Spartans & Rockets first-round opponents are named for this year's state football playoffs

St. Joseph-Ogden's Ray Gutierrez is double teamed while trying to fight his way into the Bloomington Central Catholic backfield during their game on September 29. The Spartans and the Saints each earned a spot into this season IHSA football playoffs.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

URBANA - The pairings are set for this year's IHSA state football playoffs. The Illini Prairie Conference will be well-represented in this year's playoffs. Six of the nine-member schools earned a slot for a chance to play in a state title game at Hancock Stadium in Normal on November 24-25, returning to ISU for the first time since 1998.

St. Joseph-Ogden (7-2) earned a #6 seed in the bottom half of the bracket. The Spartans will host Carlinville. The two school gridiron programs last met on November 7, 2015, when the undefeated Spartans prevailed 42-7 and were subsequently beaten by Unity at Hicks Field in the infamous Blizzard Bowl semifinal game.

The Cavaliers and Spartans are scheduled to play at Dick Duval Field at 2pm this Saturday.

Unity (7-2) will travel to Williamsville for a playoff rematch with the Bullets. This will be the third consecutive playoff clash between the two programs. The Rockets look to avenge their 12-7 semifinal loss on the road to last year's Class 3A state runner-up. In the fall of 2021, Unity eliminated WHS from the playoffs via a 28-7 quarterfinal victory.

Other IPC teams earning playoff spots include Bloomington Central Catholic (2A, 9-0), Prairie Central (3A, 5-4), Monticello (3A, 5-4), and Paxton-Buckley-Loda (3A, 5-4).


*** Editor's note: This story was updated after initial publishing with the date and time of St. Joseph-Ogden's first round contest.


Guest Commentary | The world is facing the highest number of violent conflicts since WWII

by Sangita Bora
Guest Commentator


In the chronicles of human history, one unsettling truth remains unchanged: the world continues to be trapped in a vicious cycle of conflicts, disease, and disasters. Each one driving the other in a grim dance of misery where humanity is relentlessly caught in the events of self-inflicted suffering. Despite the scars of battles that run deep, we still lead ourselves in a world ravaged by conflicts, big and small, in almost every corner of the globe.


The world continues to witness heart-wrenching scenes from war-torn zones...

Earlier this year, in the 9250TH Meeting of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, briefed that “Six out of seven people worldwide are plagued by feelings of insecurity, the world is facing the highest number of violent conflicts since the Second World War and 2 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live in places affected by such conflict.” A harrowing truth derived out of years of conflicts, fueled by greed, arrogance, and division along lines of race, religion, and ethnicity.

The world continues to witness heart-wrenching scenes from war-torn zones demonstrating how conflicts disrupt societies, displace populations, and leave behind the ruins of once-thriving communities. Meitei vs. Kuki-Zo conflict in Manipur, Russia vs. Ukraine, and Israel vs. Palestine, all show nothing but exemplify this destructive pattern. These conflicts across zones are creating fertile ground for the spread of disease, as healthcare systems crumble, sanitation deteriorates, and access to clean water becomes scarce.

While we have now let our guard down against COVID-19 pandemic which cost millions of lives, let's not rule out the possibility of another deadly pandemic breaching into our lives again. Because, "This will not be the last pandemic, nor the last global health emergency" said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization in a press release from October 1, 2020.

Amidst all eyes and talks currently on the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, a stance observed in all other past crisis. The question we should be asking is, are we fated to react only after a situation has descended into complete chaos? Have we conveniently ignored the proverb - "Prevention is better than cure"? Sadly, yes and we have already laid the foundation for our extinction.


A world at war cannot hope to control the deteriorating state of the environment.

As humanity aspires for greatness while standing on a fragile foundation, another existential threat quietly looms: the environmental catastrophe. Many detrimental human acts add to it, and military operations during conflicts are one of them, leaving a profound ecological impact that extends beyond the mere emissions of greenhouse gases. The destruction wrought by warfare is multifaceted: from soil and water contamination, air pollution, toxic waste, nuclear hazards to ultimately contributing to climate change. In times of war, nature often becomes an unintended casualty, suffering grievous wounds that echo long after the guns fall silent.

A world at war cannot hope to control the deteriorating state of the environment. As nations grapple with disputes, territorial ambitions, and ideological conflicts, the health of our planet at large continues to deteriorate. "The era of global warming has ended, the era of global boiling has arrived", declared UN Chief António Guterres on 27 July. On September 14, 2023, NASA announced that Summer 2023 was the hottest on record. Record breaking climatic events have become the 'New Normal' for us. Question is until when? Doom looms upon us, ever nearer, as the day approaches when our survival will be at stake.

Breaking the world's persistent cycle of conflicts and crisis lies in a holistic approach where world leaders don't just talk the talk but walk the walk. This approach involves strengthening diplomacy and cooperation, conflict prevention and sustainable development to mitigate poverty and inequality. We are well behind schedule in realizing that our existence as a species hangs in the balance, dependent on the choices that we make today – choices that will either safeguard our world and humanity's legacy or jeopardize our very survival.


Sangita Bora, the nomadic wordsmith, hailing from the scenic landscapes of Assam whose quest for knowledge and opportunity keeps her on a perpetual journey, city to city, experience to experience. Currently in Delhi, thriving as a Senior Associate Technology at Publicis Groupe, where she combines her innovative spirit with her technical expertise. A passionate thinker and an aspiring writer, Sangita weaves her experiences and insights into thought-provoking narratives that resonate with readers from all walks of life.

Guest Commentary | Israel has no choice but to defend themselves

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator


Prayers for the devastated people in the Middle East.

Prayers for the families who have had loved ones murdered before their very eyes.

Prayers for the families who have loved ones held as hostages. We pray for their safety and release.

Prayers that hate filled terrorists may be overcome. Why do we have such evil on this planet? Why is there so much hate tied to a religion? Why is religion used to carry out barbaric acts of murder and violence? Because evil is an unrelenting force. Evil can make anything bad. The goal of any religion should be connecting people to God and bringing about meaningful lives filled with love, peace and a higher purpose.

The goal of cancer is to destroy and kill. Evil is a cancer that is progressive and terminal unless it is totally eliminated. Any cancer in your body is not good for you. No one can live peacefully with cancer. Cancer finds a way to grow, disable and kill. We cannot coexist with cancer nor can we coexist with mentalities who live to brutally kill others. The goal of hate filled groups such as Hamas is to eliminate Jewish people and then anyone connected to the United States and the Western world.

You can’t coexist with rattlesnakes and copperheads. They are poisonous.

Israel has no choice but to defend themselves and put an end to Hamas. Do we have to be in the middle of this mess? We have been since World War II. Israel has been the number one benefactor of American foreign aid. We are the Santa Claus of the world when it comes to giving away your money. America’s foreign aid contribution reached $66 billion in 2022. This was the first time we had given this much to other nations since 1949. While that amount was staggering, our foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel will make that amount look like a paltry sum.

We have already given Ukraine over $75 billion in their fight against Russia. Now, President Biden is proposing to give Ukraine and Israel $105 billion in aid. Also, America’s border security has been mentioned in this proposal. Probably the only reason our border security is tied to this proposal is because voting Americans are desperate for border security. The manufacturers of war weapons and their investors, such as many politicians, will have a nice Christmas.

Since World War II America has given Israel $260 billion. Jordan, Egypt and some other countries receive a lot of our money.

Countries That Received the Most Foreign Aid from the U.S. in 2021: (Stats from US News and World Report)

1 Israel ($3.3B)
2 Jordan ($1.6B)
3 Afghanistan ($1.4B)
4 Ethiopia ($1.39B)
5 Egypt ($1.29B)
6 Yemen ($1.04B)
7 South Sudan ($954M)
8 Congo (Kinshasa) ($825M)
9 Somalia ($790M)
10 Syria ($782M)

Try to keep working if you can. Somebody has to pay for all of this.


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He is the author of 13 books including UncommSense, the Spiritual Chocolate series, Grandpa's Store, Minister's Guidebook insights from a fellow minister. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to editor@oursentinel.com.

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Roesch tallies 8 kills in Spartans' home win over PBL

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
ST. JOSEPH - The St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team extended its late season win streak to six games on Tuesday after knocking off Paxton-Buckley -Loda at home, 25-22, 25-11.

Addie Roesch piled up eight kills and hammered three aces for the Spartans, who haven't lost a match since October 7. Peyton Williams contributed one ace along side her four kills and four digs. Roesch also booked four digs in the Illini Prairie Conference regular season match.

Halle Brazelton dole out 15 assists and added a pair of digs to her season stats.

The Spartans (27-4 overall, 7-2 IPC) start their postseason as the #1 seed in the Class 2A Watseka regional. Enjoying a first-round bye, Roesch and Williams will lead the SJO against the winner of Monday night's match between Iroquois West and Hoopeston Area on Tuesday at 6pm.


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Williams leads SJO over Fisher with 12 kills, Roesch collects seven aces
The St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team posted their 25th win of the season after defeating Fisher at home for Senior Night in straight sets, 2-0. The non-conference victory improves head coach Abby McDonald's 2023 season record to an impressive 25-4.

St. Joseph-Ogden pulls off gutsy come-from-behind win over Oakwood
St. Joseph-Ogden's Peyton Williams and Reese Wheatley celebrate a point during set 1 of the Spartans home match against Oakwood. Down by as many as eight points, ...
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Guest Commentary | We must pray Israel roots out and eliminates Hamas

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator


What would happen if several thousand members of ISIS or a group similar to Hamas invaded our Southern border? What if a group of 5,000 terrorists with semi-automatic weapons stormed our border? What would it look like? It might look like the Southern border of Israel – horrific.

We were totally caught off guard on September 11, 2001. That was a horrific day for America and the world. The terrorist group who attacked us brought about much death and suffering for our nation. Israel, totally caught off guard, will forever be scarred by the recent surprise attack led by Hamas that resulted in the horrific slaughter of families.

We must wake up in America. We do not have a secure border. Hundreds of thousands are coming every month into our nation. How many of these people are members of ISIS? How many of them are members of hate-filled terrorist groups? Their only mission is do whatever it takes to bring about mass casualties and to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible.

They have proven to us that they will bide their time. They are patient. Hamas reportedly has been planning this attack on Israel for two years. How many people are already in the United States who are waiting for a command from someone to go into action?

We must fortify our border and stop the siege of our nation. We must secure our border and allow only an orderly, legal entrance into our nation.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Hamas, ISIS. We have seen what ISIS is all about. They want to cut people’s heads off and broadcast it on social media and world-wide television. They want to mutilate women and children and burn people alive. We must be committed in America to doing whatever it takes to keep our freedom. There is a satanic mentality in the world that is like a slithering poisonous serpent waiting to strike our country just as Hamas has struck Israel.

Any form of religious expression that binds or enslaves people is evil. There is nothing good about any religion that oppresses people. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32. The true heart of God is love and freedom in Christ. It does not seek to bring about enslavement, torture or pain. This is the work of Satan.

There are innocent civilians in Gaza. Let’s hope that they find a way to escape. Let us pray that as few lives as possible are killed in this Israel, Gaza war. By the time you read this there may not be much of Gaza left as Israel will not play patty cake with Hamas. We pray for the innocent to escape and the hostages to survive and be freed. We must surely also pray for the success of Israel to root out and eliminate Hamas. The only cure for such evil is for it to be eliminated.


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He is the author of 13 books including UncommSense, the Spiritual Chocolate series, Grandpa's Store, Minister's Guidebook insights from a fellow minister. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to editor@oursentinel.com.

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Photo of the Day | Big trouble in little St. Joe

SJO's Drew Coursey
Linebacker Drew Coursey fights his way into the Pontiac backfield during St. Joseph-Ogden's home game on September 27, 2019. Coursey made two tackles, one for a loss, and credited with one assist in SJO's 19-0 win. The senior also recovered one fumble in conference game on Friday. Improving to 4-1, the Spartans could only muster just one more regular season victory, finishing the regular season 5-4 and drawing Williamsville for first-round playoff opponenty. The undefeated Bullets rolled to 54-26 win over SJO on their way to the Class 3A state title.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

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St. Joseph-Ogden senior Hayden Lewis goes wild for the camera after his team's upset victory over the heavily favored Unity Rockets at Hicks Field.

Williams leads SJO over Fisher with 12 kills, Roesch collects seven aces
The St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball team posted their 25th win ...

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Beating Rantoul 2-0, seniors pace Rockets in volleyball victory


Unity's Reagan Little
Unity's Reagan Little passes the ball to the front row during her team's road game at St. Joseph-Ogden. On Monday, Little chalked up 12 kills against the Rantoul Eagles during the Rockets' Senior Night contest.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

TOLONO - Unity extended its current win streak to three matches after defeating visiting Rantoul on Tuesday in straight sets, 2-0.

Seniors Reagan Little and Ruby Tarr shined on Senior Night in the Illini Prairie Conference matchup that ended the first set 29-27 and securing the win with a 25-21 advantage.

Little blasted the Eagles with 12 kills and pounded three aces from the backline. Tarr distributed 13 assists and notched a pair of kills. The duo tallied nine digs and two more, respectively.

Hoping to post their 16th win this season and level out their season record at .500, the varsity volleyball team will play their final regular season match on the road at Olympia tonight.

Unity opens their postseason play at the Rocket Center, hosting Warrensburg-Latham, Meridian, and three IPC teams, all seeded higher than the #9 Rockets. Monticello (21-11, 5-3), St. Thomas More (21-12, 4-4), and conference champions Bloomington Central Catholic (25-7, 8-0) are all in the hunt for the Tolono regional title. The winner of the regional title advances to the St. Joseph-Ogden sectional semifinal on Monday, October 30.

The five seniors honored at Tuesday night's home match included Little, Tarr, McKayla Schendel, Jocelyn LeFaivre, and Piper Steele.


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Tigers tennis duos set to face first-round opponents today

Members of the Urbana High School tennis will be competing at the IHSA Girls Tennis State Finals today at Buffalo Grove and other surrounding high school sites. Doubles pair Lorilei Yau, Eisla Madigan, head coach Parker Sands, assistant coach Jeff Unger, and the doubles team of Luna Morales and Alisa Tangmunarunkit will represent the Tigers at the season finale event.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

BUFFALO GROVE - There's nothing like competing against the best athletes in the state. Urbana's #1 and #2 doubles pairs will put their training and mental stamina put to the test when they take the court in Day 1 competition at the Illinois High School Association's Girls Tennis State Final.

Tigers Alisa Tangmunarunkit and Luna Morales play their opening match against Sycamore's Jetta Weaver and Madyson Block at Schaumburg High School. Tangmunarunkit and Morales won the Danville championship title on Monday and later celebrated their Senior Night before spending Tuesday and Wednesday preparing for today's match.

Meanwhile, teammates Lorelie Yau and Eisla Madigan, also seniors, will begin their tournament play at Schaumburg High School, three and half miles away. Yau and Madigan, who finished fourth in the sectionals, will face Benet Academy duo Shane Delaney and Clare Lopatka.

After making her first tournament appearance last fall unseeded, University High's Kruthi Ramanath hard work and offseason work delivered dividends by way of a #3-4 seed into this year's Class 1A singles bracket. The sophomore will face Sacred Heart-Griffin senior Mary Kate Christie.

In her freshman-year foray into the IHSA tennis postseason, Ramanath won her first match over Illinois Math and Science Academy's Josie Kim, 6-0, 6-2. Advancing to the next round, she played admirably but ultimately eliminated from the bracket after a 6-3, 6-4 loss to then senior Savannah Web from Richmond-Burton.

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State qualified: Urbana and Uni-High tennis players advance to state tennis tournament
Due to rain on Saturday and the lack of indoor court availability, the fate of two Urbana's doubles pairs was settled at Danville High School tennis sectional on Monday. While both qualified for state after serving their way into the semifinal round, all that was left was determing the third-place winners and this year's sectional champions.

Urbana tennis team ready to face all challengers this fall
"We are striving to be the most-improved team from day one until the end of the season," said Tigers' head coach Parker Sands on Tuesday during the team's second day of practice. Rain on Monday forced his first practice indoors to kick off his fifth season at the helm of the program. "We have already started practicing and giving our ..."

Acosta hits hat trick in regional semifinal soccer match, SJO wins 9-0

St. Joseph-Ogden's Alex Acosta is congratulated by teammate Waylon Jones after scoring a goal against Unity on September 19. Acosta scored three goals on Saturday during the Spartans' regional semifinal soccer match against Clifton Central.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

ST. ANNE - They were literally unstoppable in putting the ball between the posts. The St. Joseph-Ogden soccer team rolled over Clifton Central in their IHSA regional semifinal match on Saturday, 9-0.

Junior Alex Acosta finished the postseason contest with a spectacular three goals. Spencer Wilson, a senior, connected twice, and the Spartans got two scores from junior Logan Mills. Freshman Tyler Hess rounded out the SJO scoring effort with two goals in the shutout.

Acosta and fellow junior Will Besson were each credited with one assist each.Wilson and sophomore Zach Harper setup two scores apiece with solid passes.

Thanks to a incredible defensive effort in the backfield, keeper Jaxson Colvin notched three save to hold Comets scoreless for 80 minutes.

The Spartans improved to 16-7 with the win, and advanced to tonight's St. Anne regional championship game against another Comet team, this one from nearby Oakwood. An anticipated rematch, SJO hopes to avenge their earlier 5-1 loss three weeks ago in September to the OHS squad.


Rockets fall to the Illineks regional semifinal

Nolan Remole, a junior, kicks the ball downfield during Unity's Illini Prairie Conference road game at St. Joseph-Ogden. The Rockets' soccer season came to an end after falling 7-0 to #2 seed Urbana U-High in the Monticello regional on Friday. The Rockets, who won their IHSA first-round playoff game 2-1 over Judah Christian, finished the season with eight wins against nine losses and one tie. The path to a regional title was difficult for this year's team, with six of the ten schools in their subsectional listed as private schools or academies.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

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Tarr leads Unity in acing Urbana, 2-0
Reagan Little and Piper Steele combined efforts to produce seven kills in Unity's home volleyball match against Urbana on Monday. The Rockets won the contest in straight sets...

Tarr leads Unity in acing Urbana, 2-0

TOLONO - Reagan Little and Piper Steele combined efforts to produce seven kills in Unity's home volleyball match against Urbana on Monday. The Rockets won the contest in straight sets 25-21, 25-21.


Unity's McKayla Schendel passes the ball to the front line during the Rockets' home match against Central High School in August. UHS moved to a 15-16-1 record after their non-conference match against the Urbana Tigers.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Steele delivered three kills and three digs. Little, who led the team at the net and in the backcourt was credited with four kills and 10 digs.

Junior Lauren Shaw pounded two aces against the visiting Tigers and distributed eight passes. Meanwhile, senior Ruby Tarr slammed three aces and had six assists. Shaw chalked up six digs and Tarr added another six in the non-conference victory.

The Rockets improved to 15-16-1 and host Rantoul (13-19) tonight in their final regular season home match before facing Olympia on the road on Thursday.

The team will be back in action at the Rocket Center next Monday at 6pm in their postseason debut against #7 seed Warrensburg-Latham (22-10).


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Schlittler leads Rockets in home win over Indians
Bouncing back from a two-match slide, the Unity volleyball team defeated Pontiac...

Unity suffers heartbreaking loss at home to visiting Central Maroons
The Rockets won the first set 25-19 and then dropped the next two, 25-14, 25-19, to the Maroons Tuesday evening at the Rocket Center.

State qualified: Urbana and Uni-High tennis players advance to state tennis tournament

DANVILLE - Due to rain on Saturday and the lack of indoor court availability, the fate of two Urbana's doubles pairs was settled at Danville High School tennis sectional on Monday. While both qualified for state after serving their way into the semifinal round, all that was left was determing the third-place winners and this year's sectional champions.

Tigers' Alisa Tangmunarunkit and Luna Morales, both sectional qualifiers from the previous season, decisively settled who were the best double pair in the title match with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Mahomet-Seymour seniors Savannah Amatyleon and Emily Young, who also advanced to the state tournament this weekend in Hoffman Estates.

"I am so excited. I didn't think this would have happened," said Morales. "I am really excited to go!"


Luna Morales plays in Urbana's home tennis match against Centennial in August. Morales and three other players from this year's tennis squad will compete at the IHSA state tournament this weekend.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

She and Tangmunarunkit were the #1 seeds in the Class 1A sectional. The pair won all four of their matches in straight sets.

Morales said their semifinal match against the #4 seeds Adella Bird and Holland Martin, from Mahomet-Seymour, was the most stressful.

"Honestly, that was our most nerve-racking match. We really wanted the sectional championship," Morales explained. Winning that match was step one in the plan to achieve that goal, but it wasn't easy mentally. "We were really in our heads."

She said the great thing about her and Tangmunarunkit playing together is they can adjust mentally and prevail when the numbers on the scoreboard are not in their favor.

"Even if we start losing, we are like, 'We want this'. We are able to get into the mindset soon enough to save it (the match) before it is too late."

Also representing the Tigers at state will be Eisla Madigan and Lorelie Yau. The duo lost to Amatyleon/Young in their semifinal, 6-0, 6-4, advancing to the third-place match, where they faced another set of Bulldog players.

After a nailbiting first set that finished 7-6, Madigan and Yau, the third seeds in the tournament, fell 6-0 in the second set, taking fourth place.

"All of my girls who played at sectionals played amazing," said Urbana head coach Parker Sands. "Everybody knew what was on the line, and everybody wanted to get to state. I think there was a little bit of nerves at first, but all the players settled down and played their game."

With the season a week from being over, Sands, who took over the program in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, notched three memorable coaching milestones this season.

"It feels absolutely amazing," he said, describing his program's accomplishment at sectionals and the first milestone. "This is my first foray taking girls to state, so I'm really excited about that."

His second milestone? This year is the most entries he will accompany to the state tournament in any season since taking over the head coaching position for both the girls and boys program. Sands has had either a singles player or a doubles pair qualify for state with the boys program, but never more than a single entry.

It will also be his first season coaching four-year players like Tangmunarunkit and Madigan who came into the program his first season.

"It's my first graduating class that I've gotten to see all four years, which is very special," said Sands, who also teaches at Urbana Middle School. "I have known some of these girls since they were in sixth grade. Knowing a person for seven years and getting to see them develop into people who are going to change the world is really exciting."

Uni's Ramanath advances to state in singles

University High's top player, Kruthi Ramanath went 4-0 in her run to the sectional singles title. The #1 seed, Ramanath defeated Danville's Anna Houpt with ease in the title match, 6-3, 6-1.

The sophomore dropped three sets in her first three matches combined. Ramanath rolled over Paris' Ava Barrett in their second-round match, 6-0, 6-0. She went on to double bagel Mahomet-Seymour's Emmie Flores in their quarter-final bout.

Before taking the court against Houpt, Ramanath was tested by Danville's Reese Rundle. She defeated the Vikings #3 seed, 6-2, 6-1.

All five players will start their state title runs on Thursday at the IHSA Girls Tennis State Finals in Buffalo Grove High School.



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