Conference championship comes down to final race
By Josh Bootsma
LANSING, Ill. (May 27, 2021) – The TF South girls track team crossed its biggest finish line of the year on Tuesday as the squad took first place in the South Suburban Conference Championship, setting it up to compete in next week’s sectional tournament.
Tuesday’s conference meet came down to the wire, as Oak Forest High School and TF South were locked in a battle for first place as runners lined up for the final race of the day.
“We were only ahead by three points going into the last race and our four-by-four really performed well and they won that race, solidifying the championship. That was very exciting and very emotional,” said coach Elissa Belli.
Belli said the 4×400 meter relay squad was ranked second or third coming into the race, and was composed of two freshman, a sophomore, and a junior. The foursome won the race, securing TF South the conference championship trophy.
Team effort, senior leadership
Belli said the team has roughly 35 members, many of which are young. Though Tuesday’s win required solid efforts from the whole team, two senior performances were some of the largest point-scorers of the meet. Senior Shanera Cambric won three events and tied for first in another event, notching more points than anyone else on the team. Senior Taryn Wilson also contributed points to the team’s win, winning the shot put event and taking third in discus.
“It was really a team effort,” Belli said. “We scored points in every event except three of them.”
Track meets are scored using a point system where athletes are awarded points if they perform well in a given event. Those points are then added up to create a school total as the meet progresses. At the end of the meet, schools are ranked by how many points they’ve scored. The school with the most points is the winner.
This year’s season was a unique one because of the pandemic. The team started practicing in April this year where athletes would usually start in January in a normal season. Usually, a season includes a handful of indoor meets, all of which were cancelled this year. Belli said that although outdoor meets were sometimes hard to find this season, the team ended up competing in a similar amount of events as previous years, though within a shorter time window.
“The girls have really risen to the challenge. … Leading up to the conference, I was a little more anxious than usual because usually we have more time to prepare, but they did really well,” Belli said.
Another notable this season was Cambric’s breaking the school record for long jump. Belli said the record-breaking jump occurred at the first meet of the year, and because the measurement metric for the event recently switched to meters, it wasn’t until about a week later that the team realized Cambric had broken the TF South record.
Elissa Belli – Coach of the Year
Another win for TF South on Tuesday was coach Belli’s Coach of the Year award. Belli has coached TF South girls track for six years, and ran track at TF South when she was in high school.
Belli — who also teaches math at the school — helped lead the track team to a conference championship in 2019 as well, a season for which she also received a Coach of the Year award.
Belli hopes the recent TF South success continues, not just into next week’s sectional, but into the coming years as well.
“We’re hoping that this is kind of the direction we’re moving in, where we will continue to be a successful program. We’ve been building to this point for a couple of years so we’re hoping to be a major player in the years to come,” Belli said.
TF South will compete in the sectional tournament at Minooka High School on Wednesday, where the top two athletes in each event will move on to the state competition the week after. Belli said scores will be updated throughout Wednesday’s event at athletic.net.
TF South is located at 18500 Burnham Avenue, Lansing, IL.
- TF South football ends season with loss to Lemont (April 24, 2021)
- TF South baseball bests TF North in annual game at U.S. Steel Yard stadium in Gary (April 21, 2021)
- TF South Badminton wins sectional, moves on to state (March 26, 2021)