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Staples Pole Vaulter Jumps at Chance to Attend Harvard

WESTPORT, Conn. – Staples High pole vaulter Lexie Schachne officially committed Friday to continue her career at Harvard University . But the process for the Westport teen to end up at the Ivy League school in Massachusetts was anything but smooth.

“It was quite stressful and drawn out,’’ Schachne said after she made the announcement in the school cafeteria in front of family, coaches and a large gathering of teammates. “Harvard wasn’t even an option until January. I had heard from them last year, but then they had a coaching change and weren’t going to be recruiting. There was another change this year. And I called them again, and they said they were recruiting. I contacted him, and it went from there.”

Harvard is acquiring a state record-holder in Scachne, who owns the Class LL indoor record. She also owns the school indoor and outdoor records. “It was the combination of athletics and academics that I really liked about Harvard,’’ said Schachne, who considered several other Ivy League schools and universities in the Pacific Athletic Conference. "I felt comfortable with the campus. I could see myself going to school there.”

Schachne entered Staples as a softball player. She joined the indoor track team in the winter and her career took flight from there. “I tried the pole vault, and I loved it immediately,’’ she said.

Andrew Lawrence, who coaches the pole vaulters at Staples, said Schachne showed an early aptitude for the event. “Some kids have the natural talent, and she had it from the beginning,’’ Lawrence said. “She could do things that other girls couldn’t.”

The pole vault might be the most technically demanding sport in track and field. It requires speed, strength, flexibility and fearlessness. “In a matter of a few seconds, you do 13 to 20 different things,’’ Lawrence said. “It has to happen flawlessly. If one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong. Lexie understood that right away.”

Schachne made huge strides as a sophomore when she set a school record for the first time. “It’s crazy,’’ she said. “When I came to Staples, I didn’t know anything about the pole vault or school records. I never thought in a million years I’d be going to Harvard to do the pole vault.”

Schachne continued to rewrite the Staples book as her career continued. As she did, more colleges pursued her. “Every time I went a little higher, some college would send me a letter,’’ Schachne said.

The process may have played out longer than she and her family would have liked. In the end however, it all worked out for the Staples senior.

“Maybe there’s a seventh- or eighth-grader out there that will see what Lexie has done and say, ‘I want to be like Lexie,’’ Staples girls track coach Jesse McCray said. “Maybe we’ll be doing the same thing with another girl in a few years.”

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