Spartan basketball opens at Tip-Off on November 18

Ten days from tomorrow the St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team open their 2019-20 season at the Lady Falcon & Bunnie Tip-Off Classic on Monday, November 18. Here is the schedule and locations for the early season tourney.

Spartans runners head to state

Both the boys and girls cross country teams at St. Joseph-Ogden will be in the running for this year's Class 1A IHSA State Finals on Saturday.

The men's squad finished third in the team standings after last Saturday's sectional meet in Effingham. SJO's top five runners accumulated 158 points behind Urbana U-High (96 points) and sectional champions Monticello with 42 points.

Junior Brandon Mattsey finished the course at 16.56 and Eric Poe clocked in at 17.16. Both runners turned in times nearly minute slower than their times near the end of September due to the muddy, marsh like conditions along the course.

"Our coach had us run without socks," said Poe, a second-year veteran. He was the 22nd runner to cross the finish line. "It made it much easier to run with just spikes."

Saturday will be a first Poe, who will be running in his first state cross country meet. He excited about the opportunity to run against some of the top runners in the state.

"Every team there, every runner is high quality," he said. "The quality of the runners that will be there, that's what I'm excited about."

The senior is glad he left football, he played his frosh and sophomore season, as his fall sport and jumped into the sport of cross country.

"I don't regret the decision," he said with pride. "I'm very thankful for the coach I have and my teammates who have been helping me along. It is not an easy sport."

Also running for the Spartans at the sectional meet was Charlie Mabry, who turned a time of 17.40. Three other runners - Elijah Mock (17.50), Logan Wolfersberger (17.52) and Luke Stegall (17.53) - finished under the 18 minute mark. Lukas Hutcherson was the last St. Joseph-Ogden off the course at 18.49.

The Spartans will run their final race of the season at Detweiller Park in Peoria on Saturday. The girls race starts at 9 a.m.. An hour later boys race starts at 10 a.m..

If you plan to head to Peoria for the state meet, here are the bib number of SJO runners to look out for: 702 — Ethan Blackburn (Fr.), 703 — Braden Clampitt (So.), 704 — Zach Dahman (Fr.), 705 — Lukas Hutcherson (Jr.), 706 — Charlie Mabry (So.), 707 — Brandon Mattsey (Jr.), 708 — Elijah Mock (So.), 709 — Taddy Pettit (Sr.), 710 — Eric Poe (Sr.), 711 — Josh Sexton (Sr.), 712 — Luke Stegall (So.) and 713 — Logan Wolfersberger (Jr.).

The SJO girls will be wearing the following numbers for their race: 253 — Addie Allen (So.), 254 — Kaytlyn Baker (Fr.), 255 — Sidney Davis (So.), 256 — Hanna Eastin (Jr.), 257 — Kailyn Ingram (So.), 258 — Ava Knap (So.), 259 — Ashlyn Lannert (So.), 260 — Ally Monk (Sr.), 261 — Jillian Plotner (Sr.), 262 — Hannah Rajlich (Sr.), 263 — Hope Rajlich (So.), 264 — Kendra Riddle (So.), 265 — Malorie Sarnecki (So.) and 266 — Taryn Sexton (So.).

St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball squad cracks Elite 8 with 2-1 sectional championship victory

Herscher staved off four consecutive match points in the third and final set, closing the gap to 24-23, before Spartan Kennedi Burnett sealed the deal for the St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team at the Class 2A Watseka sectional plaque last night.

Burnett, a sophomore outside hitter, capped the night with a double-double (17 kills, 10 digs) to help the St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team extend their season two more days and one match, at the very least. After a grueling 25-19, 12-25, 25-23 victory, SJO carried home their second postseason sectional title in three years and advanced to the Palos Heights supersectional.

SJO volleyball senior Class of 2020
St. Joseph-Ogden's magical season is powered by nine seniors on the 14 spot roster that makes up this year's volleyball squad. The Class of 2020 players include (left to right) Katelyn Berry, Lacey Kaiser, Lindsey Aden, Stephanie Trame, Rylee Stahl, Emily Bigger, Jenna Albrecht, Kenly Taylor and Anna Wentzloff. After at 2-1 win over Herscher on Wednesday evening, the Spartans, who will face Chicago Christian on the Knights' home court for the supersectional title, are just one win away from reaching the Illinois High School Association state finals on November 15-16. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

The Spartan win closed the door the Tigers' storybook season after their second-ever Sweet Sixteen appearance in program history. In one of their best seasons in more than a half decade, Herscher (32-6) secured the school’s first regional title since 2012 and a share of the Illinois Central Eight Conference crown with a squad staffed similar to SJO with 10, instead of nine, seniors.

Bringing her A-game to the hardwood, Emily Bigger's passing allowed the Spartan hitting crew of Burnett, senior Katelyn Berry and junior Payton Vallee to stay aggressive enough to smash the ball past their tenacious opponents. Bigger, also a senior and had six digs, was credited with 40 assists.

Berry's vicious swing contributed 10 kills to the Spartan effort. Vallee added another 11. Lacey Kaiser, another senior on the crew, contributed six to round out the attack from the front line.

Another senior, Rylee Stahl, one of the team's three defensive stars, logged 17 digs.

Wednesday night's three-setter win was St. Joseph-Ogden's 35th of the season and kicked their win streak one tick to 20. The last time head coach Abby McDonald won a Sweet Sixteen title, her team placed second at Redbird Arena in the state finals.

Next in their path to a state finals appearance, the Spartans will lock swords with the 32 win, five loss Knights of Chicago Christian Friday evening in Palos Heights. The supersectional match is slated to start at 6:30 p.m. on their opponent's home court.

After their three-set regional semifinal opener against Nobel/Butler, the Knights have given up a total of just 25 points in two matches since then. Chicago Christian also received a bye, courtesy of a double-forfeit, as a result of the Chicago Public School strike last month.

The location suits McDonald just fine who has repeatedly said all season that this year's squad, who are one win away from reaching the IHSA state finals, plays better on the road than at home.

Two of the Spartans' four losses were at home. Of the four, the only team that remains in the postseason is St. Teresa, who faces Orion in the Farmington Supersectional. Champaign Central, St. Thomas More and Mahomet-Seymour have been eliminated from the postseason brackets.

St. Joe Santa 5k is set for December 21

If you live in St. Joseph, don't be surprised if you wake up four days before Christmas and see hundreds of fit-looking Santas running through the village. No, these Kris Kringle knockoffs won't be looking for lost reindeer or handing out early holiday presents to those who've been extra nice this year. The red shirts will be running in the 2019 St. Joe Santa 5K run/walk on December 21.
runners at Santa 5K
Runners start out on the 2018 Ho-ho-ho 5K in 2018. Re-dubbed the St. Joe Santa 5k this will be the second installment of the Christmas holiday season race. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Last year's race attracted just over 300 runners and organizers hope that number will grow. The St. Joe Santa 5k Run/Walk is a non-profit organization whose main mission is to raise money to benefit local charities through various health and fitness events.

When runners pick up their race day packets, each participant will receive a Santa hat, Santa beard and a red race shirt to wear while running the course. Each runner will also receive a commemorative medal as they cross the finish line.

The event, organized by veteran runners Brenda Hixson and Max Painter, is slated to start time at 9 am. The registration fee is $25.00 for each runner.

For the latest information runners and spectators can find more information on the St. Joe 5K Facebook group page or on the official race website at Online registration is going on now here: St. Joe 5K.

SJO volleyball defeats Seneca in two sets, team advances to sectional title match

The St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team is back in familiar territory. For a second straight season the girls team will play for a sectional championship award.

The Spartans (32-4) defeated Seneca 25-17, 25-11, making a reservation as one of the two teams to play for the Watseka title. The other team, Herscher, will square off with SJO at 6pm at Watseka.

Last year, SJO fell in the title match to eventual state bronze medalists St. Thomas More, 25-22, 25-13. The Sabers also knocked Abby McDonald's 2017 squad out of the postseason after a 2-0 win for the regional title.

On Monday, sophomore hitter Kennedi Burnett led the SJO offense against Lady Irish with 12 kills and four digs. Heather Stahl added another seven digs to help her team who have not dropped a match since September 26 and who are enjoying a 17-match win streak.

Senior passer Emily Bigger had 18 assist and six digs to help put the Spartans just two matches away from a possible return to Illinois High School Association Class 2A state tournament. Three season ago the SJO volleyball team, who went 31-4, finished the season as division's runner up in 2016.

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