January 30, 2023 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

SJO boys’ track and field looks to build upon past success

Jason Retz is no stranger to success when it comes to St.Joseph-Ogden High School athletics.


The sixth-year coach of the Spartans’ boys’ track and field program oversaw SJO win sectional titles in 2014 and 2016. He’s also coached both cross-country programs at SJO since 2014, helping the Spartans win five state trophies in that span, including Class 1A girls’ cross-country state championships in 2014 and 2016.


So if the Spartans can add hardware to a program that has achieved 10 top-10 state finishes in their history, including state titles in 1993 and 2000, then Retz is all for it this spring.


“It would be the culmination of all our groups, from sprinters, distance and field, working together and performing at their best all on one day,” Retz said. “There is nothing better than team success. Having done it many times, I can tell you it’s a lot of fun.”


SJO gets to start working towards that ultimate goal of postseason success at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday when the Spartans host Danville, Monticello, Rantoul and Urbana in a five-team meet. It’s one of two home meets that SJO will have this regular season, along with the annual Spartan Classic on April 26.

SJO will travel to Rantoul twice, first on April 6 for the Rantoul Invitational and then again on April 9 for a quadrangular meet with the host Eagles, Champaign Central and Clinton. The Monticello Invitational (April 12), Unity Invitational (April 19), the Illini Prairie Conference Meet (April 30) at Bloomington Central Catholic, the Clinton Carnival (May 3) and the Bulldog Invitational at Mahomet-Seymour (May 11). This is all a buildup to the 1A sectional that SJO will host on May 17, with spots at the state meet on May 23 at O’Brien Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois University at stake.

“We are very lucky in central Illinois to see some of the best competition in the state and race against larger schools than ourselves such and Monticello and Unity on a regular basis,” Retz said. “Being one of the smallest schools in the conference, it is fun to compete against such great competition. We’ll look forward to competing for the conference championship at BCC later in the season.”


SJO returns one individual state qualifier from the 2018 season and five other individuals who were part of state-qualifying relays last spring.
Seniors Lane Gaskin and Kaleb Harshbarger return, along with sophomore Brady Buss. Those three all were a part of the 1,600-meter relay team that finished eighth at last year’s state meet.


Seniors Joel Branson and Dwight Colvin also give the Spartans talented options in the sprints after the duo, along with Buss, were on last year’s state-qualifying 400 relay.


“We are excited about what our sprint crew is bringing to us this year,” Retz said. “We should have many that contribute to our sprint relays, and we may have as many as nine or 10 individuals fighting to fill our sprint relays.”


Sophomore Hayden Knott should help anchor the throws after he qualified for state in the discuss as a freshman, while Nolan Peacock should provide SJO a lift in the pole vault.


Seniors Nathan Emmert, Isiah McCune, Aiden Meyer, Hanson Reiches and Keanen Swanson give the Spartans a solid group of returning contributors, while juniors Brayden Grimsey and Eric Poe, along with sophomores Brandon Mattsey and Aaron Wagner-Dillman, can add experienced depth.


It has all the makings of what could be a team that sends several state qualifiers to Charleston in late May and leaves its own mark on this tradition-rich program’s history.


“I believe in the moment coaches, athletes, fans and parents don’t understand how good they have it until it’s over,” Retz said. “As coaches we set very high expectations, and I’m not sure there can be any higher expectation put on our athletes. They have one opportunity to get the most out of this sport they can Their opportunity to leave their stamp on this program is what they will be working for. If they continue to work hard, they will have that opportunity before they walk off the track for the last time.”

Banner
Related Posts

Grimsley, Kelly play key roles as SJO boys’ basketball runs win streak to five

February 4, 2020

February 4, 2020

Almost halfway through the slate of Illini Prairie Conference games, the St. Joseph-Ogden High School boys’ basketball team has yet...

How sweet it is: Armstrong helps propel SJO girls basketball to sectional title game

February 25, 2022

February 25, 2022

Ella Armstrong has had high-scoring games this season. Games where the 5-foot-9 senior guard for the St. Joseph-Ogden High School...

Weaver, Miller help SJO football stay unbeaten

September 10, 2019

September 10, 2019

A close game in the fourth quarter ended the way the St. Joseph-Ogden High School football team wanted last Friday...

Behrens, Vallee help Spartans continue strong start

February 11, 2021

February 11, 2021

So far, so good for the St. Joseph-Ogden girls’ basketball team. The Spartans made the short drive to Champaign on...

10 things you don’t know about me… Shawn Skinner

October 1, 2021

October 1, 2021

1. What is your favorite food? Italian food  2. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas 3. What is your favorite...

Johnson exploring college choices

May 3, 2019

May 3, 2019

Caleb Johnson has options. The St. Joseph-Ogden senior committed to play baseball for William Penn University in January but the...

SJO graduate Crowe thriving at Parkland as Cobras vie for national championship

April 23, 2021

April 23, 2021

Peyton Crowe knows a thing or two about championships. Crowe was a part of the 2018-19 St. Joseph-Ogden girls’ basketball...

Knott, sprint relay shine at GCMS Invitational

April 24, 2019

April 24, 2019

The St. Joseph-Ogden High School boys’ track and field team went two weeks in between competitions. Blame Mother Nature for...

Get to know SJO volleyball player Taylyn Lockhart

October 31, 2022

October 31, 2022

What do you think makes the team so successful? Our work ethic and how well we are able to play...

SJO girls’ tennis picks up second win

August 31, 2021

August 31, 2021

The St. Joseph-Ogden High School girls’ tennis team will aim for its third straight win when the Spartans play at...

SJO Board to discuss basketball at November meeting

November 4, 2020

November 4, 2020

Basketball isn’t a sure thing at St. Joseph-Ogden High School this winter. The district will have to decide whether to...

Spartans ready to ‘respond better’ in playoff opener at Williamsville

October 28, 2019

October 28, 2019

Jaden Miller is glad he gets another opportunity to play football. Ditto for Blake Dable. And the other St. Joseph-Ogden...

Balancing it all: SJO volleyball keeps on rolling with regional championship

November 1, 2019

November 1, 2019

Balance has carried the St. Joseph-Ogden High School volleyball team all season. Whether it’s receiving timely kills from players like...

Ingram shines, but SJO football still seeking first win

September 17, 2021

September 17, 2021

Six wins are needed to automatically qualify a high school football team into the playoffs in Illinois. For St. Joseph-Ogden...

Panthers softball advanced to regional final

September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020

After a strong 3-1 start to the 2020 middle school softball season, the St. Joseph Panthers ended the season with...

Comments
Leave a Reply