Wellesley Athlete of the Week is made possible with sponsorship support from Deland, Gibson Insurance. The family-owned and operated business has carried on this Wellesley tradition for over 30 years.
Favorite thing about running: It’s the feeling you get once you cross the finish line
Mentor: Megan Webb, who competes in 400-meter hurdles now at UPenn
An accomplishment you’re proud of: I went to Nationals for the first time for indoor track.
Lillie Caiazzo ’23 has been involved in sports since she was only six years old when she began playing soccer. On the junior varsity soccer team her first two years of high school before moving up to varsity, Caiazzo also participated in sports during the off seasons to stay in shape for soccer in the fall. During winter she was a part of the girls’ gymnastics team and in sophomore year joined spring track alongside her friends, going into the sport with a casual mindset.
“I did [hurdles] for the first time, and I wasn’t awful at it. So I was like, ‘okay, maybe I’ll start doing this,’” said Caiazzo.
The event of hurdles consists of two different distances: the 100-meter and 400-meter race, both consisting of ten hurdles. The 100-meter race has higher hurdles that are a shorter distance apart while the 400-meter race has shorter hurdles that are a longer distance apart. While she initially thought the 400-meter race wasn’t for her, Caiazzo eventually saw her knack for hurdle racing and began to participate in both events. She has always run both events, but now prefers the 400.
Caizzo recently finished her final meet when the girls’ track team won the Division II State Championship. She ran new personal records in all of her events: 103.7 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles, 15.4 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, and a 58.5 second split in the 400×400 relay.
Caiazzo not only is a talented athlete, but also is a talented mentor for her teammates. A week before the winter indoor track session during her senior year, one of the coaches moved away for a different job, resulting in a new coach. Stepping up, Caiazzo helped with planning and organizing practices as well as acclimating the new coach to the team.
“It was tough because you have to step up and make up workouts and be a leader. It taught me how much work it is and how grateful I was to have such awesome people like my sophomore and junior year when I did it to do that for me,” said Caiazzo.
Following in the footsteps of her team captains when she first joined the team, such as Megan Webb ’22, Caiazzo takes pride in being a mentor for others.
“Lillie is one of the most naturally gifted athletes I have ever coached and she has a true passion for the sport of track and field. There isn’t an event she wouldn’t try for her team,” said John Griffith, one of the track coaches at the high school.
Being a part of a track team, to Lillie, has been a new experience from playing soccer because while she is part of a greater team that wins as a whole, the sport is also very individualized.
“It’s on your own. And I think track is more like that. It’s more about trying to beat yourself, you’re not really like, ‘I need to beat this person, I need to be the best.’ No, I want to beat my record,” said Caiazzo.
Caiazzo will be attending Florida State University as a part of the class of 2027. While she is not officially running for the school team, she hopes to always have running as a part of her life, as sports have always been an important part of her.
As a pastime outside of track, Caiazzo has begun weightlifting with her friends. For her senior project, Caiazzo is working as a pilates instructor. Movement and athletics, as Caiazzo expresses, are an integral part of her identity.
“I definitely think I’m gonna continue running for fun, running for myself. Honestly, I’m going to be really sad not being an athlete, officially, anymore. But, I’m gonna find a group hopefully, like a running group or something to keep me active because, running, it’s just so cool,” said Caiazzo.
Article written by Clementine Zei, Bradford ‘24