October 7, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Winning Cow Chip Classic an early-season highlight for SJO boys’ cross-country

A team win at one of the area’s most well-known races.
Testing themselves against some of the tougher teams in the state.
These are just some of the early-season exploits by the St. Joseph-Ogden High School boys’ cross-country team through the first two weeks of the season.
The Spartans have competed in four meets so far, with plans to get back in action at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday in a dual meet with Monticello at Lodge Park in Monticello.
Here’s a roundup of what has transpired on the course so far for the Spartans:

Spartans race up in first meet at Detweiller
Competing at Detweiller Park in Peoria the first Saturday in November is every high school cross-country runner’s goal since Detweiller Park is the long-standing site of the IHSA state meet.
SJO got its first look at the course this past Saturday, and the Spartans, who compete in the Class 1A in the postseason, opted to run against 3A schools at the First to the Finish Invitational. SJO compiled a team score of 890 to place 32nd out of 37 teams. Plainfield South won the 3A portion of the meet with 48 points.
Sophomore Jack Fisher had the top time for SJO, completing the course in 16 minutes, 54.3 seconds to finish 141st in the field. Camyn Viger of Plainfield South placed first in 14:22.8.
Junior Aiden Armstrong was the next SJO runner to finish, doing so in 17:18.0 to place 181st. Freshman Lance Retz was right by Armstrong at the end, checking in at 17:18.6 to place 182nd. Sophomore Joe Griebat (18:12.5, 246th) and sophomore Mason Guido (18:29.1, 256th) also factored into the Spartans’ team score.

Fisher places first at SJO Quad
No team scores were kept during a four-team meet featuring SJO, Oakwood/Salt Fork, Hoopeston Area and Armstrong-Potomac at Kickapoo State Park in Danville on Sept. 6, but the Spartans had the top two runners on the day.
Fisher and Retz both clocked in at 20:07 on the day for SJO, but Fisher took first place.
Armstrong (21:19, seventh), senior Ethan Blackburn (21:19, eighth) and Guido (21:21, ninth) also had top-10 finishes for SJO.

Spartans win Cow Chip Classic
Bolstered by five runners finishing among the top 30, SJO won the 11-team Cow Chip Classic in Chrisman on Sept. 3.
SJO finished with 59 points, 10 ahead of runner-up Monticello. Effingham St. Anthony (112), Unity (140), Heritage (154), Marshall (171), Uni High (175), Robinson (177), Cerro Gordo/Bement (181), Prairie Central (256) and Villa Grove (266) also competed.
Retz posted the top time for the Spartans, placing second in 16:48.1. Only Iroquois West senior Bryson Grant had a better time, winning the race in 16:03.6.
Fisher placed eighth in 17:21.2, while Blackburn was 12th in 17:28.4. Armstrong (17:44.3, 17th) and fellow junior Holden Jones (18:32.0, 30th) also contributed to SJO’s first-place efforts.

Retz fares well in first race
The Spartans placed seventh out of seven teams at the EIU Showdown held at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville on Aug. 27.
SJO was the only Class 1A school in the field, with the Spartans finishing with 168 points. The other six schools that ran were 3A schools, with Downers Grove North winning the meet with 24 points. Neuqua Valley (53), Plainfield North (95), Bolingbrook (117), Highland Park (118) and Jacobs (141) rounded out the field.
Retz had the top time for SJO, finishing 30th in 16:36.63. Other Spartans to factor into the team score were Blackburn (16:55.78, 37th), Armstrong (16:56.72, 38th), junior Carson Maroon (17:16.38, 43rd) and Fisher (17:26.40, 48th).

What’s next
After Tuesday’s meet at Monticello, SJO is set to return again to Detweiller Park in Peoria for the Peoria Notre Dame Invitational that begins at 9 a.m. this Saturday.

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