October 28, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Team effort sparks SJO cross-country to third-place finishes at Spartan Classic

While the St. Joseph-Ogden High School cross-country teams spend this week preparing for the upcoming Illini Prairie Conference Meet, both boys’ and girls’ programs can find comfort after a strong effort at the 48th annual Spartan Classic held last Saturday.

Racing through the streets of St. Joseph and finishing up at the track at SJO, the Spartans boys’ and girls’ teams both finished third in the team standings.

In the 26-team boys’ race, Uni High won with 81 points, while Monticello (90), SJO (132), El Paso-Gridley (138) and Deer Creek-Mackinaw (153) rounded out the top five schools.

Junior Brandon Mattsey paced the SJO boys’ team with an eighth-place finish in 15 minutes, 41.28 seconds to lead the pack of Spartans. SJO’s balance played a role in its third-place finish, with the other four runners all finishing in the top 50 among the field of 187 runners. Senior Eric Poe (16:21.31) came in 23rd, while sophomore Charlie Mabry (16:38.50) placed 28th and sophomore Elijah Mock (16:41.49) was right behind Mabry with a 29th-place finish.

Sophomore Luke Stegall rounded out the top five runners for SJO with a time of 17:02.19, good enough for 47th place.

On the girls’ side, SJO put its top five runners in the first 33 places, helping the Spartans compile 106 points in their third-place finish. Unity won the title in the 20-tea field with 48 points, while Monticello (63), SJO (106), Uni High (134) and Seeger (Ind.) (149) were the top five schools.

Senior Jillian Plotner garnered the Spartans’ best finish by clocking in at 18:29.34, good enough for seventh place. Fellow senior Hannah Rajlich was the next SJO runner to cross the finish line, checking in at 19:03.56 in 17th place. Three sophomores in Ava Knapp, Ashlyn Lannert and Kailyn Ingram were next to finish for SJO, with Knapp placing 26th (19:34.22), Lannert finishing 29th (19:38.85) and Ingram winding up 33rd (19:45.34) in a field of 147 runners.

SJO will now turn its attention to the Illini Prairie Meet, set for 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 8 in Fairbury. It’s one of three meets left in the regular season for the Spartans, who will also race at the Prairie Central Invitational (10 a.m., Oct. 12) and the Patriot Invitational at Peoria Heights (1 p.m., Oct. 19) before the postseason arrives.

Both SJO programs are slated to run in the Tuscola Regional on Oct. 26 at Wimple Park in Tuscola, with the girls’ race at 10 a.m. and the boys’ race at 10:45 a.m.

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