May 20, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Spartan Boys Win Two Meets; Including Conference Title


By Dan Chamness

No one can stand up to what the St. Joseph-Ogden Spartan boys cross country team has been doing. 


At least not in the 11-team Illini Prairie Conference. To put it in perspective, forty percent of the all-conference awards given to the male runners went home with the Spartans. They award the top 10 athletes all-conference awards. En route to posting a team score of 36 points, the Spartan top four finished fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth. Stanford-Olympia, who hosted the IPC Meet on their high school campus, took second. They scored 68 points. Monticello took third with 79 points. No other team broke 100 points. Only third place Monticello had more than one all conference athlete. 


“I was pretty confident we had the ability to win the team title,” said Stegall, one of three Spartan seniors in the scoring five for SJO. “We had a solid race plan and that plan was just to run to the front. We are really helped by the fact that we are able to run so close together. I am excited for the end of the year and looking forward to running at the state championships. We are running one more time at Detwiller before the regionals. It will give us all a chance to see where we are time wise.”


Carson Maroon (fourth), Luke Stegall (fifth) and Charlie Mabry (sixth) were less than two seconds apart as they finished in a row. Maroon finished in 16 minutes, 35.8 seconds, while Stegall finished in 16:36.4. Mabry was exactly one second behind Stegall taking sixth in 16:37.4. 

“Sometimes it is not about a personal best and being the fastest,” said Maroon. “If slowing down a bit and helping your teammates will get you where you need to be, then that is the best option. Each race you learn something new. Luke, Charlie and I were together for the entire race. It helped me a great deal because I knew if I fell off the pace, it would be less likely for us to win. It felt like we were at practice running and that kept me motivated to keep cruising with Luke and Charlie.”


Less than 20 seconds after Maroon had crossed then finish line, their fourth and fifth scoring runners had crossed the finish line. Peyton Wendell was earned all-IPC status by running a 16:41.4 to take ninth. Elijah Mock, took 12th in 16:56.1. He was only two spots from all-conference status and less than 13 seconds. Monticello freshman Caleb Wood grabbed the final all-conference spot with a 16:43.5 running of the course. 


Ethan Blackburn (16th) and Holden Jones (50th) served as the Spartan’s sixth and seventh runners, commonly referred to as “pushers” in the cross country world. Blackburn finished in 17:16.5, while Jones crossed in 19:14.5. 
“The boys were supposed to find that leading chase pack as a group,” said Jason Retz, St. Joseph-Ogden’s head coach. “In the second half, we wanted to take care of business. I believe our men did a great job of executing that plan. As a coach, I was less concerned about winning and more focused on executing the race plan. Doing that would put us in a position to be successful, ultimately. Winning was just the byproduct of taking care of those details.”


On Saturday, the Spartans traveled to Detwiller Park for the Peoria Heights-hosted Patriot Cross Country Invitational. Their pack time from one to five was less than one minute and the top five averaged 16:17 en route to yet another win. The Spartans scored 80 points to win the 39-team meet. Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond took second with 101 points. 


“We move forward together as a team,” said Retz. “If one of us moves forward, we all move forward.”
The Spartans were without the services of Maroon on Saturday, but it did not stop Mabry and Stegall from finishing in the top 10. Mabry finished the three-mile race in 15:55.4, while Stegall finished in 15:56.0. Wendell finished in 16:14.1, which was good for 16th and Mock finished 22nd in 16:36.2. Blackburn took 28th in 16:48.2. 
Sophomore Aiden Armstr0ng was the sixth and final runner, finishing in 17:05.2.  


As of press time, the Spartans held the top ranking in Class 1A Cross Country according to Tony Jones and the experts at MileSplit. 

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