Every point matters if a team wants to claim a league championship.
It certainly did for the Salina South girls track and field team, which edged Derby by a single point in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division I meet Friday at Salina Stadium. It was the Cougar girls' first conference title in 39 years.
South finished with 114 points to 113 for Derby, with a sixth-place finish in the 1,600-meter relay providing the winning margin.
"Something we've talked about all year (is) that the fourth, fifth and sixth places are even more important than first and second places," South coach Justin Ebert said. "It's great for our girls to come away with something pretty special. We're a young team this year.
"It took all (the) classes to come together and put this thing together. It's exciting that friends and family can come see our girls perform, and we needed every voice today. When you win a meet by one point, every little thing helps, and being at home helps us out."
Here are some of the Cougars' top performances in the meet.
Tamia Cheeks places in three events, wins 100 hurdles
Tamia Cheeks has set a high bar for the rest of her high school track career.
Only a freshman, Cheeks placed in three events, highlighted by her league championship in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.27 seconds. She also was the runner-up in the high jump with a clearance of 5 feet and took fourth in the 300-meter hurdles (50.23)
"I can just thank my coaches (enough) since they pushed me really hard this season," Cheeks said. "I think the best part is I've made that place for myself now and I know next year I get to improve."
Cheeks, who started competing in the hurdles during her eighth-grade year at South Middle School, said she gave it a shot and excelled in those events.
"She's an incredible athlete," Ebert said. "Finding the right spot to put her on the track and in the field is something that's tough to do because she's so good at most of that stuff. It's exciting to see her have success in the 100 hurdles. I was really happy for her to run today.
"She had a great meet for us and we needed those points."
Cheeks looks up to several others for motivation, include senior South teammate Brooklynn Needham and former American Olympian Florence Griffith Joyner.
"I think the biggest motivation is just like those older people I look up to in track, especially people on my team," Cheeks said. "Brooklynn is a great person to be around and she's a great role model to look after.
"Flo-Jo, I just liked her style. She was one of the fastest, but she had her little flair with her nails and just made a statement."
Kaliah Martinson wins high jump
Kaliah Martinson didn't think she could win a league championship as a freshman.
But with a clearance of 5 feet, 2 inches, she broke her personal best in the high jump, beating Cheeks, who cleared 5-0.
"It means a lot because I got to accomplish something really big," Martinson said.
Ebert said Martinson started on the Cougars' junior varsity squad and battled health problems throughout the season, but managed to save her best for the right time.
"We're proud of the work she's put in," Ebert said.
South had multiple runners-up
Led by Cheeks and Martinson, South had multiple top-two finishes.
On the girls side, Bethany Hicklin took second in the pole vault, clearing 9-6. Lila Samreth finished second in the triple jump (32-06.50), and Olivia Mancino-Hinde was second in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 12:31.90.
Kayson Dietz had the top finish for the South boys, taking second in the shot put with a personal best of 50-9.
What's next for Salina South
South will compete at the Emporia Class 5A regional meet at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Welch Stadium on the campus of Emporia State University. Preliminaries for running events begin at 4:30 with finals slated for 30 minutes after the 3,200-meter relays.
Dylan Sherwood has been a sports reporter for the Salina Journal since August 2019. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DSherwoodSJ
This article originally appeared on Salina Journal: Salina South girls track and field wins first league title in 39 years