Homecoming weekend, Sept. 29-30, brought a large crowd to watch the Wheaton Thunder athletic teams compete. The Thunder student athletes didn’t disappoint, bringing home three wins, a new school record, and several CCIW conference honors, among other accolades.
Women’s volleyball kicked the festivities off Friday night with a strong 3-0 win against Franklin College. Following an exceptional showing consisting of 36 assists and three service aces, sophomore Lacey Higgins was named the CCIW Women’s Volleyball setter of the week. Team manager and junior Keara Caragher said that Higgins not only filled the stat sheet, but also brought a consistent energy to her team,
“She’s always giving her everything on the court which is remarkable given that she plays practically every point of every set,” said Caragher.
At McCully Stadium, the highly anticipated “battle for the little brass bell” resumed the action on Saturday. The rivalry between Wheaton and North Central football teams dates back to their first matchup in 1900, and the bell wasn’t introduced until 1946 as a reward for the winning team.
Though the 13th-ranked Thunder football team fell to the No. 1 nationally ranked Cardinals 54-35, one bright spot was the new rushing record set by star running back, senior business economics major Giovanni Weeks. With 3,252 career rushing yards, Weeks broke the school record, the second record broken by Weeks this season. Weeks claimed his first record on Sept. 16 when he scored his 47th career touchdown in a win against Illinois Wesleyan.
Assistant coach Chris Hawley said Weeks is able to play the game well in multiple facets.
“Weeks is a bit of a unicorn in the sense that there aren’t a lot of kids at this level that have the size and speed that he does,” noted Hawley. “Match that with his work ethic and you get something pretty special.” Hawley also applauded Wheaton’s offensive line that continues to do the less-noticed “dirty work” to a high standard, helping to literally clear the way for Weeks’ extraordinary success.
Both women’s and men’s soccer emerged victorious in their first conference matchups against Illinois Wesleyan. Women’s soccer secured a 2-1 victory, their first win at home, giving them a 1-0 start to conference play. Though Illinois Wesleyan led 1-0 at half time, head coach Patrick Gilliam said he was encouraged that the team persevered past their slow start to the game.
“I told the team afterwards that it was a very positive step of growth for us to resiliently battle back from where things were at the break and get a much-needed result,” said Gilliam.
On the men’s side, the intensely competitive match ended in a 1-0 win for Wheaton. The impressive performance by the team gained the attention of the CCIW as this week – Pryse Anderson earned CCIW offensive student-athlete of the week, while teammate Mason Escalante was recognized as the defensive player of the week. Escalante aided his team, allowing no goals in the shut-out, while Anderson assisted on the game-deciding goal.
With plenty of play left in the season, expect to continue to see student-athletes making headlines.