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Knapp, Redskins’ girls ready for track season opener

Morris junior high jumper Haleigh Knapp was a bit under the weather last weekend. Normally that may not make headlines, but for the Class 2A defending state champion in the high jump, it may explain what took place down at the Illinois Top Times Indoor Championships.

Previous to last weekend, Knapp felt she was in good shape to compete  this despite having only performed in three indoor meets in the previous three months.

“I was feeling pretty good at the indoor (NIB12-)Conference Meet,” she said. “I jumped 5-6 there, which is just one inch below my PR. I felt good, though I was a little nervous with it being the first meet and all.”

It was the first “official” high school competition for Knapp, though she had participated in one meet in December and one in January for her club team Jump High.

Morris finished seventh at the NIB12 Indoor Meet despite having just 12 girls competing. 

After the NIB12 Meet in Sterling, and sometime before the Top Times Championships, which were held at Illinois Wesleyan University, Knapp fell under the weather.

“I think it was either a bad cold or allergies,” she said.

Despite that, Knapp did manage to clear 5-3, which was good for fourth place. Still, she was disappointed with the way things transpired.

“Yeah I was disappointed because I know I can do better,” she said.

So, was the fact that she was under the weather a factor?

“I’m sure it was a big reason,” she said. “It was that and nerves.”

Knapp is one of 22 girls on the team this year. Lori Dite is back as the head coach and she is again assisted by John Courter.

Knapp said that several of the girls on the team were active during the indoor season over the past couple of weeks.

“Leona Burton got fifth in the long jump and was third in the 60 dash,” Knapp said. “That’s pretty good considering that she hasn’t been outside and practiced with spikes on yet. Becca McKee also did really well in the triple jump.”

This is one of the best turnouts for Morris girls track in a long time and that is due to several reasons.

“We have some new people out, juniors and seniors, but there are a lot of freshmen out this year, too,” Knapp said. “This group of freshmen did really well in middle school and I think they enjoyed it. In middle school, track is really fun but it’s also competitive.”

One of those freshmen is Isabella Garcia.

“She has been high jumping in middle school and I’m looking forward to helping her out,” Knapp said.

The Redskins have named three captains this year in Nancy Soto, Airrha Alcanar and Jena Runchey. The locals open the season on Thursday in Ottawa.

“Myself, I’d love to win State in back to back years. I  know that won’t be easy, but it’s what I’m aiming for,” Knapp said. “I’d also like to possibly break the 2A record (5-9 1/2).

“As far as the team goes, I’d like to see everyone improve throughout the year and I think we can do well at the outdoor conference meet. It was also be nice to get more out of the sectional.”

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