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Cross-Country: Jack Fisher lead SJO's sectional cross country effort

by Daniel L. Chamness
      Special to The Sentinel


CHAMPAIGN --The St. Joseph-Ogden boys' cross country team destiny to compete at this year's Illinois High School Association Class 1A State Finals was confirmed at the sectional meet. Hosted by SJO on October 29 at Dodds Park in Champaign, the Spartans dashed to a fourth-place finish in what was arguably the toughest Class 1A Sectional in the state.

SJO finished with 164 points behind Decatur St. Teresa, who finished with 77 points.

While every cross-country athlete would like to make the state finals, it is highly-unlikely the current Spartan program will miss any in the forseeable future. Three juniors, two sophomores, one freshman, and one senior made up the SJO's top seven runners on the roster.

"We have been running in competitive meets all season to get to this point," said Jason Retz, SJO's head coach. "It will be great for them to have the state experience."

The team was led by sophomore Jack Fisher, who crossed 26th after he toured the three-mile course in 16 minutes, 29.38 seconds. Freshman Lance Retz finished immediately behind Fisher 28th in 16 minutes and 29.98 seconds.

The other Spartan athletes that finished within a second of each other were sophomore Mason Guido (17:02.61) and senior Ethan Blackburn (17:02.88). They were 50th and 51st, respectively.

Two juniors served as the third and fourth runners. Carson Maroon and Aden Armstrong took 37th and 41st, respectively. Maroon ran the three-mile course in 16:45.99, while Armstrong finished in 16:52.05.

The Spartans have competed in every state final except for two in 2012 and 2018. There was no state championship in 2020. In the seven times they advanced as a team, they were in the top 10 six times. They earned a team trophy in 2015, taking third in the state.

"We want to take advantage of every opportunity we are given," said Retz. "I want to see them show up and compete. We are excited to be here, but the athletes need to have a sense of urgency and purpose."

The Tolono Unity boys finished 10th in the sectional, scoring 260 points. Like their arch-rivals at SJO, the had a very young lineup, with only one senior. Four freshmen ran in the varsity race. One sophomore and one junior were also in the lineup.

Eli Crowe, one of the freshmen, took 25th in the SJO Class 1A Sectional. He finished the race at 16:28.91. The rest of the scoring top five were within a minute of each other. Camden Fairbanks took 44th in 16:53.75. On his heels was the lone senior on the team, Brendan Graven, who finished in 17:00.32, good for 47th place.

Isaac Ruggieri (85th) and Alex Mowrer (91st) rounded out the top five. Ruggieri crossed the finish line at 17:39.59, while Mowrer finished at 17:52.0.

Two freshmen served as the sixth and seventh runners. Carter Tiemann (93rd, 17:57.59) and Collin Graven (155th, 20:44.56), respectively.

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