Knapp breaks school’s high jump record

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

After breaking the high jump record at the Indiana Relays last weekend, sophomore Haleigh Knapp now has the 10th highest jump in women’s NCAA Division 1.

Knapp set the school record to begin the season at the EIU Early Bird Meet, then broke her own school record again with her jump of 5’11.25” over the weekend at the Indiana Relays.

She discussed what it was like leading up to her record-setting leap.

“Whenever I get to a height like that I kind of try to clear my thoughts because usually at that point you just start overthinking a lot of things,” she said. “You just kind of need to rely on your muscle memory and relax and jump.”

Knapp’s previous record was a jump of 5’10.50”. This was a big step up from her freshman season as her season-best mark was 5’7”. The offseason and preseason helped her achieve the new record.

“During preseason we do a lot of sprint workouts,” she said. “I try to modify some of them so I don’t hurt my shins, which includes a lot of biking. I lift a lot heavier than I did last year so I think I got a lot stronger this year so that helped.”

In the process of setting the record, the sophomore knew she was going to clear the bar once she left the ground.

“For me it’s pretty easy to tell if I hit it down or not,” she said. “Once I hit the mat I knew I had broken the record.”

Setting the record to start her second year of track and field at Eastern and then breaking that same record a few months later was something Knapp could only dream of coming into the collegiate level, she said.

“Nothing compares to when it actually happens,” she said. “The first meet I originally broke the record and this past meet at Indiana I broke my own record. Never in a million years had I expected my sophomore season to go like that.”

High jump is the only event that she competes in. In the indoor season last year, Knapp earned first team All-OVC in the event the OVC Indoor Championships with her height of 5’6”. That wasn’t her best height of the indoor season, however, as she had a leap of 5”7” at the Grand Valley Big Meet.

She was also part of the women’s team that won the OVC Indoor Championship in her freshman year. During the outdoor season, she earned second team All-OVC in the high jump with her second place finish in the OVC Outdoor Championships. The second place finish was also her best leap of the outdoor season at 5’7”

Knapp has been running track since 7th grade and stuck with it after trying out the high jump event.

“In middle school I tried a lot of sports, but track was the one sport I ever stuck with and it’s because one of the weeks we tried field events and I tried the high jump and I loved it,” she said. “I got the hang of it really easily so I stuck with it and just kept getting better.”

Knapp enjoyed a very successful career at Morris Community High School where she earned three straight IHSA Class 2A titles in the high jump. She was the state champion her senior and junior year by clearing 5’8” both times. She first won state her sophomore year with a height of 5’7”.

Her parents and coaches are the people she credits with helping her get to where she is today.

“My parents are so supportive and I can’t ask for any better parents,” she said. “Especially how much they support me and my sports. My club coach who coached me all throughout high school, his name is Bob Cervenka, he just knows high jump, that’s all he does and he’s just very helpful. And obviously coach Akers.”

Knapp and her teammates will be back in action this weekend at the Notre Dame Meyo Invite.


Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]