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Red Wolves to see improved facilities this fall

Above: TFS facilities plans include expanding the wrestling area to accommodate the increased interest in girls wrestling. (Photo: Josh Bootsma) 

LANSING, Ill. (March 3, 2023) – With 180 athletes between the boys and girls teams, the Red Wolves track and field program has outgrown its facilities.

But there’s help on the way as part of a major facilities upgrade approved by the District 215 school board at its February 28 meeting. Among the highlights:

  • A new artificial turf football field
  • An eight-lane track to replace the current six-lane version
  • Another jumping runway, along with a pole-vault area
  • Air conditioning and other improvements for the school’s original gym

Improving, expanding, and hosting

Athletic director Marc Brewe said the idea of improving the TF South’s athletic facilities has been around for nearly a decade. But the rising profile of the Red Wolves’ track program and the general trend away from grass football fields make the decision to upgrade especially timely.

“Steve [Nelson, South’s boys track coach] and Ellie [Belli, the girls coach] have made a commitment to improve the program and expand the numbers,” Brewe said.

Going from six to eight lanes, boosting jumping capacity, and adding the pole vault expands the hosting possibilities for South.

“We’re very excited,” Belli said. “We felt limited with the meets we could host with six lanes.”

When construction is done, the Red Wolves can host more conference and IHSA sectional meets.

“I feel like we’ve kind of moved our program (forward) in the last several years, and now we’ll have the facilities to match,” Belli said.

Construction season for the Red Wolves

Construction is expected to begin this spring, which likely will force the Red Wolves to travel for most if not all meets. But the temporary inconvenience will be far outweighed by the opportunities the upgraded physical plant will present.

Brewe said there also will be adjustments in the Red Wolves’ football schedule this fall. South is scheduled to open with four straight road games with the hope being the new surface will be ready for a Week 5 home opener.

Red Wolves
TF South will expand its track to eight lanes, and install a new artificial turf football field. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

“If we’ve got to make (additional) adjustments to the schedule, in the long run it’ll be worth it,” Brewe said.

Changing needs are also a factor in some of the upgrades to the school’s original gym. With the school year — and fall sports — starting earlier in recent years, having air conditioning will make for a better atmosphere for athletes and fans on warm August and September days.

Upstairs in the balcony, there are plans to remove rarely used bleachers to make room for another batting cage and an expanded wrestling area. The latter is important as South sees an increase in interest in its girls wrestling program.

Other improvements planned are redoing the floor and upgrading to LED lights in the old gym as well as installing new lights at the football stadium.

Belli can’t wait to see what the Red Wolves’ physical plant will look like down the road.

“It should be one of the best in the area when it’s done,” she said.

TF South is located at 18500 Burnham Avenue in Lansing.


Mike Clark
Mike Clark
Mike Clark is a veteran journalist who has been covering sports in the Chicago area and beyond, from preps to pros, for more than four decades.

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