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  • Writer's picturePana Sports Foundation

Rachelle Harbert Senese (Class of 2008) - 2023 Hall of Fame Inductee

Rachelle Harbert Senese was one of the most prolific student athletes to ever walk the halls of Pana High School. As a student, she was valedictorian of her class, receiving numerous scholarships and department awards. As an athlete, she was a top player in volleyball, basketball, and track & field, earning First Team All-Conference in each sport.

As a setter on the volleyball team, Rachelle was the quarterback of the team, leading them to a Sweet 16 finish her senior year. She was a three-year starter at that position, garnering awards all three years. As a sophomore, junior, and senior, Rachelle had the most assists, highest serving percentage, and most saves. Junior year she also had the most service points. Senior year was a record setting year as Rachelle again had the most assists with 798 – a record she still holds today. She also holds the record for most career assists with 2,031. In addition to the All-Conference Team, Rachelle was named to the SJ-R All-Area First Team, Decatur H & R Second Team, and Sports Boosters MVP.

On the basketball court, Rachelle was a point guard – another quarterback position – leading them to a Sweet 16 finish as well! As a sophomore and junior, she received the Best Defensive Player award. As a senior, the team won the conference and finished with a 27-4 record. In addition to being an All-Conference player, she received the Peoples Bank GPA Award.

On the track, and especially in the field, is where Rachelle left her mark. She is the only PHS female athlete to be a STATE CHAMPION in any sport! As a pole vaulter, Rachelle placed 12th as a freshman, sophomore 5th, junior 8th, and 1st as a senior. She is also the school record holder with a vault of 10’ 9”. Rachelle was a four-time SCC champion, and three-time MVP. Other recognition includes Maria Witsman Dedication Award, Peoples Bank GPA Award, Sports Boosters Co-Female Athlete of the Year, and the prestigious SJ-R Small School Track & Field Athlete of the Year. It should be noted that Rachelle was also a runner, qualifying for the state meet in the 400M dash, 4 x 100M relay, and 4 x 400M relay her junior year.

To reiterate what was stated earlier, Rachelle was an excellent student. In addition to being the valedictorian, she was an Illinois State Scholar, two-year member of the National Honor Society, American Legion Award winner, Daughters of the American Revolution award winner, AND a member of both the Homecoming and Prom courts!

After high school, Rachelle continued her pole vault career at Illinois State University. She received her varsity letter all four years. Rachelle was an AFNI Honor Roll recipient all four years at ISU and served as a team captain for two years. During her college career, Rachelle qualified for Drake Relays and set the indoor and outdoor pole vault school records. Her record jump was 12' 9.50”.

Upon graduation, Rachelle entered the education field as a middle school math teacher. She coached 7th grade volleyball and high school girls track for two years at Maroa-Forsyth. After getting married, she moved to southeast Wisconsin where she continues to teach math. Rachelle and her husband, Vincent, have three beautiful children. She is an active member in her school, community, and church. She serves on the PTO board and teaches religious education. In the future, she plans to start coaching again.

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