The 2023 Knox-Lombard Athletic Hall of Fame Class has been announced. The Hall of Fame Committee voted in six outstanding individuals and an impactful coach in April. Ted Boecker ‘70, Leslie Combs ‘94, Charles Edemba ‘16, Jodi Marver ‘15, Kris Nelson ‘98, Drake Sykes ‘17 and women’s basketball and women’s soccer coach Jane Stangl will officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame during Homecoming weekend 2023. Individual profiles of each 2023 inductee will be released on Wednesdays over the next month.
“What a tremendous honor for these six individuals and coach to be selected for the Hall of Fame,” said Interim Director of Athletics Scott Sunderland. “They embody the athletic excellence of the Prairie Fire. Welcome to the Hall of Fame family.”
“This group is a wonderful addition to the Knox-Lombard Hall of Fame,” said Sports Information Director James Clark. “I think the committee selected a great group to add to an already extremely talented Hall of Fame. Congratulations!”
Ted Boecker ‘70
Ted Boecker was a three-time letter winner in both men’s golf and men’s swimming and diving. Freshmen were not eligible to participate in varsity athletics when he was in school. He graduated in 1970 after a fantastic career in both sports.
Ted led the 1970 men’s golf team to a Midwest Conference title, the first conference title by any Knox sport in over a decade. He was also the MWC Diving Champion in 1968 and 1970 and competed in the Small College Nationals in 1969. As a senior, Ted won the John W. Hilding Prize which is awarded to the Knox senior student-athlete participating on a men’s team with the most outstanding career in intercollegiate athletics.
His coaches and teammates note Ted as a great leader, hard worker, and a coachable student-athlete. He led by example, always had a smile on his face, and helped his teammates. After graduation, Ted had a distinguished career in the Navy and then went on to a very successful career in business.
Leslie Combs ‘94
Leslie Combs was a four-year letter winner on the women’s track and field team at Knox. She graduated in 1994 after setting several school records.
At the time of her graduation, Leslie held the Knox record in the women’s indoor 400m, outdoor 800m, and was part of the record setting outdoor 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams. All four records have since been broken. She also still appears in the Knox top-10 lists in the outdoor 1500m and indoor 800m.
According to her teammates, Leslie was a team leader and one of the premier mid-distance runners in the Midwest Conference in the early 1990’s.
Charles Edemba ‘16
Charles Edemba arrived on campus in 2012 along with 2022 Hall of Fame inductee Nathaniel Logie. The pair, along with their teammates, changed the trajectory of the men’s soccer program. The 2011 team won just one game, going 1-16 overall and 0-9 in the Midwest Conference. Edemba helped lead the 2012 team to a 6-9-2 overall record and 2-6-2 record in league play. The program was headed in the right direction, but a hot start in 2013 paved the way for the program’s first MWC Tournament Appearance since 1988.
Over his last three seasons, Edemba helped lead the men’s soccer program to a 41-13-3 overall record and 22-7-1 MWC record. The team made the MWC Tournament in each of his last three seasons and the 2013 team began a run of nine straight conference tournament appearances that is still active.
Edemba was the MWC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015 and a first team all-conference selection in 2013, 2014, and 2015 as the premier defender in the league. He was also a team captain and team MVP.
Jodi Marver ‘15
Jodi Marver was a four-year letter winner for the women’s basketball team and put her stamp on the Knox record books while helping to change the trajectory of the women’s basketball program. Marver’s senior year was the most successful women’s basketball team in over a decade and began a run of eight consecutive years with double-digit victories that is still active.
Marver scored 1,267 points over her career, the second highest mark in school history at the time of her graduation. She is now third in points all-time. She is the career leader at Knox with 473 made free throws and also set the single-season mark with 153 during her senior season.
Kris Nelson ‘98
Kris Nelson was a four-year letter winner for the football team that helped lead his team to three straight winning seasons and three straight victories over rival Monmouth. He also lettered two years in wrestling. He graduated in 1998 with a B.A. in Economics.
Nelson was a National Strength and Conditioning Association All-American, National Scholar Athlete, and first team All-Midwest Conference selection in 1997. He is one of the best offensive linemen in school history, allowing just one sack in 27 games and helping the team set several offensive records.
“Kris was blessed with good athletic ability and possessed a great work ethic,” said former head football coach Andy Gibbons. “He was a leader and one of the strongest players we have ever had at Knox. However, what made Kris special was his unbelievable desire to win and it was that desire that drove him to play as hard as anyone I have coached. In his mind, we were always in the game whether we were way up or way down.”
Drake Sykes ‘18
Drake Sykes was a three-year letter winner for the baseball team that rewrote the school record book in many categories. He also kicked for the football team for one season.
Sykes led all of NCAA Division III baseball in batting average (.487) and on base percentage (.583) in 2017 on this way to his first of three All-American teams. He also was a four-time All-Region selection and three-time All-Conference honoree. The Galesburg native ended his career as Knox’s all-time leader in hits (171), total bases (284), and stolen bases (44). He also holds the best career on base percentage (.535), the third best career batting average (.452), and sixth best career slugging percentage (.742) in the Midwest Conference.
“Drake Sykes is one of the most decorated student-athletes in Knox history,” said head baseball coach Jami Isaacson. “He is also one of the premier hitters in Midwest Conference history.”
Jane Stangl coached the women’s basketball team from 1990-1997 and the women’s soccer team from 1990-94 and 1996. She led the 1990-91 women’s basketball team to a 15-6 record and a 14-10 record, including a 10-4 record in conference play, in 1996-97 en route to a conference tournament appearance.
Stangl was involved in the change from Siwash to Prairie Fire in the early 1990’s and even used it in her PhD dissertation titled A Unique College Nickname or Another White Man’s Indian? George Helgensen Fitch and the Case of Siwash College. She also coached five future Knox-Lombard Athletic Hall of Fame inductees: Lloy (Brodnicki) Johnston, Kristin Garrison, Mary (Whiteside) Groll, Tiffany Felde, and Kathy Hansen. Johnston and Sonya Matthews were also named All-Americans in women’s soccer under Stangl’s tutelage.