The Marblehead High girls 4×100 relay team was absolutely a force to be reckoned with this spring, according to coach Nolan Raimo, capping their sterling season by winning the State Division 3 Meet with a school-record-breaking time of 49.85. The previous best of 51.60 was established in 2013.
The quartet then came in fourth in the All-States before going to Bangor, Maine, where they finished 10th in the All-New England Meet with a time of 49.88.
“In 2022, we ran a 52.35, which was close but still quite far away from the 51.60 mark,” said Raimo. “This year’s girls 4×200 indoor relay team, which consisted of Cate Trautman, Devin Whalen, Claire Davis, Le’Daisha Williams and Ava Machado — we rotated them around in different meets — won the Division 3 State Championship Meet and then finished ninth in the entire state and 10th in New England.
The 4×200 team continued on to New Balance Nationals, where they ended up breaking the school record with a 1:46.69, which eclipsed the previous best school record of 1:48.50 by nearly two seconds that was established in 2014.
“So, going outdoors, we knew a fast relay time was inevitable in either the 4×100 or 4×400,” Raimo said.
The team decided to focus on the 4×100 with a team that consisted of sophomore Machado, senior captain Trautman, freshman Sadie Halpern and junior Williams.
“All four runners are exceptional 100 and 200 runners, with all of them qualifying for the Division 3 State Championship Meet, and Cate and Ava also making the All-States,” Raimo explained. “That being said, although the individual times were there, the 4×100 with high-speed handoffs in defined zones adds a load of variables that don’t exist in an individual race.”
Raimo continued, “From a strategic point of view, Ava was our best 100-meter runner this spring, and so having her open up the relay provided us a head start over many other teams. Cate Trautman, our best 200-meter runner (26.24), ran the second leg, which is theoretically the longest leg and where you slot your fastest runner. Sadie Halpern is the shortest of the bunch and the fastest curve runner, which is ideal for the third leg. Le’Daisha Williams, who is always calm, cool and collected, would bring the team through the final stretch.”
From the first invitational of the spring season — the Division 3 State Relay Meet — this Marblehead quartet was dominant. They won both the 4×100 and 4×200 on the same day, breaking the school record in both events. Their 4×100 time was 50.63, which lowered the previous school record by a full second.
At that point, they continued on to the Coaches Invitational, which hosts many of the top schools in the state, and they ended up fourth with a time of 50.77.
“It was a horribly hot day, and all the girls ran multiple events,” said Raimo after that meet. “But they still managed a fourth-place finish in the relay.”
Halpern, the star freshman, was dealing with blisters all week long but still battled through to run a quality leg, added Raimo.
The 4×100 team stumbled a bit in the NEC Championship Meet, when running multiple races in every meet inevitably caught up to them. They finished second with a time of 51.43.
The coaches were worried that they overworked their sprinters in the regular season.
“We are supposed to get faster entering the postseason, and that slower time at the conference meet was evidence that we peaked too early,” said Raimo.
But a week after the NEC Meet, they got their fresher legs back at the divisional meet, when the MIAA divides up the events over two days. The team blitzed to the finish line with a 49.85 to win the state championship, beating out the second-place team by 0.01.
“Next up for our foursome was the All-States, where they finished fourth with a time of 49.93, which considering the cold, rainy weather was a huge success,” said Raimo.
The fourth-place finish qualified them for the aforementioned New England Championships in Maine over two days on June 9-10. Again, they were 10th overall in the region with a time of 49.88.
“With three of these runners returning next year — Le’Daisha, Ava and Sadie — we hope to raise the bar again,” said Raimo. “Cate (Trautman) was without a doubt the leader of this year’s relay team, and we wish her the best next year at the University of Colorado-Boulder campus, where she will participate in the honors engineering program.”