December 6, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Knapp helping lead the way for SJO girls’ cross-country

Heading into the annual Spartan Classic that St. Joseph-Ogden hosts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, the SJO girls’ cross-country team has to feel pretty good about its chances to have a successful race.


That’s because the Spartans are fresh off a runner-up finish at the 12-team St. Teresa Invitational, held this past Saturday at Hickory Point Golf Course in Forsyth.


SJO compiled 23 points, only topped by 14 points from meet winner Mt. Zion.


Ava Knapp put up SJO’s top time at the meet, finishing in sixth place in 19 minutes, 47.9 seconds. Helene Jones (14th, 20:45.1) and Chloe Burkhalter (18th, 21:00.0) both added top-20 finishes, while Malorie Sarnecki (21st, 21:10.9) and Addie Allen (25th, 21:35.6) rounded out SJO’s top five runners.
The showing this past Saturday came after a dual meet with Monticello at Lodge Park on Sept. 15. The host Sages won that meet, taking the top eight spots and compiling 15 points compared to 66 for the Spartans.


Burkhalter had the best finish for SJO by taking ninth in 22:02. Hanna Eastin (12th, 22:23), Jones (14th, 22:55), Knapp (15th, 22:55) and Lauren Lannert (16th, 22:59) posted the next best times.


Prior to that, SJO finished fourth at the 10-team Paxton-Buckley-Loda Invitational on Sept. 12 with a score of 107. Monticello won the event with 24 points, followed by Unity (45) and St. Thomas More (104).


Knapp finished 16th in 20:58.09 for SJO’s best time, with a contingent of Spartans coming in about a minute after Knapp. Jones (22nd, 21:44.37), Taryn Sexton (23rd, 21:49.15), Sarnecki (24th, 21:51.64) and Burkhalter (26th, 22:00.59) all contributed to SJO’s top-four finish.


Before the meet in Paxton, SJO breezed to a win during a triangular meet they hosted on Sept. 8 at Community Park in St. Joseph that lasted 1.5 miles. SJO compiled a score of 18 points, followed by Tuscola (57) and Oakwood (61).


Sarnecki placed first to pace the Spartans with a time of 9:47. Knapp was close on Sarnecki’s heels, placing second in 9:48. Jones (10:00, fourth), Sexton (10:03, fifth) and Ashlynn Lannert (10:04, sixth) all posted solid times to aid the Spartans in their win.


Prior to the triangular win, the Spartans finished fifth out of 11 teams at the Charleston Invitational on Sept. 5. SJO accumulated 142 points, with Mahomet-Seymour winning the event with 62 points. Sandwched in between M-S’s top finish and SJO’s fifth-place finish were Shelbyville (75), Mt. Zion (85) and Charleston (126).


Knapp posted SJO’s top time in Charleston, placing 10th in 20:38.70. Sarnecki added a 30th-place finish in 21:46.07, while Sexton (31st, 21:47.36), Jones (33rd, 22:14.64) and Burkhalter (38th, 22:26.95) also chipped in for SJO.

PHOTO BY Carrie Mattsey Photography

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