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Coach. Fremont High School track and cross country coach, 1965-1997.

Whenever great all-time coaches of high school track & field or cross country are mentioned in Nebraska, the name of Jon Appleget pops right into the discussion. Serving as head cross country and track & field coach at Fremont High School between 1965 and 1997, his record is remarkable. Twice the Black and Gold won the state cross country boys title during his tenure and in track, he had a spectacular ten-year period when his teams won the boys state track & field title five times. His athletes finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd in over 150 meets. Small wonder then that he won state coach of the year honors five times and won the type of respect previously reserved for others such as Dutch Zorn and Wayne Binfield, early Hall of Fame inductees.  The school honored him by naming the track and field facility in his name.

By Brett Ellis/Tribune Staff , Fremont Tribune, Spring, 2002

Chip Bahe believes Saturday’s dedication of the Jon M. Appleget Track and Field Facility is a fitting tribute to the man who helped bring the Fremont High School boys track program to prominent status in the state. “I wouldn’t think any other name would be sufficient,” said the Lincoln Northeast boys basketball coach, who competed under Appleget from 1983-85 at FHS. “Fremont track and the name Jon Appleget go hand in hand. I don’t think anybody else’s name could be attached to it.”

Appleget will be honored during Saturday’s Fremont Invitational. The dedication is scheduled to take place around 3 p.m.

Appleget, who coached the Tigers to five state track titles, is honored that so many of his past athletes want to recognize him.

“I think it means that they got something out of the program, and I guess that makes any coach proud,” he said.

Sean McMahon was a distance runner for Appleget and replaced him as boys cross country coach in the fall of 1997.

McMahon appreciates the time he had to work with Appleget.

“From day one he was a big inspiration,” McMahon said. “You just know from being around him a few seconds that he’s someone who’s a role model and someone you want to emulate.”

Bahe agrees.

“He made track fun and that’s not an easy thing to do,” he said. “He had such a unique quality about him that made you want to be successful for each other. He made track a team game.”

Along with his five state titles, Appleget received several other honors while at Fremont. He was inducted into the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame in 1998 and was the Nebraska Coaches Association track coach of the year 1984-86 and 1990.

Appleget, though, is quick to acknowledge that his success was based largely on the coaches with which he surrounded himself, including Pat Murphy — who coached with Appleget from 1965 until they retired together in 1997.

“We were just lucky to have that continuity,” Appleget said.

Mike Reis, who has been a sprint and hurdles coach at FHS since 1971, said Appleget was so successful because he encouraged his athletes to enjoy their participation in track.

“It just goes back to making it fun,” Reis said. “It was controlled fun, but that’s the best way to get what you want out of the kids.”

Reis developed a relationship with Appleget that extended beyond the track, though.

“Above all he was a friend, and that’s probably the best thing you can say about him,” Reis said.

What separated Appleget from many other coaches, McMahon said, was that he put in the time and effort to learn all aspects of the sport.

“I don’t know that there was a weakness of his,” McMahon said.

McMahon also hopes the current Fremont athletes take the time Saturday to appreciate what Applegate, as well as the numerous other athletes that have gone through the Fremont program, have done.

Between 250-300 people are expected to attend the track reunion, many of which also will be at the invitational.

“It’s not something we’ve been talking to them a lot about, but they’ve been figuring a lot out on their own,” McMahon said. “They want to do well because they know that there will be a lot of people out there supporting them. I think it will be an electric and exciting atmosphere.”

Copyright © 2002  Fremont Tribune