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Sachem East’s Atwood earns 1,500-meter crown

Margaret Atwood of Sachem East goes into the

Margaret Atwood of Sachem East goes into the final lap of her 1500 meter race walk victory during the Suffolk girls large school track championships at Suffolk CCC-Brentwood on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

The racewalking well at Sachem East is never dry. The program, which is no stranger to success in virtually every event it sinks its proverbial teeth into, has become a factory for the fairly niche, slow-speed, yet high-drama race. Their latest walking product, Margaret Atwood, has kept the production line of champions moving quite well.

Atwood, who entered the weekend with the fastest time in the state, according to, won the 1,500-meter walk in 6 minutes, 49.42 seconds at the Suffolk girls large school track and field championships at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Sunday morning.

Even without being pushed in the championship race, Atwood walked only a few milliseconds slower than her season best, a 6:49.26, clocked at a Suffolk crossover meet Dec. 17.

“I think this year has been all about fitness,” Atwood said. “I haven’t really had the opportunity to race anyone close to me yet, so I’ve just been focusing more on time.”

Atwood, who was a teammate of national champion walker Lauren Harris before Harris’ graduation last June and now walks under the watchful eye of Olympian Maria Michta-Coffey, who works with the Sachem East team, has learned from the best and is now getting a chance to show it.

“I think performance and attitude is definitely contagious,” Atwood said. “Being able to train with Lauren for my first three years of high school definitely helped a lot and having Maria there supporting me is very beneficial.”

With Atwood’s help, Sachem East took home the team championship with 83 points, its third consecutive indoor county title, coach Dan Schaub said. Sachem East’s 4 x 800 relay team, composed of Bridget Abraldes, Shayna Arrigo, Rachel Weber and Rachel Ruggiero won in 9:54.43.

Elsewhere, Copiague’s Akajia Atkins won the 55 meters in 7.35 seconds and the long jump, flying 18 feet, 2 1⁄2 inches. Longwood’s Kelsey Shapiro won the high jump, clearing 5-4 and Floyd’s Kaylah Britt went 37-11 to win the triple jump.

Ward Melville’s 4 x 400 relay team, fresh off their victory at Saturday’s Millrose Games in Manhattan, won Sunday in 4:07.07. Samantha Rutt, Allyson Gaedje, Elizabeth Radke and Samantha Sturgess won the highly competitive Long Island 4 x 400 at Millrose in 3:57.84 and were given a sort of “champion reprieve” when charged with winning a county championship less than 24 hours later.

“We do a lot of training to help with this kind of doubling,” Gaedje said. “But you still feel a little bit tired.”

Both Rutt and Gaedje won individual events, as well. Gaedje won the 600 in 1:39.67 and Rutt outpaced two girls in the final 10 meters to win the 1,000 in 3:07.57. Arrigo (3:07.82) and Abraldes (3:07.98), both of Sachem East, finished second and third respectively.

“I didn’t really see them at all and I couldn’t really sense them, so I guess that was kind of odd,” Rutt said of the 1,000. “But our last lap was so much faster than the rest of them. We kicked the last lap, so I guess it was just all adrenaline and energy, trying to make it all the way through the line.”

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