Spartans scrap Rockets - Cain scores 15 for SJO

In the opening quarter of their Illini Prairie Conference game, Chance Izard sank three treys to help St. Joseph-Ogden establish a first half 26-20 lead over Unity at the Rocket Center on Tuesday. He would swish one more in the third period before falling silent for the remainder game as the Spartans persevered, surviving a battle royale with rowdy Rockets, 54-46.

"It was really a hard-fought game," Izard said. The senior, who was 4-for-7 from three point range, finished the night with 14 points. "Toward the end, down the stretch, we took care of things and ended up getting the win."

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SJO's Conner Hodge pulls down a rebound
Conner Hodge tries to snag a defensive rebound for the Spartans. Hodge finished the conference win with eight of SJO's 32 rebounds. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Committing nine turnovers didn't help the Spartans' cause. In most instances the possession changes offered opportunities for Unity's Jared Routh, who posted 18 points, to put the ball through the net.

Izard said one of things that he and his fellow teammates need to focus on is ball possession. In particular, he pointed out turnovers.

"That's pretty obvious," he said. "Ultimately, we just have to be more prepared mentally."

When they needed him most, Payton Cain stepped up to lead the Spartan offense finishing the away game with one point more than Izard behind a 63.3% shooting effort. The senior guard also had six boards and four steals.

One thing for sure, Unity's 4-14 record did not match their resolve or effort against the Spartans.

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Ty Pence blocks a shot
Ty Pence blocks a Unity's Nate Drennan. SJO's big man scored seven points. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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Payton Grimsley dribbling the ball
Payton Grimsley drives to the paint during first half action. The senior finished the night with six points and five rebounds. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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SJO dance team
A member of the SJO Dance team performs with her team and the Unity Rockettes during halftime. Both dance teams advanced out of the Effingham sectional to compete at this weekend's IHSA Competitive Dance State Finals. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

"We knew they wanted it and they played like it," Izard said about the coveted W between the two longtime rival programs.

Routh, who like Izard finished the night with four treys, was proud the way his fellow Rockets brought their A-game to the hardwood against the Spartans.

"I think we all stepped up in a major way," said Routh, one of four Unity seniors this season. Despite the loss and having yet to post a win in 2020, he was happy with the strides his teammates have made since the start of the season. "I believe we all took it to the next level."

Spartan senior Conner Hodge lead all players in rebounds, aggressively hauling in seven defensive ones and one offensive board. Drew Coursey snagged another five for SJO.

Next up, St. Joseph-Ogden hosts 18-5 Prairie Central on Friday. The Hawks suffered a snap in an eight-game win streak after losing to Pontiac on the road, 54-50. Tipoff for the conference showdown is scheduled for 7pm.

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Despite being knocked off his feet, Referee Keith Johnson keeps his eyes on the action during second half action between the Spartans and Rockets. Johnson quickly got back on his feet with no interruption to the flow of the game. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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While trying to slash his way into the paint, Payton Cain loses control of the ball with a little help from Unity's Blake Kimball. Cain led the SJO scoring effort with 15 points. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 12 14 14 14 - 54
Team 2 10 10 16 10 - 46

St. Joseph-Ogden: Conner Hodge 3, Payton Cain 15, Jordan Kelly 5, Drew Coursey 4, Payton Grimsley 6, Chance Izard 14 and Ty Pence 7.

Unity: Blake Kimball 2, JP Bowers 3, Jared Routh 18, Nate Drennan 10, Jordan Clark 5 and Karson Ewerks 8.

Barnes scores 18 in Monticello win

Taylor Barnes had a great game against Monticello.

Making seven of her nine free throw attempts, Barnes scored a game-high 18 points in St. Joseph-Ogden's 47-39 home win over the Sages.

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Spartan Atleigh Hamilton tries to steal the ball from Sages' Lizzie Stiverson. Hamilton gave a strong defensive effort to help the Spartans extend their record to a two-game win streak. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

"She made free throws and she was aggressive," was the first thing head coach Kevin Taylor said about the senior's performance in the Martin Luther King Day contest. "We always talk to her about being more aggressive. She made a couple of drives and got a couple of rebounds - she just put it altogether tonight."

It was by no means a clean basketball game. Both teams engaged in scrappy play, something the SJO, despite their youth was better at.

"It was a scrappy, physical game. Whenever we play our conference schools it can be that way," he said. "Everybody wants to win."

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Monticello's Olivia Swanson dribbles around Ella Armstrong
Monticello's Olivia Swanson tries to dribble past SJO sophomore Ella Armstrong during first half action. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

A week ago Monday, Taylor's Spartans wanted it more.

Up by one thanks to Barnes' seven points in the second quarter at the half, the Spartans played a much stronger second half.

"We didn't start the best," Taylor pointed out. "We still got a lot to work. I know the end of the year is getting here pretty quick, but I liked that they settled in and started running a little bit better offense."

St. Joseph-Ogden played a consistent pace producing 13 points in the last three quarters of the Illini Prairie Conference game.

Despite missing two of her three free throws, Katie Cramer was the Spartans' second leading scorer with eight points. Ella Armstrong scored six and Ashlyn Lannert enter the game after the start contributing another five points.

Monticello center Jayna Burger finished with 15 points. The 5-11 senior was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Cleo Clark, who converted five out of her six trips to the charity stripe, finished with 10 points for the Sages.

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Katie Cramer fights for control of a loose ball
Senior Katie Cramer scoops up a loose ball in the second half between Monticello's Cloe Clark and Lizzie Stiverson. Cramer finished the contest with eight points. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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Payton Vallee inspects boo-boo
Payton Vallee checks her elbow after a hard fall during second half action against the Sages. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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Atleigh fights for offensive rebound
In the midst of a sea of hair and arms, Atleigh Hamilton snags a rebound for the Spartans. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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Ella Armstrong grabs the ball
Ella Armstrong looks up while she secures the ball after ripping it from the grasp on Monticello Jayna Burger. Armstrong finished with six points in the conference win over the Sages. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 8 13 13 13 - 47
Monticello 10 10 7 12 - 39

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ella Armstrong 6, Payton Valle 4, Taylor Barnes 18, Katie Cramer 8, Atleigh Hamilton 2, Taylor Wells 2, Payton Jacob 2 and Ashlyn Lannert 5.

Monticello: Cloe Clark 10, Renni Fultz 6, Lizzie Stiverson 8 and Jayna Burger 15.

Four tie for team-high in conference loss to Unity

Plagued by a mid-game shooting slump where St. Joseph-Ogden (15-6) could only muster a mere 13 points over two quarters, the Spartans girls basketball team dropped their Illini Prairie road game to Unity, 49-40.

It took five hardworking SJO players to match the Rockets' one girl scoring machine Elyce Knudsen and her first quarter output on January 13. Ashyln Lannert, Payton Jacob, Atleigh Hamilton, Taylor Barnes and Ella Armstrong combined for 14 points in the opening frame to offset the Unity senior's 13.

As the game wore on, the Spartans ability to produce points to keep up with the Rockets (14-6) temporarily fell by the wayside.

Outscored 13-4 in the third quarter where Lannert made two free throws and sophomore Alyssa Hamilton chipped in a bucket, the Spartans unsuccessfully tried claw their way back in the fourth.

Four St. Joseph-Ogden players tied for the team-high with six points. Lannert, Atleigh Hamilton, Katie Cramer and Barnes matched their game combined for 24 of the Spartans 40 points.

Knudsen, after dropping 18 points in the first half, led Unity's effort with a game-high 29 points.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 14 9 4 13 - 40
Unity 13 13 12 11 - 49

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 6, Payton Jacob 5, Atleight Hamilton 6, Katie Cramer 6, Abby Behrens 2, Taylor Barnes 6, Alyssa Hamilton 4 and Ella Armstrong 5.

Unity: Chloee Reed 6, Lauren Miller 3, Taylor Henry 9, Elyce Knudsen 29 and Martina Miebach 2.

Back-to-back, SJO Dance Team qualifies for IHSA state finals

For a second consecutive season, the St. Joseph-Ogden Dance Team will compete at the Illinois High School Association's Competitive State Dance Finals at Grossinger Motor Arena in Bloomington. The Spartans gracefully danced their way to state after finishing in fourth place at the Effingham sectional last Saturday.

Members of the SJO Dance Team perform their hip-hop routine at the Spartans' home basketball game against Paxton-Buckley-Loda. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

"We are so excited to be going to IHSA State again this year! I believe we have the hardest 1A sectional in the state and we competed against a lot of really good teams on Saturday," said head coach Emily Williams. "I knew these girls could do it, but also knew the competition was very tough, so we are elated to have made the top six out of the 17 teams in our sectional!"

The top six teams from five sectionals around the state advanced to the state finals this weekend. SJO finished with a score of 82.40 behind the Unity Rockettes' 83.97 and Clinton's 89.77. Jacksonville High School won the sectional title with a score of 89.83. Host St. Anthony took fifth place and Quincy Notre Dame rounded out the top six schools in the division.

"It’s fun to bring something new, when everyone is expecting you to do what you’ve always done!"
The dance team is the fourth St. Joseph-Ogden athletic program to qualify for state finals competition this academic year. Both the girls and boys cross country squads, along with the Class 2A third-place volleyball team, have earned the title of state finalists since last August.

Williams says there are several elements to being a successful competitive dancer.

"(It is) mostly hard work, dedication and willingness to get out of your comfort zone," she said. "Dancers also need patience, as you aren’t going to be able to do new things overnight. The love for dance might be the most important thing, it makes all of the hard work and dedication worth it."

The Spartans will perform their routine in the preliminary round at the 'Big Dance' on Friday at 10:47am. The top 12 teams advance to Saturday's Class 1A finals.

"We definitely have to bring our A-game on Friday," Williams said. "We will need to hit all of our choreography and technique. We also always remind the girls that no matter how nervous they are, they have to go out there and have fun and that will show through in their dancing."

This will be the fourth trip to the state finals for the SJO program since the IHSA started hosting a competitive dance state series in 2013. Dancers in 2014, 2016 and last year have performed in the prelims. This year could be the first time in school history that SJO dancers will have a chance to compete in the finals.

In the past three trips to state the St. Joseph-Ogden squads performed hip-hop routines. This year's competition routine will be different.

"We are competing with our lyrical routine for IHSA this year, which is a first for our team," Williams, who said her team is great at performing both lyrical and hip-hop routines. Like the other athletic teams the school supports, Spartans are never ones to shy away from a challenge. "It’s fun to bring something new, when everyone is expecting you to do what you’ve always done!"

Lyrical dance is typically composed of movements and techniques from classical ballet, modern and jazz dance. Routines are usually expressive and innovative. Performed to music, the movements designed to express strong feelings and emotions interpreted from the song's lyrics by the choreographer.

Members expected to compete on Friday include captains senior Ava Mills and juniors Isabelle Brooks and Samantha Naylor. Lexi Ribbe, the squad's only other senior this season, along with juniors Kylie Duckett, Tessa Smith, Bella Getty, and two sophomores, Ella Besson and Alessa Anzelmo, will be on the competition floor on Friday morning.

High school students now receive two hours off to vote in Illinois elections

Effective June 1 this summer, Illinois high school students who are eligible to vote can take an excused absence from school to perform their civic duty.

The new law, signed by Governor JB Pritzker on Wednesday, allows students who are 18 years of age or older to leave school for up to two hours on the day of the election or 15 days prior to cast their ballot in a primary, general, special, or any election in Illinois at which propositions are submitted to a popular vote in the state.

Now, high school students who want to participate in the voting process no longer have to mail-in votes, request permission to leave close campuses, attempt to rush to their polling during a short lunch period or after school or miss a team practice if they are an athlete.

Given the effective date, students will not be able to take part in the upcoming primaries on March 17. However, they will be able to take full advantage of the new measure in November's general election.

"With this new law, our voting-eligible young people will have the freedom to fit voting into their school day without fear of repercussion for engaging in the very civic education we should all be proud to encourage," said Governor Pritzker in an statement after signing in the new law. "The young people who advocated for this legislation recognized how important it is not only to vote, but to make the act of voting as accessible for all who can vote as possible."

The legislation gives school administrators the option to enforce specific hours when voters may leave school grounds.

The measure passed 74-40 in the House and 40-10 in the Senate.

Taylor Wells leads Spartans past Sabers

After trailing by three points at the half, the St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team rallied back to notch another conference win at home. In a noteworthy second half defensive effort, the Spartans held St. Thomas More to just six points in the final two quarters of their Illini Prairie Conference shindig to win, 42-25.

Taylor Wells, who went 2-for-2 from the free throw line, led the SJO charge with 12 points. The sophomore starter was the only player to reach double digits and the only player to score more than four points in the last half of the contest on January 6.

Ashlyn Lannert came off the bench to finish the night with eight points. Payton Jacob rounded out the top three scorers for the Spartans contributing six points.

Meanwhile, freshman Kennedy Ramshaw led visiting St. Thomas More with six points. Teammates Tatum DeVriese and Sarah Gibas scored five points apiece in the Sabers' loss.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 7 9 19 17 - 42
St. Thomas More 4 15 2 4 - 25

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 8, Payton Jacob 6, Taylor Wells 12, Atleigh Hamilton 2, Katie Cramer 3, Abby Behrens 2, Taylor Barnes 4 and Ella Armstrong 5.

St. Thomas More: Sarah Gibas 5, Maddie Swisher 2, Bridget Delorenzo 2, Ava Dickerson 4, Tatum DeVriese 5, Alaina Bowie 1 and Kennedy Ramshaw 6.

Izard scores 21 in Williamsville game

Chance Izard led St. Joseph-Ogden to victory with a 21-point performance in his team 50-22 win over Williamsville on January 7. Izard also snagged a game-high six steals for the Spartans in the non-conference matchup.

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Payton Grimsley slides across the floor
Payton Grimsley slides across the floor after trying to scoop up a loose ball in SJO's home game against Williamsville. The senior was scoreless in the game but spearheaded a great defensive effort by the Spartans who held the Bullets to just ten points in the first half. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Ty Pence added another 15 points and five steals to the SJO effort. The Spartans' solo freshman player on the varsity squad this season was a threat both in the paint and from outside the arc.

When the game resumed after halftime, the two teams returned to the floor with SJO nursing a 12-point cushion on the scoreboard. Pence went on to tally an 11-point third quarter that helped pile on a huge 43-14 advantage over the Bullets.

Williamsville's Sam McCoy, also a freshman, led the Bullets in the scorebook with 10 points.

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Conner Hodge and Payton Cain fight for the ball
St. Joseph-Ogden seniors Conner Hodge and Payton Cain fight to keep the ball away from Williamsville's Brendon Bishop during first half action. Cain and Hodge combined for just six points in the SJO victory on January 7. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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Jordan Kelly
Senior Jordan Kelly brings the ball down the floor in the second half of the second home basketball game of the new year for the Spartans. So far in 2020, SJO has outscored opponents, 118-73. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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Head coach Kiel Duval keeps an analytical eye on his team late in the fourth quarter as his Spartans pick up their second win of the year and advance to a 10-4 record for the season. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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St. Joseph-Ogden's Conner Hodge
Despite Williamsville's 6-2 freshman Sam McCoy's attempt to block, Conner Hodge puts the ball back up strong after snagging a rebound during first quarter action. McCoy led the Bullets' scoring effort against the Spartans with ten points. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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SJO wins
With the bench players on the floor and the game well in hand, SJO seniors (left to right) Jordan Kelly, Payton Cain, Chance Izard, Payton Grimsley and Braydon Rupert flash winning smiles. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 8 14 21 7 - 50
Williamsville 6 4 4 8 - 22

St. Joseph-Ogden: Beyers 2, Cain 4, Coursey 1, Hodge 2, Hutcherson 3, Izard 21, Kelly 2 and Pence 15.

Williamsville: Hyson 4, McCoy 10, Riley 4, Smith 2 and Walbert 2.

Wells delivers buckets of points

Taylor Wells came off the bench Monday to lead all scorers in the St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team's second home game of the year. The sophomore led all scorers with 12 points to help SJO roll past St. Thomas More, 42-25.

After a dismal first quarter, the Sabers showed a brief spark of scoring brilliance, dropping 15 second quarter points building a modest lead three-point lead at the half, up 19-16.

The Spartans returned to the floor to match STM's first half scoring output under the leadership of Wells and her six points along with the combined efforts of four other SJO players in the third quarter.

Sabers' Maddie Swisher tapped a solo field goal in the same period making it all her team could muster against the 15-4 Spartans, who also picked up their second conference win of the season. Held to just six points in the second half, St. Thomas More dropped to 0-2 in the conference and 3-9 overall.

After Wells' contribution, St. Joseph-Ogden's top three scorers were sophomores Ashlyn Lannert with eight points, Payton Jacob with six and Ella Armstrong added another five to the mix. The Spartans received 33 of their scoring total from five of the six sophomores on this season's varsity roster.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 7 9 19 7 - 42
St. Thomas More 4 15 2 4 - 25

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 8, Payton Jacob 6, Taylor Wells 12, Atleigh Hamilton 2, Katie Cramer 3, Abby Behrens 2, Taylor Barnes 4 and Ella Armstrong 5.

St. Thomas More: Kennedy Ramshaw 6, Alaina Bowie 1, Tatum De Vries 5, Ava Dickerson 4, Bridget Delorenzo 2, Maddie Swisher 2 and Sarah Gibas 5.

65 freshman make SJO 2nd quarter Honor Roll

Sixty-five members of the freshman class at St. Joseph-Ogden High School earn honor roll recognition during the second quarter. Forty-one of them earned High Honor Roll status.

In all, a total of 252 students made this quarter's academic list which was led by the Class of 2020 with 71 students who earned a grade point average of 3.25 or higher on the school's 4.0 scale. Students whose GPA soared above 3.74 are recognized as High Honor Roll students.


High Honor Roll
Alyssa Acton, McGwire Atwood, Kaytlyn Baker, Olivia Baltzell, Maddux Carter, Yamilka Casanova, Ariana Chambers, Cale Coursey, Aiden Cromwell, Zachary Dahman, Emily Elsbernd, Leah Finley, Joselyn Frerichs, Kennedy Greer, Andrew Guelfi, Mikyla Haley, Maya Hewkin, Taylor Hug, Shayne Immke, Emily Jeffries, Cameran Kelley, Jacob Kern, Aaron Lane, Collin Livesay, Haleigh Maddock, Aidan McCorkle, Kyle Meccoli, Teagan Miller, Blake Morgan, Allegra Pearman, Ty Pence, Ellen Place, Jack Robertson, Kirsten Schaefer, Johanna Schmitz, Jack Setterdahl, Paige Siegmund, Trinity Tapia, Taylor Voorhees, Alayna Wagle and Maggie Ward.

Honor Roll
Morgan Cramer, Madison Adams, Canyon Alwes, Ethan Blackburn, Tyler Burch, Bryce Collins, Aleah Dial, Abigail Dow, Alex Funk, Hallie Harms, Jonas Hutcherson, Peyton Jones, Hunter Ketchum, Eleni Krall, Carter Mabry, Courtney Myren, Jacob Newman, Ava Northen, William Page, Emma Rydell, Isabel Sexton, Katharine Short, Mallory Wagner and Emma Ward.


High Honor Roll
Addison Allen, Tyler Altenbaumer, Kailyn Anderson, Ella Armstrong, Madison Atwood, Abigail Behrens, Ella Besson, Andrew Beyers, Brandie Bowlin, Mara Burkhalter, Kennedi Burnett, Angela Chahine, Braden Clampitt, Anastasia Conerty, Deanna Cummins, Benjamin Cunningham, Sidney Davis, Zander Dressen, Ashley Eldridge, Jared Emmert, Hannah Fox, Zella Fuqua, Brennan Haake, Liam Hamer, Lauren Harper, Payton Jacob, Alison Kearney, Olivia Klotz, Ava Knap, Ashlyn Lannert, Wyatt Loghry, Sophia McDade, Coby Miller, Conrad Miller, Elijah Mock, Jett Morris, Jessica Palmer, Emma Parkinson, Hope Rajlich, JoLeena Reynolds, Kendra Riddle, Taryn Sexton, Alyssa Shoviak, Luke Stegall, Rebecca Steinbach, Mackenzie Trame, Cole Weinmann and Taylor Wells.

Honor Roll
Nicolas Anzelmo, Alanna Bensyl, Mackenzie Fulk, Avian Gerdes, Alyssa Hamilton, Claire Huffman, Kailyn Ingram, Jacey Lewis, Kelsey Martlage, Ava Meyer, Ava Miller, Jackson Place, Griffin Roesch and Regan Uden.

Payton Vallee Coby Miller Logan Ingram

SJO Honor Roll Student-Athletes

Atleigh Hamilton Payton Jacobs Ty Pence


High Honor Roll
Isabelle Brooks, Crayton Burnett, David Bytnar, Taylor Campbell, Kylie Duckett, Hanna Eastin, Nadirah Edwards, Emily Fisher, Dakota Franzen, Emily Froman, Bella Getty, Atleigh Hamilton, Emmy Houston, Lukas Hutcherson, Logan Ingram, Vania Kaenzig, Cailer Kellenberger, Shelby Kofoot, Ethan Lane, Madigan Loman, Tyson Madsen, Sophia Martlage, Garren Meeker, Abigail Moberg, Samantha Naylor, Alec Painter, Erin Patton, Aidan Roberts, Indira Robinson, Mazie Ronk, Evan Schmitz, Max Shonkwiler, Tessa Smith, Payton Vallee, Nora Walden, Brayden Wendt and Logan Wolfersberger.

Honor Roll
Hunter Brooks, Rylee Clements, Raegan Crippen, Makayla Duckwitz, Jacob Dwyer, Britney Evans, Alex Frerichs, Mariska Harshbarger, Camden Hesterberg, Spencer Lahners, Aiden Livesay, Alyssa Maddock, Brandon Mattsey, Flannery McCorkle, Jackson Rydell, AJ Wagner and Mitchell Whitlock.


High Honor Roll
Lindsey Aden, Jenna Albrecht, Mallory Ames, Taylor Barnes, Katelyn Berry, Emily Bigger, Kaylee Blackburn, Ginny Bytnar, Payton Cain, Trevon Carr, Brendan Cooperider, Kristen Costa, Drew Coursey, Kathryn Cramer, Andrea Cunningham, Faith Dahman, Hannah Dukeman, Bode Gebbink, Payton Grimsley, Lucas Grindley, Erica Guelfi, Emily Hardimon, Chance Izard, Cody Johnston, Lacey Kaiser, Danielle Kelso, Nathan Maier, Ava Mills, Carson Mills, Allison Monk, Nolan Peacock, Taddy Pettit, Eric Poe, Hannah Rajlich, Jenna Schaefer, Joshua Sexton, Rylee Stahl, Kenly Taylor, Stephanie Trame, Anna Tranel, Isabelle Vliet, Brayden Weaver, Samuel Wesley, Zoey Witruk and Jackson Wooten.

Honor Roll
Joseph Acton, Michara Allen, Kendall Ayers, Kolton Batty, Ross Booker, Erin Bridgewater, Payton Clements, Bailey Dowling, Asjah Fonner, Clayton Frederick, Jaiden Freeman, Sam Gonzales, Brayden Grimsey, Ethan Hinrichs, Conner Hodge, Tyler Jones, Aubrey Kern, Eliza Lewis, Mason McLain, Alivia Norem, Dyllan Price, Luke Renfrew, Lexi Ribbe, Joshua Vice, Anna Wentzloff and Karsyn Wetzel.

SJO alumni earn over 30 spots on fall Dean's List

Over 600 students at Parkland College were recognized on the institution's fall 2019 Dean's List this week. Thirty-one of them, students who listed their hometown as Ogden, Royal or St. Joseph, were included on last semester list.

Mickaela Fleming runs the course at the 2011 Kickapoo Kickoff Klassic cross country meet on August 30. Fleming was named to the Parkland College Dean's List for her academic performance this past fall. Fleming, also a pitcher on the Spartan regional champion softball team last spring, finished 48th in the girls' race at 26:47.0 to help St. Joseph-Ogden win the meet's team title. PhotoNews file photo.

Students from Ogden who earned honor roll status in the fall semester include John Acklin, Zach David, Adam Frerichs, Caleb Johnson, Devon Miezio and Katelyn Smith.

Mickaela Fleming, who was standout high school pitcher for the SJO softball team, was the solo Royal student named to the fall semester list.

In addition to the seven alumni from Ogden and Royal, 24 St. Joseph residents also were recognized on the Dean's List. The former Spartans include: Melanie Broch, Abigail Burnett, Julie Burnett, Rebecca Campbell, Erin Christians, Elena Cotter, Avery Edwards, Tenneal Frerichs, Justyn Fruhling, Dylan Heck, Gabriell Jones, Kaitlyn Landis, Caroline Moore, Allison Morenz, Brendan Olauson, Kristen Polizzi, Megan Schumacher, Nora Slater, Kaitlyn Taylor, Keisha Taylor, Mitchell Thompsen, Hannah Watson, Sarah Wiseman and Nicole Woller.

Students must earn a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 grade scale to earn Dean's List recognition at Parkland College. Those who take fewer than 12 credit hours during the semester can make the Dean's List by achieving a 3.5 cumulative GPA for 12 or more hours in the academic year.

St. Joseph announces 2020 meeting schedule

The St. Joseph Village Board has released their biweekly meeting schedule for 2020. The first meeting of the year is scheduled for next Wednesday, January 14.

Meetings are held at the St. Joseph Municipal Building located at 207 East Lincoln Street and start 7pm. Residents are welcome to attend.

Minutes from past village board meetings are available online here. Upcoming agendas are available here online.

January 14, 2020 Regular Meeting
January 28, 2020 Regular/Study Session Meetings
February 11, 2020 Regular Meeting
February 25, 2020 Regular/Study Session Meetings
March 10, 2020 Regular Meeting
March 24, 2020 Regular/Study Session Meetings
May 12, 2020 Regular Meeting
May 26, 2020 Regular/Study Session Meetings
June 9, 2020 Regular Meeting
June 30, 2020 Regular/Study Session Meetings
July 14, 2020 Regular Meeting
July 18, 2020 Regular/Study Session Meetings
August 11, 2020 Regular Meeting
August 25, 2020 Regular/Study Session Meetings
September 8, 2020 Regular Meeting
September 22, 2020 Regular/Study Session Meetings
October 13, 2020 Regular Meeting
October 27, 2020 Regular/Study Session Meetings
November 10, 2020 Regular Meeting
November 24, 2020 Regular/Study Session Meetings
December 8, 2020 Regular Meeting
December 22, 2020 Regular/Study Session Meetings

SJO hosts Christie Clinic Shootout on Saturday

St. Joseph-Ogden High School will host 13 varsity and junior varsity basketball teams on Saturday for this year's Christie Clinic Shootout.

The all-day basketball bonanza at the high school tips off at 11am with Crete-Monee squaring off against Mahomet-Seymour and concludes with the final contest between Farmington and host St. Joseph-Ogden at 8pm.

Varsity games will be played in the main gym while the JV installments will take place in the school's practice gym across the hall.

Admission fee for spectators is just $5 for the entire day. For fans who want to follow other games and teams at this year's event, all seven games will be broadcasted on the air live via WPXN 104.9 FM.

Here are the teams and approximate varsity start times:

11:00 AM: Crete-Monee vs. Mahomet-Seymour
12:30 PM: Kankakee vs. Danville
  2:00 PM: Rich Central vs. Champaign Central
  3:30 PM: Cissna Park vs. Monticello
  5:00 PM: Pleasant Plains vs. Notre Dame La Salette
  6:30 PM: Maine South vs. Normal Community
  8:00 PM: Farmington vs. St. Joseph-Ogden

Jacob leads SJO in IVC rout

Payton Jacob and Katie Cramer teamed up to score 24 points, enough to have beat Illinois Valley Central on their own in the St. Joseph-Ogden girls first home game of 2020.

Jacob, a sophomore, led all scorers with a game-high 14-point performance. Cramer finished with 10 points.

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Ella Armstrong scoops up a loose ball against IVC
After a quick dive, Ella Armstrong scoops up the ball in SJO's home game against Illinois Valley Central. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

"We tried to make sure we stayed calm and not focus on their record," said Jacob about their Illini Prairie Conference foe. The Grey Ghost had only one win on the books heading into their bout against SJO. "If you just looked at their record it would have been easy to go out and assume we had the win."

Not wanting to take IVC lightly, the Spartans concentrated on their execution to dominate nearly every facet of the game.

"We made sure we were focus on our game and not on the way they were playing," said Jacob.

Taylor Wells came off the bench yet again this season for yet another solid output on both sides of the court. In addition to the sophomore's eight points, she battled under the rim snagging four defensive boards and a pair of offensive ones for a total of six.

Payton Vallee led the team in rebounds with 11 on the day.

Even with a 29-10 first half advantage fueled by Jacob's 11 points, the Spartans kept their foot on the gas adding another 18 points in the third quarter before coasting to the final buzzer.

Remarkably, IVC sent the Spartans to the free throw line just once in the 32-minute affair with Jacob capitalizing on both shots in the third-quarter.

"She's been really working on her shot and some other things," said head coach Kevin Taylor about Jacob. "Today, it paid off. It's nice to see was rewarded for the extra work she has been putting in."

In typical fashion this season, the rout was built on a balanced scoring effort. Abby Behrens and Ashlyn Lannert distributed five assists apiece allowing 10 different players to put points on the scoreboard.

"We're excited to get conference play going and wanted to start the right way," said Taylor after leading SJO to their 14th win of the season. "Overall it was a good effort by the girls to start conference."

Next up, Jaoob and Cramer face St. Thomas More at home on Monday. Varsity tip-off is slated for 7pm.

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Abby Behrens dribbles the ball against IVC
Abby Behrens dribbles the ball down the court with pressure from Illinois Valley Central's Lilly Madl. Behrens was held to just one field goal in the victory and was credited with five assists. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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Anna Wentzloff
Anna Wentzloff makes a pass during second half action against the Grey Ghost. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

"I've been off kind of lately. It is kind of nice to be back in the rhythm of things."
~ Senior Katie Cramer

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Payton Jacob keeps the ball away from Grey Ghosts' Marley Williamson. Jacob scored 11 of her game-high 14 points in the first quarter. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

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Ella Armstrong goes up for a shot against IVC
Ella Armstrong takes a shot over IVC's Aynna Johnson. Armstrong, who finished with six points, was one of 10 SJO players that put points on the scoreboard on Saturday. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Box Score
Team 1 17 12 18 8 - 55
Illinois Valley Central 6 4 8 1 - 19

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 4, Payton Jacob 14, Taylor Wells 8, Atleigh Hamilton 2, Katie Cramer 10, Abby Behrens 2, Taylor Barnes 3, Payton Vallee 2, Ella Armstrong 6 and Anna Wentzloff 4.

Illinois Valley Central: Johnson 2, Williamson 5, Madl 1, Wolf 5 and Palmer 6.

Ladies basketball team get conference win

Anna Wentzloff scores 4 for Spartans
After snagging an defensive rebound, Spartan Anna Wentzloff looks for an open teammate to pass the ball during the her team's first home game in 2020. The senior finished with four points in St. Joseph-Ogden's 55-19 drubbing over visting Illinois Valley Central today. St. Joseph-Ogden, who finished 5th at this year's State Farm Holiday Classic basketball tournament, moves forward with their 14-4 record to face St. Thomas More in Illini Prairie Conference action at home on Monday. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Basketball team starts new year with a victory

The St. Joseph-Ogden basketball team picked the program's first win of the new year after beating Cissna Park, 68-51. Improving to 9-4 on the season, four Spartan players delivered double-digit scoring in what was also the team's first home basketball game of 2020.

Chance Izard finished the non-conference game with a game-high 18 points. The senior made seven of his 15 field goal attempts and was 1-for-2 from the free throw line.

Despite a cold streak from beyond the arc, frosh Ty Pence made five of his six shots inside the half circle adding another 13 points the St. Joseph-Ogden cause.

The Paytons, Grimsley and Cain, each piled on another 12 points a piece. The pair also led the Spartans in rebounding with five each.

The Timberwolves also had four players finish with double figures. Penn Stoller led Cissna Park squad with 15 points and 5 boards.

SJO plays at home again this Tuesday at 7pm when they will face the Wiliamsville Bullets who are 5-6 overall and 0-2 in their conference.

Viewpoint | What was she thinking?

Dear Editor,

What was Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton thinking when she purchased recreational marijuana in Chicago on the first day of its legal sales in Illinois? Does she not understand that as a public official she is setting a reckless and foolish example, especially for children and teens?

Illinois policy makers are sending a dangerous message to our young people. First, we called it "medicinal". Now, we call it "recreational". Gone are the days of "this is your brain on drugs". Instead, elected officials like Stratton are celebrating drug use by welcoming the marijuana industry to communities throughout the state.

Their feckless example will mislead citizens into a diminished understanding of the dangers of drug use until it affects them personally. As the perception of risk plummets, drug use (and addictions) will climb.

Not only have lawmakers failed to do their due diligence before passing this marijuana law, but they have also failed to heed the compelling research that indicates how regular use of marijuana affects young people, including an increased risk of psychiatric illnesses and loss of IQ points.

Parents, grandparents, teachers, and religious leaders would do well to counter Stratton’s irresponsible example by returning to the sensible message, "just say no to drugs".

David E. Smith, Executive Director
Illinois Family Institute

There is nothing like the Siberian Express

There is nothing like it.

That's how Deb Studniarz describes the annual Siberian Express Trail Run held at Kickapoo State Park for almost four decades. The 7.45 mile trail race, the first on this side of Illinois every calendar year, will run this Saturday at its usual location.

The 36th installment is scheduled to start at 11 am.

Last year, just over 300 runners turned out to race thanks unseasonably warm weather.

"You never know what Illinois weather will be like," said Studniarz, who is also this year's race director. "Last year we had record turnout because the weather was exceptional. The year before was record cold."

Corey Plotner, who finished 19th at last year's race, has run the Siberian Express in nearly every form of manic January weather that Mother Nature has offered.

"The challenging part is the weather. I have run it in shorts, and I have run it in 6 plus inches of snow," Plotner said. "You never know what you are going to get until you get out on the course."

Plotner, one of 11 Sentinel area runners, clocked in last January at 55:07.5.

"It’s a challenge to run trail and a greater challenge in the winter," Studniarz said referencing the years the race was ran despite knee high snow or sub-zero temperatures. "You never know what Illinois weather will be like."

Since 2012 Plotner has only missed running the annual race twice. In his opinion, having a solid game plan is key to running a good race.

"The real fun is when the course is sloppy though. It really makes for some interesting turns and strategy really comes into play then," he said. "This makes the experience so much fun because you go and run the course in the chilly temps and snow and slush, then you get to go back in the fall and run it faster on the dry course.

Another area resident and veteran runner, Mike Tankersley is intimately familiar with both the demands of the course and unpredictable race-day weather.

This course is tough when it is warm and dry," he said. Last year, the St. Joseph resident finished 29th overall with a time of 57:21.4 seconds. "When it is cold and snowing it is very challenging But, a huge accomplishment just to finish!"

Tankersley's fondest Siberian Express memory is finishing the race two years ago in 1 degree temperatures without any signs of frostbite.

Other area runners competing in last year's race included three women; Kati Seeley, Melissa Swanson and Johanna Mayer. Seeley finished the course in one hour, eight minutes and 27 seconds for 13th place in her division and 94th overall. Swanson clocked in 183th and Mayer persevered to cross the finish line after 2:03:17.4 elapsed from the time she started.

Plotner and Tankersley were not the only men from St. Joseph who competed in 2019. Cory Swanson, Bryan Johnson, John North, Scott Hendren, Levi Marriott and Jonathan Mayer all finished the 2019 running of the Siberian Express.

Haven't signed up for this year's race yet?

Race day registration opens at 9:30am. Runners signing up at the last minute should head to the Kickapoo Park Maintenance Garage.

The top 175 finishers will receive what the official race website calls a "Super Cool" medal. Participation awards will be distributed to runners finishing under the two hour mark.

For what it is worth, Saturday's forecast calls for cloudy conditions and the high hovering around 32ยบ.