Saturday, October 5, 2019

Bigger pounds 6 aces against BCC, Burnett lights up the floor with double-double

Payton Vallee goes up for a block
SJO's Payton Vallee goes up to block a kill attempt by Bloomington Central Catholic's Kate Moorman-Wolfe. Vallee had five kills against the Saints. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
A one-two combination comprised of Emily Bigger's serves and Kennedi Burnett's thunderous spikes was too much for the visiting Central Catholic (4-19 overall) volleyball team to handle. Thanks to the duo, the Spartan offense rolled to a 2-0 sweep over the Saints on Wednesday.

SJO dominated the opening set from the get-go. After dropping the first point, Bigger & Co. rattled of the nine unanswered points to take a 9-1 lead. It was a hole too deep for Central Catholic to recover from with the Spartan's hitters keeping the deficit at seven points or more the remainder of the set.

Up by 11 at 21-10, BCC would score one more point before the senior dominated squad closed out a brilliantly played set, 25-11.

The Spartans meticulously built a six-point lead after the first 14 points of the second set to go up, 10-4. The Saints, playing a much better defensive game, closed the gap to 11-8 and got within three points again at 12-9 before SJO's offense reignited.

After two unanswered points followed by a five-point run and then six unanswered points, SJO took commanding lead at 23-11. Three serves later the match was over ending the final set, 25-12.

Kennedi Burnett hits a down the line kill against BCC
Kennedi Burnett hits the ball down-the-line for one of her 10 kills. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

"I thought we played one of the best matches we've played all season," said head coach Abby McDonald, now three victories away from hitting the 300-win milestone. "They really embraced the changes we made this week and rose to the challenge."

Completely in the zone, Burnett collected a double-double with ten kills and ten digs. The senior also booked two of the team's four blocks. Classmate Katelyn Berry, hitting .467 for the evening, contributed eight kills and four digs to the cause.

Then there was Bigger. Outdoing her four-ace performance against Rantoul earlier in the week, she added another six to her career stats. The senior also had three digs and smashed a pair of kills on Saints.

Rounding out the total team effort, Payton Vallee was credited with five of the team's 31 kills in the conference win to help the Spartans pick up their 18th win of the season. Rylee Stahl, Kenly Taylor and Lacey Kaiser with three kills, each had five digs apiece.

Burnett leads St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball effort over Rantoul

Kennedi Burnett pounded a team-high 8 kills and delivered nine of St. Joseph-Ogden's 32 digs in their 25-16, 25-7 conference volleyball win over Rantoul earlier this week on Tuesday.

With the help of seniors Katelyn Berry and Payton Vallee, who contributed six kills in the match, the Spartans improve to 17-4 on the season. The victory also marks head coach Abby McDonald's 296th career coaching win.

The varsity volleyball campaign moves ahead with two road matches next week. The Spartans kickoff the week with a non-conference meeting at Tri-Valley on Monday and then travel to Tolono to face the 22-1 Unity Rockets.

Then, it is a pair of back-to-back home matches starting Thursday after Illinois High School Association reveals their postseason path to Redbird Arena. The seeding for this year's postseason play is scheduled to be announced by the IHSA at 4 pm on Thursday, October 10.

The Spartans host Pontiac on Thursday and IVC on Saturday in Illini Prairie Conference action at the end of the week.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Competitive cheerleading tryouts will be held October 28

Tryouts for the St. Joseph-Ogden competitive cheerleading team will be held on October 28 from 6 to 8pm at the high school. The Spartan cheer team is a coed team that cheers at all boys basketball games and will compete against other cheer squads from around the state hoping to win an Illinois High School Association state title.

SJO Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders help lead SJO fans in a cheer during a home game against Pleasant Plains in January. Spartan cheerleaders attended every game, home and on the road, to help keep team and fan morale high. Members selected for the competition squad also compete to qualify the state finals held in January. (Photo: PhotoNews Media Archives)

Head coach Jonathon Lackey says the he is looking for 12 to 16 students for the sideline team and seven to 12 for the competition team.

"As a coach I not only look for certain skills such as tumbling and stunting, I also look for someone who is driven," said Lackey. "I want cheerleaders who represent SJO in a positive manner, someone who will bring a great experience to games and events. Our top priority is to cheer games and support SJO athletics."

Lackey believes cheerleaders are important to the overall game experience and keep fans actively supporting players and the team throughout the season.

"It's our job to get the crowd involved to support the team. We bring a fun aspect to games," he said. "At games you need someone who is a leader to help get the crowd involved and excited, that's where we come in."

Keely McCorkle cheers during the Spartans' home game against Unity in January. Representing SJO in a positive manner is one of the roles cheerleaders have in addition to encouraging fans to show their support at games. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
The IHSA added a competitive cheerleading state series at the beginning of the 2005-06 academic year. St. Joseph-Ogden has qualified twice since then, once under the guidance of Nancy Olson in 2007 and last year under Lackey.

While training, performing and competing against elite teams from around the state, Lackey says cheerleaders serve a more significant role.

"I think it's also important to have a team that acts as ambassadors for the school in a positive manner," he explained. "That's where cheerleaders can succeed the most and become an important part of a game."

For more information contact Coach Lackey via email at Follow this year's squad on Facebook at Students interested in joining this year's squad can pick up tryout packets in the main office at the high school.

Seniors Plotner and Cain named Spartans of the Week

Week 5 Lady Spartan of the Week: Jillian Plotner

Harrier Jillian Plotner is Lady Spartan of the Week Last Saturday, Jillian Plotner ran the best race of her life. Not only did the senior lead SJO on course to third place award at their annual Spartan Classic, her time catapulted her into the St. Joseph-Ogden cross country program's all-time top ten runners in school history. Plotner finished seventh overall at 18:29 setting a new personal record and tying Sam Mabry's 2017 time also clocked at the Spartan Classic.

What is significant about her performance is the 46 seconds she shaved off her top time this season and the 40 seconds lopped off her previous PR of the nineteen minutes and nine seconds at last year's IHSA state cross country finals.

Honorable Mentions: Lindsey Aden (volleyball), Lacey Kaiser (volleyball), Ava Knap (cross country), Sophia Martlage (soccer), Hannah Rajlich (cross country), and Rylee Stahl (volleyball).

Week 5 Spartan of the Week: Payton Cain

Payton Cain earned this week's honors after fielding a punt during last Friday's homecoming game against Pontiac and running it 68 yards to give the Spartans a 13-0 lead in the first half. In the photo on the below, Cain turns on the speed on his way to his first TD of the season.

Cain has made an impact on special teams. He has accumulated 91 yards on punt return and 19 on kickoff returns so far this season.

The Sentinel caught up with him at a recent photo shoot at the high school and asked him a few questions.

Sentinel: What's you're go-to pre-game meal?
Cain: Spaghetti.

Sentinel: What is your favorite movie right now?
Cain: All The Fast & The Furious movies.

Sentinel: What's your dream job?
Cain: I don't know... Owning a business in Florida.

Sentinel: If you could have one meal with anybody, who would it be?
Cain: Michael Jordan ... scratch that. Walter Payton.

Sentinel: Who on the team makes you laugh the most?
Cain: Chance Izard!

Sentinel: What do you like about St. Joseph-Ogden High School?
Cain: The environment. The school, classrooms and sports, it's all awesome.

Honorable Mentions: Brady Buss (football), Luke Cohen (soccer), Alex Funk (football), Brayden Grimsey (soccer), Logan Ingram (soccer), Brandon Mattsey (cross country), Caleb Nemecz (football), Zac Seeley (soccer), and Brayden Weaver (football).

Previous Spartans of the Week

Week 1: Jarrett Stevenson / Katelyn Berry
Week 2: Emily Elsbernd / Jaden Weaver
Week 3: Drew Coursey / Hannah Rajlich
Week 4: Emily Bigger / Hunter Ketchum

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Attention high school coaches: Help us recognize our area prep athletes each week. Please send game scores and stats to us for freshman and junior varsity as well as varsity games. Send game, race and match results and weekly stats to

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Ingram boots winner in conference battle against Unity

Sports Book: October 1
Logan Ingram dribbles ball in Monticello game.
Logan Ingram dribbles the ball during the Spartans' home match against Monticello. The junior notched his first goal of the season in SJO's match against visiting Unity on Tuesday. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

It's birthday and he'll score if he wants to ...

Usually, the birthday boy gets a gift. On Tuesday, Logan Ingram did the reverse and celebrated his birthday on the pitch by hitting a goal with just two minutes left in an otherwise scoreless contest against the Unity Rockets. The junior's present gave the St. Joseph-Ogden (4-12-2) soccer team their first conference victory of the season.

The Spartans next match is on the road this Saturday against Warrensburg-Latham. Match time is scheduled for 2pm.

The goal was the fifth goal of his prep soccer career.

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Attention high school and junior high coaches: Please send game scores and stats to us. Send results and weekly stats to

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Bigger plays tall in SJO volleyball road win, SJO soccer takes another lump

Sports Book: September 30

Spartans hammer 18 kills on host Falcons
Emily Bigger play a sweat hand on Monday serving up four aces in St. Joseph-Ogden's 25-9, 25-10 win on the road against Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. The senior setter was credited with 20 assists and chipped in seven digs.

The Spartan used a balanced offensive assault with Katelyn Berry, Kennedi Burnett and Payton Vallee, all collecting six kills apiece. Burnett also had six digs.

Soccer team drops tough one
Hunter Ketchum had four saves in SJO's 1-0 loss to Judah Christian. The only ball that made it past him was a shot from the Tribe's Bobby Rodriquez with 16 minutes to play in the second half.

The Spartans host Unity tomorrow in an Illini Prairie Conference rivalry game at 4:30p.

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Attention high school and junior high coaches: Please send game scores and stats to us. Send results and weekly stats to

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