Maria Wood’s parents knew their daughter was fast growing up. Whether playing youth soccer or basketball, Wood was always the fastest on the field.
“Watching her play soccer…we just knew she had wheels,” said Troy Wood.
The 17-year-old will have a chance to prove she’s one of the fastest girls in the Massachusetts this weekend when she competes in the MIAA Outdoor Track and Field All-State meet in Norwell. The Abington High School junior won both the 100 meter and 200 meter sprint last weekend at the Division 2 South championship.
“Pure elation” is how Wood described pulling off the sweep.
“Everything I had worked up to at that point had finally come to fruition.”
Wood had a strong spring track season as a freshman in 2019 during which she set the school record in the 100, and was crushed when the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19. So she put in extra work leading up to her junior year, when she knew college recruiters would be closely watching.
The result was a dominant spring 2021 track season where she went undefeated in the 100 and 200 in the South Shore League, breaking the school record in the 200 and setting a new school standard in the 100. She was also part of the school’s record-setting 4×100 relay team. It followed an indoor track season where she was undefeated in the 300 meters, and only lost one conference race in the 55 meter sprint.
“Its nice especially after seeing how bummed out she was after losing her sophomore year,” Wood’s mother, Caly, said. “She just wanted a chance to run, really…She just wanted to be on that track with the coaches and kids.”
Girls Track Coach Matt Campbell said Wood’s success is directly related to how hard she has worked over the months and years.
“Maria’s ascent into the record books did not happen overnight, but came because of the thousands of meticulous hours put into her craft,” he said. “Maria’s attention to detail, from her starting blocks to her accuracy of running the correct splits at practice all play an important role in her success.”
Wood, who is a high honors student and member of the National Honor Society, gave credit back to the high school coaching staff, which changed the way runners prepared.
“The way we train has definitely helped,” she said. “We started to get [split times], not just during races but during our workouts. It helps figure out our pacing, like personal breakdowns.”
Both Wood and Campbell also gave credit to senior captain Elizabeth Roy. Wood said Roy served as a great mentor, helping her understand how to prepare, such as focusing on getting off the blocks strong.
“Maria and Elizabeth are now the top two 100 meter and 200 meter runners in the history of Abington and I know how much they appreciate what the other has done for them,” Campbell said.
The MIAA restructured the girls spring track divisions for 2021 – one more COVID related change. It meant Abington, which usually competes in Division 4, was pushed up to Division 2, competing against a number of much larger schools.
Based on her superior league season, Wood was the top-ranked runner in both the 100 and 200 going in to last week’s divisional meet.
“It was a little extra pressure,” she said.
With the second ranked sprinter in the lane next to her, Wood outkicked the competition over the last 25 meters of the 200 final to win with a time of 25.73 seconds.
Unfortunately the heats for the 100 were just 30 minutes later, which didn’t leave much time for recovery on a warm June afternoon.
“Usually they give us 45 minutes to an hour, so the turnaround time wasn’t great,” Wood said.
But she won her heat and then used a strong start off the blocks to take the 100 meter final with a time of 12.44.
The dual win also helped Abington finish 4th overall, an impressive showing for the school.
“It was good to put our name on the map,” said Wood, who also plays on the Abington girls soccer team.
Caly and Troy Wood have enjoyed watching as their daughter went from racing the boys on the playground, to discovering track and field as a seventh grader at the former Frolio School, and climbing the ranks of scholastic sprinters.
“I’m unbelievably proud,” said Caly Wood. “Everything she does she puts her heart 100 percent into it, whether it’s her grades or her workouts.
“She doesn’t just like something, she loves it.”