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Knapp, Applebee raise the bar in girls track local lore

Adrianne Leschewski.

She's the answer to most every area high school girls track trivia question that can be asked.

On Saturday, the 2000 Morris Community High School graduate's name came up again — twice — in relation to Haleigh Knapp and Alyssa Applebee winning state events. Knapp is a sophomore at Morris, and she won the high jump in Class 2A on Saturday. Seneca's Applebee won the pole vault and finished third in the 100 low hurdles.

Knapp became the first member of the Redskins track program to finish first in an event since Leschewski in 2000 (discus and shot put). Applebee claimed her seventh and eighth medals at the event, surpassing the area-high six by Leschewski.

Knapp won the high jump by clearing 5-7, and Applebee vaulted 11-9.

"It feels pretty cool, knowing that there's a lot of other students who have gone to school here and nobody else has accomplished it," Applebee said in response to her accumulating eight medals for the Irish track team.

Tona Congo medaled four times in the 800 meter run at Seneca between 1993 and 1996.

Raising the bar

On Saturday, Knapp and Applebee couldn't have faced more polar opposite situations. Knapp went first to clear the high jump bar and Applebee last to try and get a clean release and land in the vault pit.

Knapp essentially ran the table, but had to watch and wait to see if she won. On the other hand, Applebee's day came down to her final contested vault with everything on the line.

"I was the first to jump at every height," Knapp said. "There were four of us and I cleared it and the others didn't. When the last girl missed, I asked the official if I had won and he said yes."

While Knapp went on to miss at 5-8, the perfect jumping day to the title was a rare feat for her.

""That was the only one I missed (at 5-8); otherwise, I was clean all the way through. I have done that little meets before, but in the bigger meets — definitely not," she said. "That's the first time in a big meet that I've done that."

Applebee won state in 2011 by clearing 12-0, so she had confidence coming into the meet. However, she needed every last try to best the field this time around.

"I knew coming in that I could do it. It came down to the last jump at 11-9 and if I didn't make it, I would have finished second," she said. "I was pretty nervous until I saw that I was over the crossbar and it didn't fall. I knew I had it then. I would have liked to have gone a lot higher — it's just how my jumping day went. I still got the job done."

Put it on the board

Both Knapp and Applebee said they reacted pretty similarly after clinching the championship on Saturday.

"The first thing I did was run over to my club coach (Bob Servanka)," Knapp said. "He was really happy. He was yelling and waving his hands up and down."

"I think I hugged my coach (Kim Sedlock) and then kept calm because I had to go to the next height after that," Applebee said.

Coaches react

Morris coach John Courter was down at the state event in place of head coach Lori Dite, who had undergone an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday.

"She had a great day of jumping," he said. "She showed great confidence on Saturday and was very relaxed."

Dite said she couldn't be happier with the results.

"This season Haleigh was humble and focused on perfecting her craft," she said. "I am so proud of the fine young lady and the athlete she has become. I am very excited for the next two years to see if she can be a three-time state champion."

Seneca's Sedlock said that one of the coolest things about Saturday was something that almost went unmentioned.

"The IHSA chose Alyssa to read the competitor's oath Saturday morning before the start of events," Sedlock said. "Being chosen for that just shows how great a person, athlete and competitor Alyssa is. She trained hard to accomplish her goals for this season."

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