Top 10 Sentinel stories from 2019

With 2019 coming to a close in just a few hours, our first calendar year of operation in nearly complete. In the past 364 days and 20 hours - give or take a few minutes - The Sentinel published, including this one, 217 stories.

From the Spartan volleyball team's trip to this year's IHSA state finals to the academic achievements of students and graduates from St. Joseph-Ogden High School, one thing stands out: The people of Royal, St. Joseph and Ogden care just as much about academics as they do about the success of the high school sports teams.

A special thanks to everyone who shared the stories you've read on The Sentinel with family and friends via email or social media. Indeed, thank you for helping The Sentinel grow this year and we look forward to serving you in the years to come.

So without any further adieu, here is a look back at The Sentinel's most-read stories in 2019.


Sixteen area St. Joseph-Ogden graduates now attending the University of Illinois earned recognition for their outstanding academic performance during the spring 2019 semester. Three of the academic achievers hail from Ogden and the remaining 13 listed are from St. Joseph.


The senior class led in number of honors with 73 students achieving a 3.75 or higher average grade during the period. The sophomore and junior classes boast 42 high honor receipients, followed by the senior class with 41 honor roll students and the class of 2024 with 39.


"That St. Joseph-Ogden team was legit," he said in the post-match presser. "They are a real deal defending team.

The Spartans defensive effort yielded 55 digs during the marathon match. Rylee Stahl led the Spartans with 17 of those digs. Emily Bigger, with seven digs, distributed 32 assists.

"They were a force to be reckoned with," he said. "They made us fight for every point."

Ten high school coaches and their athletic programs will offer sports summer camps for area kids this summer. The camps are designed ...


Fourteen athletes from the St. Joseph-Ogden girls track team advanced to this weekend's Illinois High School Association state track and field finals in Charleston.


"It's so weird, so sad honestly," said Berry, who was multitasking between processing the first of many milestones of her senior year and celebrating her team's victory. "It felt good to get the win."

University of Illinois freshmen Abigail Schlueter and Rylee Sjuts were one of 159 underclassmen designated Chancellor’s Scholars in the Campus Honors Program this fall. Selected on the basis of their academic excellence and leadership potential, the newly minted ...

Members of the St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team happily celebrate with their third-place trophy at Redbird arena during the awards ceremony for the Class 2A at the IHSA Girls Volleyball State . . .


Twelve St. Joseph-Ogden High School students were name among 6,394 Illinois residents who earned degrees from the University of Illinois this past spring. Three of the 12 former Spartans who received bachelor degrees obtained their diplomas with exceptional academic laurels.

Our top story ...

Seventeen St. Joseph-Ogden seniors were named to this year's State Scholar Program by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC). Illinois students attain state scholar recognition by maintaining an outstanding ...

Seven Spartans make all-conference football list

Seven St. Joseph-Ogden football players garnered special recognition from the Illini Prairie conference football coaches this fall. The group, five Spartan seniors and two juniors, received well-deserved all-conference notoriety for their performance during the 2019 season.

 SJO senior lineman Blake Dable
Blake Dable (right) blocks a Williamsville lineman during SJO's first-round Class 3A playoff game back on November 2. Dable, a senior, was named all-Illini Prairie offensive lineman for his efforts this fall. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
    .:: Buy this photo ::.

Seniors Brayden Weaver (Linebacker), Payton Cain (Defensive Back) and Blake Dable (Offensive Line) each received first-team accolades.

Attempting to become a three-sport athlete in his final year as a Spartan, Drew Coursey, who never played a down of varsity football until last August, received second-team recognition at the linebacker position.

Three players received Honorable Mentions. Crayton Burnett, who also started at quarterback, received noticed for his kick ability at punter with an HM. Senior Jaden Miller was given a nod as a defensive lineman while Brady Buss, who will be back next fall, earned a salute at the wide receiver position.

The Spartans finished the 2019 season with a record of five wins and five loses. Earning a second consecutive Class 3A playoff bid, SJO dropped their first-round postseason game to the Williamsville Bullets, who rolled through the bracket to take home this year's championship trophy.

SJO knocks down Annawan for first win at State Farm Classic

Payton Cain stepped up with a team-high 10 points in the St. Joseph-Ogden boys' basketball team's first game at this year's State Farm Holiday Classic basketball tournament.

The Spartans defeated Annawan 47-42 after a strong second half on Thursday, the first day after Christmas.

Five other SJO players contributed offensively to the victory. Ty Pence finished with nine points while seniors Chance Izard and Conner Hodge collected eight points a piece to round out the top four scorers.

Braves' Ryan Goodman led all scorers with 16 points. Julian Samuels kicked in another 15 in the loss.

The Spartans advanced to face Rockford Lutheran in the championship half of the bracket with the hopes of advancing to the championship game on Monday for the first time since 2016.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 12 12 7 16 - 47
Annawan 11 14 6 11 - 42

St. Joseph-Ogden: Conner Hodge 8, Payton Cain 10, Jordan Kelly 7, Payton Grimsley 5, Chance Izard 8 and Ty Pence 9.

Annawan: Ryan Goodman 16, Austin Earley 6, Mason Matney 2, Josh Sims 3 and Julian Samuels 15.

Ladies post win in State Farm Classic opener

The St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team picked up another overtime win this season after a 46-42 decision over Bishop McNamara in their State Farm Holiday Classic opening game on Thursday.

Ashlyn Lannert dropped a season-high 16 points to lead the SJO to their 11th win of the season. Senior Taylor Barnes added another 10 in the team's 14th game this season.

During the extra session, Abby Behrens, who came off the bench to finish with five points, hit three of four free throws the help the Spartans advance in the tournament's championship bracket.

The Fightin' Irish were paced by Caris White with 16 points.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 5 16 9 12 4 - 46
Bishop McNamara 6 10 15 11 0 - 42

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 16, Payton Jacob 7, Atleigh Hamilton 2, Abby Behrens 5, Taylor Barnes 10, Alyssa Hamilton 4 and Ella Armstrong 2.

Bishop McNamara: Ty Hill 1, Amari Stevenson 11, Caris White 16, Olivia Lorence 5 and Claudia Dolliger 9.

Spartans played their tails off, fall to Maroons after solid first half

For two quarters St. Joseph-Ogden dominated the floor in their road game against Champaign Central.

After holding the host Maroons (5-6) scoreless in the first quarter and forging a 24-18 halftime lead, the Spartans (6-2) fell 43-39 picking up their second consecutive loss in early season play.

Payton Cain gets a high-five from teammate Chance Izard in the first half. (Photo: PhotoNews Medial/Clark Brooks)
"When we got tired we made some mental mistakes," said head coach Kiel Duval in his first comments about the game. "We played our tails off on the defensive end."

SJO led by as many as ten until late in the third period when 6-4 guard Khailieo Terry buried six points and Diego Sanchez drilled a pair of threes to nudge Central past the Spartans by two, 33-31.

"He's a really good player," Duval said the Maroon's marquee player. "Terry takes all you attention every single possession."

After the lousy first quarter Terry said he had to adjust the way he attacked the rim.

"Every time I drove they were looking to take a charge. I just had work around the perimeter a little more," he said. (I had to) get my buckets in transition. (I had to) push them. Make them hurt."

Despite the hurt, playing on fumes, the SJO contingent gave their all. Despite the majority of their shots falling short of the hole in the final quarter, they didn't let up on relentless attacks and slashes into the paint.

Payton Cain and Chance Izard could get in and penetration for otherwise easy shots while Ty Pence had nice open looks from the outside. Unfortunately, whenever the trio put the orange rock up, it missed.

"It seemed like we were short on every single shot," Duval said, sharing his fourth quarter observation.

Short on endurance for games like SJO's non-league game against the Maroons, he was adamant that his team needs to practice a little harder so they can go the distance in four-quarter sprint fests like Tuesday night's contest. "If you practice hard like that all the time, those shots start falling in the fourth quarter."

Conner Hodge nibbled at Central's five-point lead late in the last quarter of the game, narrowing it with a bucket from the paint. Later, Jordan Kelly delivered the team's last field of the game to make the score, 38-37.

With 9.3 left on the game clock, SJO still had an outside chance to at least tie up the game. Unfortunately, a clutch free throw from Reece Jacobson sealed the Maroons program's 1,736th win.

Izard emerged as the team's leading scorer with 15 points for SJO. Pence, who led his team in rebounding with five boards, finished with eight points. Cain also contributed eight points and was perfect from the free throw line make all four of his attempts.

Held scoreless in the first quarter, Central's Terry scored 15 of his 17 total points in the second and third quarters. The junior was credited with nine rebounds in first game back for the Maroons this season after a seven game hiatus.

Sanchez, who had four rebounds for the Maroons, finished with eight second half points, thanks in part to a pair of treys in the third quarter.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 8 16 7 8 - 39
Champaign Central 0 18 15 10 - 43

St. Joseph-Ogden: Conner Hodge 2, Payton Cain 8, Jordan Kelly 4, Payton Grimsley 2, Chance Izard 15 and Ty Pence 8.

Champaign Central: Terry 17, Jacobson 4, Wagner 6, Marshall 3, Allen 2, Roosevelt 3 and Sanchez 8.

Christmas tree pick-up schedule for St. Joseph set

The Village of St. Joseph offer a community-wide Christmas tree pick-up during a special collection dates starting on January 13 through January 17, 2020.

Village officials ask that all decorations be removed and that trees be protected from the elements until the pick up. Residents must place unwanted trees on the curb and any plastic slip cover used to protect the tree prior to pick up be removed.

SJO girls start State Farm Classic run with 10-3 record

Alyssa Hamilton keeps the ball away from Morton's Olivia Remmert
(PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Alyssa Hamilton keeps the ball away from Morton's Olivia Remmert while looking for an open teammate to pass the ball. Hamilton and the Spartans, who lost to visiting the Potters, 62-27, head back to the hardwood the day after Christmas to square off against Bishop McNamara in their opening game this year's State Farm Holiday Classic in Bloomington-Normal. Game time is slated for 8pm at Normal Community High School.

Should SJO prevail, the ladies will play less than 24 hours later at 5:30pm at Bloomington High School. A loss will move them into consolation bracket to face the loser of the contest between Normal U-High and Rockford Lutheran.

St. Joseph-Ogden heads into the annual holiday tournament with a record of 10-3 after picking up a pair of home court wins after the loss to last year's Class 3A state champions. The Spartans slipped by Paxton-Buckley-Loda 58-47, and then pounded the Urbana Tigers, 58-40.

See more photos from St. Joseph-Ogden's home game against Morton here: SJO vs Morton photo gallery.

"You just have to have fun with it", SJO basketball fall at home

The undefeated Morton girls basketball team had plenty of hype preceding their visit to St. Joseph-Ogden back on December 14.

The Potters, starting four juniors and a sophomore from last season's state title team, entered the game with an impressive 8-0 record and it was clear after the first four and half minutes of their game against the Spartans why.

Ella Armstrong looks for a step toward the paint in SJO's home game against Morton.
Ella Armstrong looks for a step toward the paint in SJO's home game against Morton. The Potters held the sophomore guard scoreless for 32 minutes. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)     .:: Buy this photo ::.

Morton jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead and held it until SJO's Ashlyn Lannert found net giving her team the narrowest margin all night in the scoring gap between the #1 Class 3A team in the state with a little more than three minutes left in the first quarter. The Potters then used the next two quarters to steamroll their way to a 62-27 non-conference win.

"Games like this; going into it, you know, you just have to have fun with it," said Lannert, who led her team's scoring effort with 10 points. "They're 3A state champs. You just have to have a good attitude going into it and have a good time playing with everyone."

By the end of the first quarter the Spartans trailed by 22-9 thanks largely to shooting from Morton's aggressive defense in the form of anticipating passing lanes and swooping in to create turnovers on SJO possessions. Perimeter shooting and making 14 of their 15 first half free throw attempts stretched the Potters' lead to 25 at the half.

"That's definitely what we strive to be as a team," said Lannert, who was impressed by how tight Morton played as a team. "We'll get there some day. We're all really young and we all just need to keep working hard."

Spartan Taylor Wells takes a shot
Sophomore Taylor Wells goes up for a shot in the first half against the Potters. She finished the loss with six points for the SJO. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)     .:: Buy this photo ::.
In Morton's two games leading up to the clash in The Joe, the Potters iced the previous three opponents by 35 or more points. The Potters beat Canton 65-30 on the road at the beginning of December and crushed Pontiac at home by way of a 40-point advantage four days later, 75-35. After a three-day break, they pummeled nearby Pekin on their home court, 62-20.

You can't be the best if you don't play the best and that's why the Spartans schedule games against a program like Morton who has won the four out of the last five Class 3A state titles.

"We want to get that level at some point, too," said SJO head coach Kevin Taylor. "They have very few weaknesses if any at all. We competed the best we could and gave it our best shot."

He added: "We want to play them because that how we want to be down the road.

In addition to Lannert's team-high score, Taylor Wells came off the bench to contribute six points and Alyssa Hamilton added another four round out SJO's top three scorers.

Thanks to extremely well-discipline play, the Potters allowed just SJO just three free throw attempts. Wells missed on her only trip to the line and sophomore Abby Behrens went 1-and-1 in the fourth quarter.

The Potters had three players in double figures. Courtney Jones led all scorers with 16 points in three quarters. The senior drilled all three of her free throw attempts. Fellow senior Lindsey Dullard finished with 13 points and was 4-for-4 from the line, all in the first half against the Spartans.

Morton junior Raquel Frakes chipped in 11 points and also enjoyed a perfect night from the charity stripe hitting all three of her free throws.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 9 6 2 10 - 27
Morton 22 20 18 2 - 62

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 10, Taylor Wells 6, Abby Behrens 4, Alyssa Hamilton 5 and Anna Wentzloff 2.

Morton: Griffin 2, Becker 3, Jones 16, Frakes 11, Dearing 9, McCartney 2, Dullard, Krupa 4 and Baughman 2.

To the editor | It was not an easy decision

It was with a heavy heart that I submitted my resignation to the Saint Joseph-Ogden High School Board of Education as head coach of the SJO soccer team. It was not an easy decision but at the end of the day it was best for the student athletes, the school, myself and my family.

I am very thankful to the school administration for giving me the opportunity to coach at such a great school. I truly enjoyed all of my years on the coaching staff. We can be proud of the many great accomplishments, including:

• Four players have been given the opportunity to play in college
• One player received National Player of the Week
• Two players made All Sectional Honorable Mention
• Seven players made All Conference First Team
• Seven players made All Conference Second Team
• Five players made All Conference Honorable Mention
• One player made All Area Second Team
• Ten players made All Area Honorable Mention
• Improved discipline greatly reducing our dissent yellow cards nearly 100%

I was honored in 2018 with the Sectional Coach of the Year award in which I was nominated and voted on by local coaches for the positive impact and development of our players we were making with SJO soccer. Sadly, there are still culture changes that need to take place with the soccer program.

Regardless, I leave this position with tremendous appreciation for both the opportunity and for the experience, but more than anything I value the relationships I have developed with past & current athletes and the many friendships made along the way.

Dan Vogelsang
St. Joseph

Flashback Friday: Spartans drop close one at home

Roth Vowels rubs the head of teammate Blake Hoveln
St. Joseph-Ogden's Roth Vowels rubs the head of teammate Blake Hoveln after a big play during their Sangamon Valley Conference basketball game against Momence back on December 11 in 2009. The Redskins pulled out a 59-56 victory in an exciting 32-minute matchup. Vowels scored a team-high 20 points in the contest. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
Blake Hoveln puts up a shot up for SJO while Redskins' Jose Andrade goes up next to him to block the shot. See more photos from this week's Flashback Friday feature here. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

SJO Dance Team
SJO Dance Team Member strike a pose in the routine finale during their halftime performance. Follow this link to see more photos of St. Joseph-Ogden Dance Team from the PhotoNews. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Spartans' Will Firkins (right) gives teammate Shane Canfield a hug after sinking a basket and drawing a foul on the play. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
Spartans' Jared Orcutt looks for an open teammate to pass the ball in his team's home game against Momence. See more St. Joseph-Ogden sport photos in the PhotoNews Media Archive. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

SJO youth wrestlers win medals

Thirteen youth wrestlers from the SJO Youth Wrestling Club medaled at the 2nd Annual RWC Tournament Meet in the Middle on Sunday. The SJO Club finished 11th in the team standings out of 30 participating teams that competed at Southeast High School in Springfield.

Five young wrestlers placed in the Tots division, which is for kids ages 5 and under.

Tyson Jones was the team's only 1st finisher on the day after winning gold in his Tots division. Liam Butts placed 2nd while Will Gallo and Jack Stephenson brought home third place medal. Dean Schiff also medaled, placing fourth in the division.

In the Bantam division, Cooper Graham and Lima Powell finished 4th.

Adam Bello took 2nd and DaKarai Hill finished in 3rd place in the Intermediate division.

The club had four medalist in the senior division. Garrett Denhart and Quincy Jones had second place finishes and Landen Butts won bronze. Beau Hauersperger took a 4th medal in the division.

Senior wrestlers are ages 12-14.

Hamilton, Behrens lead SJO's girls hoops in bounce back

After dropping Saturday's home game to visiting Morton on Saturday, the St. Joseph-Ogden girls team got back on track posting a 58-47 win over visiting Paxton-Buckley-Loda last night.

Dropping six points in the third quarter, Atleigh Hamilton shared team-high scoring honors with Abby Behrens with 12 points each against the Panthers.

The Spartans also received another strong performance from a pair of sophomores. Ella Armstrong and three-sport athlete Ashley Lannert also finished with double figures with 11 points apiece.

Armstrong and Behrens, also a sophomore, capitalized on each and every trip the free throw line. Combined, the sophomores duet finished 5-for-5.

The Spartans took an early advantage in their final home contest for 2019 going up 14-5 after the first quarter. SJO kept their foot on the gas scoring double digits the last three periods to win the non-conference contest.

Mackenzie Bruns led the Paxton-Buckley-Loda scoring effort with a game-high 15 points, all tallied in the first three quarters of the game. Teammate Kirra Lantz added another 10 points to the losing cause while junior Baylee Cosgrove booked another eight points.

The Spartans are on the road tonight picking on yet another big school program. SJO take on the Urbana, now under of the leadership of former St. Thomas More head coach Chris Mennig. The Tigers were 4-4 heading into their game against Peoria Notre Dame on Saturday.

Led by seniors Chian Scott and Raevyn Russell, both major scoring machines, Urbana is 1-1 against Illini Prairie Conference Teams. Unity rolled to a 59-49 win and the Tigers knocked off the Sages in Monticello 62-45 last week.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 14 11 18 15 - 58
Paxton-Buckley-Loda 5 14 14 14 - 47

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 11, Payton Jacob 6, Atleigh Hamilton 12, Abby Behrens 12, Taylor Barnes 4, Payton Vallee 2 and Ella Armstrong 11.

Paxton-Buckley-Loda: E. Adwell 6, Walder 4, Casgrove 8, Schwarz 2, Bruns 15, Lantz 10 and Ecker 2.

Still holiday shopping? Seven 2019 gift ideas from Bohemia

If you are still looking for a gift for that hard-to-buy-for-person on your Christmas list, Bohemia in downtown Urbana may have just what you need.

Packed full of unique jewelry, candles, stylish clothing, vintage and custom-made furniture as well as other unique handcrafted items, there's plenty to choose from for the special someone with a unique sense of style or flair for the eclectic.

Partial to vintage decor? Repurposed or refurbished, there is an abundant selection of vintage furniture waiting for a new home. From funky to functional, Bohemia also has candles as well as handmade soaps and lotions for stocking stuffers.

The Sentinel asked owner Milea Hayes for a couple of gift ideas for this Christmas from her store. She came up with the seven fabulous items featured below.

You can't go wrong with a beautiful ring or bracelet. Wear a new necklace or pennant to your New Year's Eve party or better yet, something completely new. Bohemia currently represents 11 artists whose work is priced from $32 and up.

Soap, lotion and candles
and more ...

Enjoy local made soaps and lotions. Try a new lip balms. These along with candles and note pads all make great stocking stuffers.

Prices range between $3 and $14


Reconditioned seafoam dresser

Oil paintings
Starting at $125

Vintage end table lamps

4. & 5.
Left: There's plenty of distinctive hand-painted tees and onesies by artist Mollie Youngblood. Prices range from $21 to $28. Right: Boutique clothing, long scarves, warm hats and gloves are always a unique find at Bohemia. Create a style of your own or complete an ensemble you already have. Quality clothing priced from $42 to $225.

Holiday Sweaters
Warm and cheerful holiday sweaters priced between $68 and $92.

Home Furnishings
Enjoy this reupholstered with an army blanket and added leather trim. A classy addition to your office or den, this cane chair was revitalized by interior designer Angie Taylor. Chair and adorning pillow $285.

Bohemia, located at 135 West Main in Urbana, is open Monday through Friday from 10am - 6pm, Saturday from 10am - 5pm, and on Sundays open from 11am - 3pm. Call ahead for extended holiday hours.

"We're just going to keep working hard", SJO suffers another loss

Ashlyn Lannert battles for a loose ball with Morton's Courtney Jones in the Spartans home game on Saturday. Lannert led SJO in scoring with ten points in the 62-27 loss. The Potters have won three out of the last four Class 3A state titles. "Games like this you know you just have to have fun with it," said Lannert, a sophomore guard. "We're just going to keep working hard and beat PBL on Monday hopefully." (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Izard leads Spartans in loss to Tri-Valley

Despite drilling five treys and 6-for-7 shooting from the free throw line by St. Joseph-Ogden's Chance Izard, the Spartans drop their first game of the season in a non-conference dual against Tri-Valley, 66-64.

SJO (7-1) used three shots by Izard to take the lead with 1:44 left in the third quarter. The senior was fouled on a fade away jumper tying the game at 37-all. After sinking his free throw, the Spartans seized the momentum to end the period with a four-point lead at 44-39.

Two and half minutes in the fourth quarter, Ty Pence swished a long ball for three to SJO their largest lead in the last half of the game with seven points.

"We were getting beat to spots," said Izard, who led all scorers with 27 points. "It seemed like every other play they were shooting free throws and I think they really benefited from that."

Then, with less than three minutes on the clock the Spartans could not buy a basket in a cold streak that lasted nearly a minute and half while the Vikings took advantage of 17 trips to the charity stripe.

Prior to the last quarter, Tri-Valley shot just seven free throws.

"We were lacking energy today," said Pence. The freshman dropped four first half three-pointers on his way to 17 points today. "We go up five or six points and then have a let down. We'd get down on ourselves and then start fouling."

He added: "We really need to push through that and focus on our game."

Drew Coursey grabbed a season-high 11 boards and finished game seven of the season with eight points. The senior hit all four of his free throws in the final quarter of the game.

Tri-Valley was led by starting forward Jack Moore with 24 points. Braden Zenor, who made six of his nine free throws in the final quarter, finished with 14 points. Both of the Vikings' leading scorers finished with seven of their team's 25 rebounds.

St. Joseph-Ogden: Payton Cain 2, Jordan Kelly 2, Drew Coursey 8, Payton Grimsley 5, Chance Izard 27 and Ty Pence 17.

Tri-Valley: Connor 8, Moore 24, Zenor 14, Norman 6, Butler 6, Anderson 3 and Williams 5.

It's been a year now

After months of careful planning, The Sentinel published its first story one year ago today.

Initially I wanted to publish a weekly paper on newsprint delivered to every home just as The Leader had done in the first 30 some years of its existence. After weeks of research, pouring over financial models and talking to business owners I hoped would advertise, it be came clear that the print model would not be viable. Developing an online version, I moved forward.

It all started with this story: New name, holiday basketball tradition continues at St. Joseph-Ogden High School last December. Since then, The Sentinel has published 213 more pieces, 214 if you count this one.

Honestly, I started The Sentinel because I didn't have much choice. There are not a lot a career options for guys with my first name. You are either a mild-mannered reporter (or photographer in my case) or an actor with a name like Clark. No way could I compete with Idris Elba, Denzel, Brad or Daniel Craig for a leading roll on the silver screen. I'll gladly stay out of their lane.

I started The Sentinel and happily will blame long time resident Scott Hunter for it.

He was the founder and publisher of The Leader until it was purchased by The News-Gazette, who later ran it aground and shuddered it a year ago this past August. Mr. Hunter was, and still is though retired, in my humble opinion a Jedi master of the newspaper publishing industry.

While he may be the antithesis of Yoda in stature, his more than abundant experience from more than 40 years in the business, knowledge and analytical acumen of every facet of the newspaper business has been both invaluable and illuminating in helping me converge today's technology to build, your hometown online news source. Thanks to his enthusiastic encouragement and sharp, light sabre like wit, I threw caution to the stars last year and don't regret it for millennium.

Now 12 months into the uncharted regions of digital publishing, seemingly the final frontier of news media, I look forward to my new found mission: To share stories, record history and boldly build The Sentinel, taking it where no online newspaper has gone before (yes, crossfade Star Trek theme here). Whoooosh!

What were The Sentinel's top stories in the first year of our journey? Here's the short list, the top five, most-read articles on

1. Seventeen named Illinois state scholars at SJO
2. 12 area students earn UofI degrees
3. Volleyball goes out with a victory, SJO finishes #3 in the state
4. SJO sets State Farm Classic record
5. 173 students earn High Honor Roll honors at SJO

Any time you have news to share about an upcoming event, a recent accomplishment, job promotion or running for public office, please don't hesitate to contact me at or send a direct message on the Sentinel Facebook. If you have a story to tell I'll happily listen.

Thank you for visiting regularly. I look forward to another year of watching over the people The Sentinel cares about.

Clark Brooks

Pence has career night, SJO improves to 6-0

Behind four treys from Ty Pence, the St. Joseph-Ogden basketball team cruised past Rantoul Township for their first conference win last night, 60-37. SJO remains undefeated improving to 6-0.

Pence commanded the floor with a season-high 22 points and was 4-for-5 from the free throw line. He, along with senior Conner Hodge with eight points, led the team on the boards with eight apiece.

In fact, the Spartans ruled the paint out-rebounding the visiting Eagles, 39-14.

In addition to the 16 from Pence and Hodge, Payton Cain (6 points, 7 rebounds) and Drew Coursey (2 points, 6 rebounds) posted season-high totals from their participation in the paint.

The Eagles were paced by 5-11 guard Kamrynnn Rome with 11 points and junior Jaxson Freeman with nine.

The Spartans hosts Tri-Valley this afternoon at 3:30p to finish a back-to-back game series this weekend. On Tuesday, SJO travel to Champaign to face the Maroons of Central in another non-conference contest before their State Farm Holiday Classic opener on December 26.

The JV boys’ basketball team also won their season opener crushing Rantoul in similar fashion, 75-38.

Box Score

St. Joseph-Ogden: Conner Hodge 8, Payton Cain 6, Jordan Kelly 4, Drew Coursey 2, Payton Grimsley 7, Chance Izard 7, Ty Pence 22 and Luke Renfrew 4.

Rantoul: Buford 2, Freeman 9, Lee 3, Rome 11, Shaw 4, Space 3, Wilkerson 3 and Winston 2.

Dismal fourth quarter sinks Spartans

It was a really bad fourth quarter.

Spartan Ashlyn Lannert's two baskets was best the offense could produce against visiting Teutopolis (8-1) in the final quarter of their non-conference 41-38 loss on Thursday.

SJO trailed 34-27 heading into the final quarter where they were subsequently outscored 13-4 by the Lady Shoes.

Ella Armstrong and Atleigh Hamilton teamed up for 15 of SJO's 31 points. Armstrong's team-high nine points and Hamilton's six was supplemented by a full house of three Spartan players with four points - Lannert, Payton Jacob and Abby Behrens - and a pair of deuces courtesy of Payton Vallee and Taylor Wells.

St. Joseph-Ogden moves to 8-2 with another tough home game Saturday night when they host the undefeated Potters from Morton at 7:15p.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 8 10 9 4 - 31
Teutopolis 12 11 11 14 - 48

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 4, Payton Jacob 4, Taylor Wells 2, Atleigh Hamilton 6, Abby Behrens 4, Payton Vallee 2 and Ella Armstrong 9.

Teutopolis: Tegeler 3, L. Niebrugge 10, Roepke 13, Schumacher 2, NIemerg 6, Mette 12 and Hardiek 2.

Nine last minute holiday gifts from World Harvest

Whether you are looking for a tasty stocking stuffer or a last minute gift for a co-worker or a friend, add a bit of international flavor to recipient of you holiday kindness.

World Harvest, located at 306 West Springfield Avenue in Urbana, is the home of some of the world's finest international and gourmet foods. In addition to organic local meat and produce available at the store, sharing space with Strawberry Fields fresh baked bread, pastries, salads and sandwiches are available daily. You will find ingredients and spices from the Europe, Mexico, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia to give you next international dish authentic flavors.

In this article, we are featuring nine gift ideas to fit any budget from the hundreds of other gifts to shop from at World Harvest.

Boska Fondue Set

This stylish fondue set is made from earthenware and wooden frame with modern stainless steel. With a burner, base and six fondue forks, the set is supplied with everything you need to make your first cheese or chocolate dip right away. The heat of the burner can be regulated with the handy flame distributor, so that your fondue does not burn. The pan is dishwasher safe for quick post-party clean up. $69.99

Kuchen Meister Marzipansollen
Stollen is a traditional sweet, fruit filled bread, usually made with candied fruit, raisins and marzipan filling, that is staple celebrating German holidays. It can be toasted or microwaved before serving and eaten with honey, jam or butter. Have a slice with the first cup of coffee in morning or serve as a light desert. $9.99

Panettone Classico

Panettone is an Italian sweet bread loaf, originally from Milan, according to Wikipedia. It typically available around the Christmas and New Year holidays not only in Italy but throughout the southern Europe and parts of South America. Like Stollen, it is made with raisins as well as candied orange, citron, and lemon zest. It can be served as a snack or dessert with butter or chocolate for those wanting a more decadent experience. $8.99
Quality Street

This tin of individually wrapped Milk and Dark Chocolates, Toffees and Fruit Cremes is great to have around the home for guest or at the office when you work buddy stops by your desk. First manufactured in England in 1936, the Nestle company ships these around the world. $20.99

Harvest of Saffron
Referred to as 'red gold', saffron is the world's most expensive spice. The wholesale price of saffron can be any where between $1000 to $5000 per kilogram depending on the quality. It is a must have for dishes like paella and bouillabaisse. Many will tell you for that to have a truly authentic Spanish or Italian taste, you need to add a bit of saffron to the dish as you prepare it. World Harvest carries several varieties in different sizes to impress guests with your next Italian or Spanish influenced meal. $109

This Illinois-shaped cutting board is made from Bamboo fibers. Durable and knife-friendly - they don't dull knives with repeated use - this is would be great in the kitchen or to serve snack on at your next tailgage. $18.95
Hamlet Chocolate
Beautifully made sea shell shaped chocolates filled with hazelnuts and other natural flavors, these mouthwatering Belgian delights just need wrapped or a quick bow and ribbon if you are looking for a last minute gift for the chocolate lover in your life. $6.99

A is a traditional home-made dessert in Croatia. Bajadera is a popular treat made of layered nougat with almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts. $14.99

Walkers Rich Fruit Pudding
Walkers Rich Fruit Plum Pudding is a traditional treat for the holiday season in the United Kingdom. Made with raisins, sultanas, candied peel, mixed spices, syrup, milk and wheat, it tastes great warmed out of the microwave or toaster oven. You can drizzle brandy or whiskey over it and light it on fire for a memorable finish to your Christmas dinner. $17.99

#TBT: SJO wrestling rolls over Central, 45-22

Casey Buss cross-faces Central's Steve Tillman
Above: SJO's Casey Buss cross-faces Central's Steve Tillman during their 171 lb. junior varsity match on Thursday, December 2 back in 2004. Buss pinned Tillman as St. Joseph-Ogden, an IHSA Class A school, beat local Class 2A wrestling powerhouse Champaign Central for the first time in the program's history with a decisive 45-22 victory. Right: Senior Heather Duitsman sings the National Anthem at the start of SJO first home wrestling meet of the 2004-05 season.
Heather Duitsman sings the National Anthem

Mark Gones tries rolling out of a pin attempt

Jerod Flessner works hard to pin Maroons' Mike Vignola
Left: St. Joseph-Ogden junior Mark Gones tries rolling out of a pin attempt by Maroons' Mario Pulani. Pulani won the decision 15-3 to help Central's cause. The decision mattered little in the Spartans' huge program victory that year. Gones went on that season to qualify for state the 152-lb weight class in February of 2005 along with five other SJO qualifiers that included Lukas Graves (Freshman, 112), Blake Speckman (Sophomore, 140), Billy Gallo (Junior, 145), Tim Hill (Senior, 160) and Ben Gorman (Senior, 171). Above: SJO's Jerod Flessner works hard to pin Maroons' Mike Vignola after reversing out near fall himself. Flessner lost the match 2-5. Photo credit: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Six holiday gift pleasers from Miranda's Loom at Lincoln Square

Located in Lincoln Square Mall, Miranda's Loom features the work of around 15 local fine art artists. From intricate fiber arts to eye-catching pottery, there dozens of gift ideas you won't find anywhere else in Champaign-Urbana. Whether it is metal work, finely crafted turned wood or understated ikebana vases, there are dozens of art pieces waiting to become a sentimental addition to any home's decor.

Owner Leann Gehm is an award-winning artist who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art and a Master of Science degree in Art Therapy. Preferring plant-based natural fibers for her work, Gehm crafts colorful pieces with delicate precision.

Miranda's Loom, located near the mall center across from the food court, is open Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 6pm and on Saturday's from 10am - 2pm.

Below are six of more than of dozen one of a kind gift ideas from Miranda's Loom to put a smile on the face of that special someone this holiday season. See something you like? You will want to visit Gehm's store as soon as you can to see if the pieces featured below are still available.

Handwoven, lightweight cowls full view

Handwoven, lightweight cowls
Handwoven cowls
Above: Created on the premises, choose from more than a dozen handwoven cowls by artist and owner Leann Gehm. This piece is perfect when you want a lighter accessory for a splash of color or to keep you a bit warmer on a chilly day in the office or when out on the town. Gehm's cowls are eco-friendly made from eucalyptus fiber and embellished with glass beads. They are lightweight, silky with a wonderful drape. $68.

Below: While bracelets are commonly used as an accessory item to finish off a look, for many people they are more than just a stylish accessory. In some cultures bracelets carry a meaning deeper than the threads that compose them and are intimate gifts for both men and women. Made by Sarah Bernzott her free-spirited style will make a splash this holiday season. Prices from $12 - $50.

Miranda's Loom gift cards
Gift Cards
Miranda's Loom Gift Cards are the perfect gift for the person who is difficult to buy for; let them choose from hundreds of art pieces in the store. There are handcrafted greeting cards, handmade basketry, gorgeous scarves for every occasion and more.

Available starting at $25 & up.

Created by Paul Borian from Blanket Creek Pottery, his stoneware features high-luster glazes and an elegant form. Buy a single piece or choose from several available sets in the store today. Prices range $26 - $56 per piece.

Featuring mixed metals and semi-precious gemstones, Sarah Bernzott necklaces are stylish and unique for a refined finish to any outfit. Prices range $12 - $50.

Find more gift ideas for this holiday season on the Miranda's Loom website at

High school soccer coach resigns this week

Dan Vogelsang applauds his team's effort
SJO coach Dan Vogelsang claps for his team after the home game against Rantoul in 2018. The four-year head coach resigned this week. (PhotoNews Media File Photo)

Earlier this week, head coach Daniel Voglesang tendered his resignation after four seasons at the helm of St. Joseph-Ogden High School soccer program.

"His resignation will be brought before the Board of Education on December 18," said Athletic Director Justin Franzen, who confirmed the report by email. "While a timeline has yet to be determined, the administration is currently evaluating the situation and will put a plan in place that will best suit the needs of our soccer program."

Under Voglesang's direction, the Spartans, who won their regional semifinal against Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond, 2-1, finished this past season with a record of 7 wins, 14 losses and 4 ties. His four-year record was 37-44-12.

The Spartans also posted wins over Schlarman, Oakwood, Georgetown-Ridge Farm-Westville and Watseka. The four-senior team tallied two conference wins, beating Unity 1-0 at home and posting a 2-1 road victory at Olympia.

Editor's Note: When The Sentinel first published this story, we inadvertently listed SJO's four-year record, using various sources available online, as 22-44-12. The story has been updated with the correct total of 37-44-12. We apologize for the error.

Opening games set for SJO at annual State Farm Classic

The 8-1 St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team earned a #4 seed out 16 small school programs set to square off at this year's State Farm Holiday Classic.

The Spartans open their bid for another tournament title this season at Normal Community High School, one of four tournament sites in Bloomington-Normal, against #13 Bishop McNamara at 8pm on December 26. Depend on how they fair against Fightin' Irish, they will face either Normal University High or Rockford Lutheran in either the championship or consolation semifinals on Friday.

Other teams in the upper portion of the bracket with SJO is Rock Falls, El Paso-Gridley, Oakwood and Annawan.

The boys squad, led by Chance Izard and frosh Ty Pence, were awarded the #6 seed.

They will tipoff at 5pm across town at Normal West at 5p against the Annawan Braves leaving plenty of time for Spartan fans to make both games the day after Christmas.

The Spartans, who opened their season on a 5-0 win streak and won the Toyota of Danville Classic title this past week, will be put to the test at the Classic.

The other six teams in the bottom half of the bracket with them include Rockford Lutheran, Tri-Valley, Rock Falls, Fieldcrest, Bishop McNamara and fellow conference team the #2 seeded Bloomington Central Catholic Saints. The complete boys bracket is here.

Single session passes are $8.00 for adults and $6.00 for students (K-12), senior citizens, active military and veterans. Admission for children under 5 years of age is free. All-Day and All-Tournament passes are also available. Find more ticket information here.

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