Consistent running is key for any cross-country team. Not having one runner separate themselves too far from their teammates or having too many teammates fall behind the top runner can produce steady results.
The St. Joseph-Ogden girls’ cross-country team had its top five runners all finish within 45 seconds of one another at this past Saturday’s Sages Invitational, helping the Spartans place third out of seven teams at Lodge Park in Monticello. SJO racked up 92 points, behind champion Monticello (31) and runner-up Mahomet-Seymour (86), but ahead of St. Thomas More (105), Olympia (108), Uni High (118) and Paxton-Buckley-Loda (141) in the team chase.
In a competitive field that featured several teams the Spartans will compete against this upcoming Saturday during the Class 1A St. Teresa Regional at Hickory Point Golf Club in Forsyth, Ava Knap posted the top time for SJO with a 13th-place finish in 20 minutes, 7.45 seconds.
Helene Jones wasn’t far behind Knap, placing 15th in 20:17.31, while Chloe Burkhalter gave SJO three runners in the top 20 by placing 17th in 20:40.22. Malorie Sarnecki (20:51.57, 23rd place) and Ashlyn Lannert (20:52.43, 24th place) also chipped in for the Spartans’ team score.
Prior to this past Saturday, SJO placed fifth out of seven teams with 136 points at the Illini Prairie Conference Meet held Oct. 10 at Community Park in St. Joseph.
Monticello won the league meet with 29 points, followed by Unity (45), Olympia (90) and St. Thomas More (122) in the top four. Bloomington Central Catholic (141) and Chillicothe IVC (151) rounded out the team scores, with Rantoul, Prairie Central and Pontiac not fielding full teams of runners.
Knap placed 20th for the best finish by SJO at the Illini Prairie Meet, clocking in at 20:19.21. Jones (20:28.93, 22nd place), Burkhalter (20:58.85, 29th place), Sarnecki (21:03.39, 31st place) and Kailyn Ingram (21:11.77, 34th place) also factored into SJO’s team total.
Before the Illini Prairie Meet, SJO finished third in a quadrangular it hosted at Community Park on Oct. 3, trailing meet champion Mt. Zion (25) and runner-up Shelbyville (48). St. Teresa (108) placed fourth.
Knap paced SJO with a fourth-place finish in 19:50, while Jones (20:16, ninth place) and Burkhalter (20:17, 10th place) also wound up in the top 10. Ingram (20:17, 11th place) and Addie Allen (20:48, 17th place) rounded out the rest of SJO’s scoring runners.
At the Spartan Classic held on Sept. 26 in St. Joseph, SJO was fourth at the four-team meet with 117 points. Monticello won the event with 22 points, followed by Unity (35) and Mahomet-Seymour (77).
Jones had the best time for SJO in 20:46 to place 23rd, followed by Burkhalter (20:50, 24th place), Sarnecki (20:50.1, 25th place), Lannert (21:19, 29th place) and Allen (21:28, 32nd place).
If SJO wants to run beyond this Saturday, the Spartans will need to finish among the top five teams at the 13-team St. Teresa Regional in Forsyth. The top five teams from the regional will race again on Oct. 31 at Hickory Point Golf Club as part of the St. Teresa Sectional.