A hop, a skip, and a jump.
That’s what the triple jump consists of. Go back far enough, and that’s what it was called.
It demands precision as much as it requires force.
Chardae Greenlee is among the best in the area at combining the two.
And the T.F. North junior has a secret to her success.
“I think of it as a dance, and I like to dance,” Greenlee said.
”You’ve got to have a technique for dance, so I just put that together.”
It’s working. Her best triple jump this year is 39 feet, 11 1/2 inches, and it came at a perfect time, during the Class 3A sectional meet. She improved by more than a foot on the explosive 38-11 at the South Suburban Blue Conference final, when she won by more than three feet, with teammate Kinnedra Johnson second.
Peaking for conference and state competition — especially the latter — is what every track athlete aims for, and Greenlee has taken perfect aim. Her sectional leap is the best of any state championship qualifier in any class. Second-seeded Allie Vergilio of Jacobs is 10 inches back, at 39-1 1/4, with the Rich Central tag team of Aliyah Harmon and Chaz Duson third and fourth, about 16 inches back of Greenlee.
“I think it’s my determination and heart,” Greenlee said of her drive. “I like to be competitive and get first place.”
Greenlee is more than a triple jumper. She’s also solid in the long jump and a huge part of the Meteors’ relay teams, so much so that coach Moses Hulbert shifted her from the long jump to a third relay at sectional, along with the triple jump (an athlete can compete in a maximum of four of the 18 events). However, the Meteors failed to advance any relays to the big show in Charleston. Greenlee’s only teammate at the championship will be senior Markeya Taylor, who advanced in both shot put and discus.
Like many who participate in the spring, Greenlee started just to keep in form for her “main” sport.
“It was something to stay in shape, because I’m a basketball player,”
Greenlee said. “Then my father and some other people brought it to my attention: ‘You know, you’re really fast. You should probably invest in it.’ I did, and I ended up liking it.”
There could be a big payoff down the line.
“She’s D-1 in track,” Hulbert said. “I can’t speak for basketball. She’s an easy sell in track. I can sell her in short sprints, in jumps. We’re talking University of Kansas, the Big Ten level. She might even be able to jump in the SEC.”
The key to T.F. North’s exhausting “Cover Zero” defense in basketball, Greenlee wants to play basketball in college. However, she’s also realistic. Continuing improvement over the next year could see scholarship offers come her way for track instead, or competing offers.
“That’s kind of a hard decision, because my heart is in basketball, but I do love track, and I would do it if was the opportunity,” Greenlee said. “Definitely.
“I’m going where the money is.”
Dancing all the way.