While teams changed into their spikes and jogged warmup laps before Sunday’s MSTCA Division 2 State Relays, Wellesley girls’ distance coach Cassie McLaughlin huddled her Raiders near the finish line for one last round of baton handoff drills.
“You really want to maximize the ability of being able to move through the zone,” McLaughlin said. “I always tell the girls to get as close to the finish line as possible.”
That attention to detail paid off for the Raiders in a girls’ meet with razor-thin margins. Wellesley (46 points) pulled out a crucial second-place finish in the 4x400-meter race (4:09.04), leapfrogging Peabody (42 points) for the Raiders’ second straight state relay title at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.
“These kids are just really dialed into the sport,” Wellesley indoor track coach John Griffith said. “They love what they’re doing and the work they’re putting in is unbelievable.”
The Raiders won the long jump relay (14.83 meters), 4x800 (9:38.09), and distance medley relay (12:35.98). Even Wellesley’s ‘B’ team contributed a valuable point with a sixth-place finish in the 4x800 (10:30.10).
Sophomore Charlotte Tuxbury and her younger sister ran on the winning 4x800 and distance medley relays.
“It’s nice to have her in practice because we just push each other,” Charlotte said of Emma, a freshman. “And then we also push each other on weekdays as well.”
On the boys’ side, North Andover rolled to its fourth consecutive state relay title. Depth played a key role. The Scarlet Knights picked up points in every event, and finished with 71 — 37 more than runner-up Reading (34 points).
“Our depth is definitely the strongest part of our team,” North Andover coach Jason Guarente said. “We have some high-end talent, but the depth with that high-end talent is what makes this meet one of our favorite meets to compete at because we get to bring those pieces in and they can showcase just how strong they are at each individual event.”
The Scarlet Knights finished first in the high jump relay and 4x50 (22.382), and second in the shuttle hurdle (27.20), 4x800 (8:21.96), shot put relay (17 feet 4 inches), and long jump relay. North Andover’s ‘B’ relay team in the 4x50 (22.79) earned six points with a third-place finish.
Senior captains Nathan Jacques and Zack Traficante have been part of a state relay-winning team all four years of their careers.
“It’s pretty awesome to show how our teams are able to all stay connected and well-rounded,” Traficante said.
Jacques and Traficante both participated in North Andover’s winning high jump relay, and Jacques also ran on the second-place shuttle hurdle and shot put relays.
“Watching people give me knowledge and me giving back knowledge to them is a wonderful thing,” Jacques said. “Seeing how the teams get better each year is pretty amazing.”