“Variety is actually good,” says Chardae Greenlee.
The Homewood-Flossmoor senior knows all about variety. Thanks to a changing family situation, she’s bounced between H-F and T.F. North like a ping-pong ball over her four high school years.
In her freshman and junior years, Greenlee was living in Calumet City, and thus at T.F. North. She lived in Homewood as a sophomore and was enrolled at H-F, then moved back over the summer to join two twin siblings who were enrolling at the school.
To a lesser person, trying to adjust from one school to another once, much less each year, might be daunting. Greenlee has done so in stride.
“In athletics, I always put my best foot forward,” Greenlee said. “In academics, I always strive to get good grades. It’s kinda hard, but it’s not that difficult.”
So Greenlee, with the speed of a meteor, is a Viking through and through now, and could be the final ingredient in the ongoing quest to add another state trophy to the H-F collection. She’s been one of the best triple jumpers in the area for two years, and now is one of the best in the state.
For that, she credits several coaches, including H-F assistant Fuzz Matthews and T.F. North head coach Moses Hulbert, who refined her approach to the triple jump last year.
“I didn’t have a lot of technique,” Greenlee said of her jumping early in her sophomore campaign. “Fuzz helped me a lot, and then Coach Moses at T.F. North. They all put a lot of work into me.”
She jumped 39 feet even on her last leap at last Saturday’s Illinois Top Times meet in Bloomington, her career best. It wasn’t quite enough to take the triple jump title – that went to Jasmine Brown of DeKalb, who jumped 39-9½ on her final attempt – but it identified the contenders for the state crown.
It also gave Greenlee a goal for outdoor.
“Definitely, a 40-foot jump,” she said.
Would that be good enough to win the 3A triple jump title?
“If I get high 40 – and I know I’m capable of it – I know I can do it,” Greenlee said. “It would mean a lot to me, because last year I came in second.”
That was to Chaz Duson of Rich Central, who jumped 40-6¼. Greenlee was second at 38-10½.
“It wasn’t devastating, but I was, ‘OK, I’m the first loser.’ But I know I’ve got a lot of confidence now and I know I can get first.”
There’s plenty to push H-F this season, for Greenlee is not alone as a Vikings threat. Among the sprinters, there’s Shayna Nwokenkwo, who took second in the 60-yard dash at Top Times, plus Mariah Terry and Christian Salley. Among hurdlers, there’s Jayla Stewart, second only to West Aurora’s Emma Spagnola in the 60 hurdles at Top Times, plus Salley.
In fact, Homewood-Flossmoor is so loaded with sprinters, coach Rob Assise will have to sort out who runs in the 100, 200 and 400, a wonderful problem to have. The Vikings’ relay teams should be amazing.
But there’s more.
“We’re got some young throwers who could do pretty well, and our distance girls are starting to round into form a little bit,” Assise said. “Hopefully we can be as well-rounded as we’ve been the past couple of years.”
Assise knows the SouthWest Suburban Red will be a tremendous battle, with Lincoln-Way East, led by national 200 leader Aaliyah Brown, and Bolingbrook the other two contenders.
“It could be the strongest sprint conference in the state, so it definitely pushes the girls,” Assise said. “And they know a lot of the girls, competing with them throughout the summer. It makes it fun. And they don’t have to go far for motivation.”
All three schools should forward large numbers through the Class 3A sectionals to the state finals, so the battle for bragging rights could well last through the 1,600-meter relay, the final race in Charleston.
Greenlee, a big plus for the Meteors last season, relishes the opportunity.
“You have people that will push you; if you have somebody that’s working harder than you, it makes you want to work harder,” she said. “Variety gives you that push.”
Like all triple jumpers, all season long, she’ll hop to it.