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In pursuit of a dream, Spartan Spotlight on SJO senior Jillian Plotner

St. Joseph-Ogden senior Jillian Plotner heads to the finish line
Clubs & Activities: Cross Country (4 years), Track and Field (4 years), Maroon Platoon

Senior Jillian Plotner started her running career long before high school. She started running competitively in the fifth grade. The choice to commit to the sport was a difficult one but one smoothed over by her dad.

"I had such a hard decision since I was choosing to either continue cheerleading or start a new sport," she explained. "With my dad's love of running, I decided to go to a few practices and that’s how I started running!"

Today, when she isn't hanging out with family or friends she is focused on training for cross country or track.

She really enjoys the close-knit feeling of the community.

"We just don’t function as a school, we function as a whole community," said Plotner, who resides in St. Joseph with her mother and father. "It's so nice to share our accomplishments as a whole community!"

Jillian Plotner runs the best time in her prep career at the Spartan Classic
Plotner runs at the 2019 Spartan Classic cross country meet. She finished the race with a carrier best time of 18:29. (Photo: PhotoNews/Clark Brooks)
"I enjoy the atmosphere of having teammates who I can proudly call my family," said Plotner, who made The News-Gazette All-Area second team this year. "They motivate me to be a better person and runner. I love them to death!"

While she enjoyed the atmosphere under the Friday night lights at St. Joseph-Ogden as spectator, her fondest memories from high school will be from one of many racing for the Spartans. At the top of the list was her role in helping her 4x800 relay squad win the state indoor title in the event in 2019.

"I helped my teammates get the lead we needed to win!" she said recounting the race her junior year. "I had a lot of spectators and teams intimidated with how I ran in that 4x800 relay! It was my peak point of showing I’m healthy again."

She added, "Another memory is just all day, everyday spending time with my teammates and coaches. It’s never dull with all of us around!"

Some of her best times include finish the 800-meter run in two minutes and 26.69 seconds and turning in a 18:29 on a three-mile course. She also ran the 1600 in five minutes and 26.33 seconds.

After graduation, in whatever form that may be due to social distancing measures in place due to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, Plotner will begin pursuing the title of Forensic Anthropologist this fall.

Forensic anthropologists analyze human remains, typically for criminal investigations, to figure out how the person died. Using various scientific testing procedures to consult forensic pathologists and coroners. Their work includes determining the age, sex, stature, ancestry and unique features of a victim as well as determining the type of trauma and how long ago it may have occurred.

"Forensic anthropology has been a dream career of mine since the 5th grade!" Plotner said. "It all started with the show 'Bones'. The show has a forensic anthropologist as the main character, Temperance, who I adored."

Plotner runs the second lap of the lead leg in 4x800 during last year's IHSA state track meet in Charleston. The junior, along with teammates Rylee Sjuts, Ashlyn Lannert and Hannah Rajlich, qualified for the finals with a time of 10:16.75. (Photo: PhotoNews/Clark Brooks)

Like the fictional character, Plotner wants to become the leading expert in the discipline.

"She was amazing at her job, and her job became a career I want to excel in!" she added.

When asked how she thought the coronavirus will change America, Plotner's message was one of hope.

"The COVID-19 will show America that many different opportunities can be taken away from someone and we just have to come back stronger than before," she replied. "Never lose hope!"

On a much more personal note, Halloween is Plotner's favorite holiday of the year.

"I LOVE HALLOWEEN! Even with being scared of scary movies, I love seeing children and even adults dress up in creepy and eerie costumes!"

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