SJ-O boys' track and field team wins sectional crown.
In boys’ track and field
■ At Tolono. Freshman MATT KNIPFER won the pole vault, COLE JOHNSON took the 400 meters and St. Joseph-Ogden’s 1,600 relay team finished first to lead the Spartans to the team championship at Unity. The Spartans were second in the 800 and 3,200 relays and got runner-up finishes from ERIC RYDELL in the high jump and triple jump.
“I’m happy with how we competed,” SJ-O coach NICK HAAB said. “We had points coming in from all over. It was a great team effort.”
The Spartans qualified in nine events for next weekend’s Class 1A state meet.
“We have our eyes set on state,” Haab said. “These guys are hungry and want to go out with a bang. They have some lofty goals. I think we can do some damage at state and get a trophy.”
Second-place Unity was led by MICAH JOHNSON, who won the 100 and 200, and AARON LUESSE, who won the 110 hurdles and was second in the 300 hurdles.
ALEC DUTTON won the discus and shot put for third-place Salt Fork, which won the 400 and 800 relays.
St. Thomas More’s NICK HESS won the 1,600 and 3,200 and ran a leg on the winning 3,200 relay, as did SAM POWERS, who won the 800. The Sabers placed fourth.
Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman finished fifth behind winning efforts by freshman TYLER OWEN (high jump) and sophomore KEENEN BUTLER (long jump).
■ At Centennial. ANDREW RONEY won the pole vault to lead Mahomet-Seymour to second place at the Class 2A sectional in Champaign. ROBERT WOLF (pole vault), MATT CHUPP (400), JONATHAN SCHAAP (3,200), ZANIEL ZILEWICZ (110 hurdles, high jump) and the Bulldogs’ 1,600 relay team will join Roney at state.
Centennial’s LUKE VAUGHN won the shot put and discus in dominating fashion. Champaign Central’s DEVIN HOOD qualified for state in the shot put, as did Monticello’s ADAM AUTEN in the discus. Rantoul’s CORD CHURCH was third in the 300 hurdles to move on.
■ At Shelbyville. Villa Grove’s RYAN PEARCE won the shot put and discus at the Class 1A sectional, helping the Blue Devils to an eighth-place finish. Tuscola was sixth behind ERIC PONDER’s win in the 3,200 and a first-place showing by its 800 relay team.
Third-place Arcola was paced by CLAYTON STRADER’s second-place effort in the 300 hurdles and runner-up finishes in the 800 and 1,600 relays. QUINTON RISLEY also qualified for state by placing third in the discus.
Arthur-Lovington’s JORDAN FEAGIN was second in the long jump.
■ At Plano. Prairie Central’s DAKOTA CABBAGE (first in pole vault), IAN BRISCOE (second in the high jump) and ZACH FIENHOLD (fourth in discus) qualified for Class 2A state.
■ At Homewood-Flossmoor. Danville’s Johnny Leverenz ran the fourth-fastest 800-meter time in area history (1:54.46) while qualifying for state with a school-record time. The Vikings’ mark was set in 1966 (1:55.3) by Barney Hance and tied in 1987 by Mike Butler. In Thursday’s late Class 3A meet, Danville’s Caleb Hummer won the 3,200 meters (9:31.50).
In boys’ tennis
■ At Danville. Danville’s TYLER ELLIS went 2-0 to reach today’s semifinals at the sectional tournament, in the process wrapping up a trip to state. Ellis will meet Centennial’s SUNNY SINGH today.
Also qualifying for state by advancing to today’s semifinals: second-seeded AUSTIN ATEN of Champaign Central and TRAVIS TRESSLER.
In doubles, Central’s MICHAEL YOO and GABE MITCHELL, Uni High’s ALEX MESTRE and EDO ROTH and Centennial’s ANDREW SCAGGS and PETER KIM reached the semifinals and qualified for state.
In girls’ soccer
Class 1A Sectional
■ Peoria Notre Dame 3, St. Thomas More 0. The deepest run in school history ended against a playoff-tested opponent.
The Sabers were shut out in the sectional title match at Bloomington Central Catholic, Quincy Notre Dame taking advantage of a rash of Sabers injuries.
“They were as good as advertised,” St. Thomas More coach JAMES JOHNSON said.
It was an emotional day for the Sabers, who lost senior GEN HARRINGTON to an ankle injury midway through the match. Harrington had qualified on St. Thomas More’s 3,200-meter relay team that will run in today’s Class 1A track and field finals in Charleston. The injury will prevent her from running, Johnson said.
“Her going down and not getting up, I knew it was bad,” Johnson said. “It was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had.”
The Sabers entered the match without senior ASHLEY NUSSEL, who was injured in Wednesday’s section semifinal win against Peoria Christian. After Friday’s match, the team bus stopped at the Nussels’ house so players and coaches could cheer up their idle teammate.
“As bad as today was, tonight was one of the better feelings,” Johnson said. “Even (Gen) hobbled in with her crutches.”
The Sabers finished 14-6-1, giving the Raiders (18-1-2) a test despite the circumstances. LEXI WALLEN had “the best performance by a high school goalie I’ve ever seen,” said Johnson, who also singled out JADE BRINKOETTER and LOUISETTE LUKUSA for helping keep the match close.
Johnson also credited his seniors for helping turn the program into a state contender: Brinkoetter, Nussel, Harrington, Ellie McGrew, HONOR HOFFMAN, HADLEY MURRAY and MAGGIE McLAREN.
“Simply put, this season was special,” Johnson said.
■ Crete-Monee 4, Danville 0. CHASE THURSTON had the Vikings’ only hit in the nonconference loss.