA B-cut, but the highlight of that relay was Rinne’s sub-twenty split of 19.76. The Thunder’s 800-yard freestyle wrapped-up a strong night, giving them a second place finish.

The Wheaton Women’s Swim team moved up in the team scoring event on Friday propelled by strong performances by Barnes and junior Michaela Sandeno. Barnes competed in the 200-yard freestyle, the event in which she qualified for the national meet last year, and won with an NCAA selectable time of 1:51.31. With a slightly faster time from her Wheaton Invitational performance, Barnes is currently ranked 19th in DIII.

Sandeno swam one of the most thrilling races of the weekend with her 100-yard breaststroke swim when she touched out the Carroll swimmer in the lane next to her by one one-hundredth of a second to win the event. Wheaton had six other individual finishes in the top eight on Friday night, including Bowen’s eighth place finish in the 200-yard event, freshman Priscilla Min’s fifth place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke, sophomore Kiki Rogers’ seventh place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke, freshman Abby Rutledge’s runner-up finish in the 100-yard butterfly and junior Aleah Perkins’ eighth place finish in the 100-yard backstroke.

Wheaton also had two relays on Friday night. The Thunder finished fourth in a close race during the 200-yard medley relay when they finished just 0.21 seconds out of second place. In the 800-yard freestyle relay, Wheaton finished second to Illinois Wesleyan University.

Saturday was the strongest day for both teams.Rinne won his third event of the meet with a 100-yard freestyle time of 45.76 seconds, and Szymczak completed a four-year sweep of the 200-yard backstroke event with an NCAA selectable time and meet record of 1:47.98. Szymczak is the fourth person since 1990 to win the event four years in a row.

Wheaton finished second in the 400-yard freestyle relay in a close race that came down to the finish. Carthage edged out Wheaton’s Rinne, but the Thunder’s Szymczak, Cameron, Deysher and Rinne swam an NCAA selectable time of 3:03.00. Wheaton had nine other swimmers place in the top eight individually on the final night of the meet as well. In the 200-yard butterfly, freshman Gavin Patton, sophomore Joe Kim, senior Matthew Rueger and senior Ben Mendez finished fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth respectively. In the 1650-yard freestyle Wheaton also had four finishers in the top eight: McDaniel (third), Patton (fourth), Schofield (fifth) and Perry (seventh).

The Wheaton Women’s team finished their conference meet with excitement. Sandeno swept the two breaststroke events with a 2:24.67 in the 200-yard breaststroke which earned her another individual title. Barnes swept the final event of the sprint freestyle trio with a victory in the 100-yard freestyle in a time of 51.14, currently the 17th fastest time of the year. Rutledge was the runner-up in the 200-yard butterfly and fourth in the 200-yard backstroke while Bowen finished third in the 1650-yard freestyle.

Min and Rogers finished fifth and eighth in the 200-yard breaststroke.

To conclude their competition, Wheaton’s 400-yard freestyle relay raced IWU’s relay neck-and-neck, down to the wire. IWU touched out the Wheaton relay by one-hundredth of a second, but both teams went NCAA selectable times.

Barnes and Rinne were both awarded the honors of Most Valuable Swimmer in the meet, and Wheaton had eleven swimmers receive All-Conference honors: Barnes, Sandeno, Bowen, Rutledge, Rinne, Schofield, McDaniel, Szymczak, Kile, Cameron and Griffith.

All athletes and relays with NCAA selectable times will find out whether or not they will attend the NCAA Division III Swimming Championship Meet in Greensboro, N.C. by the end of the week.

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.