Garden City's Gallagher wins two state titles
ITHACA, N.Y. -- She may only be a freshman, but Emma Gallagher looked like a veteran in Saturday's state meet.
Take the 600 meters, for instance. With two slower runners boxing her out early in the race, Garden City's Gallagher had nowhere to move.
So instead of cutting outside to pass them -- a normal maneuver for most runners -- Gallagher thought inside the box and forced herself between the two to make the daring pass.
Gallagher's gutsy move paid off as she won the 600 -- one of two gold medals on the day -- in the girls state indoor track and field championships at Cornell. Gallagher also anchored the winning 4 x 400 relay team, and Molly Josephs won the 1,500 walk to complete the Lady Trojans' trifecta.
Gallagher won in 1:32.37, which was .74 seconds ahead of St. Anthony's Olicia Williams (1:33.11). Bay Shore's Jessica Gelibert took third in 1:33.39.
"I was very surprised," the Garden City runner said. "I kind of bombed the last few years, so as I was coming down the straightaway, I couldn't believe it."
Gallagher started in lane five and found herself in fifth place at the end of the first lap. With little room to pass, Gallagher made her aggressive move to take third and put her in range for the win.
"I got boxed out at the New Balance Games in the same way," the freshman said. "So I knew what I had to do today. It was a learning experience, which helped a lot."
Gallagher followed Williams and Gelibert for the next lap, then turned on the jets with 100 to go and kicked it in for the win.
"I just wanted to go," she said. "I didn't even really think about when I had to kick. I just went with my gut feeling."
Gallagher later went on to anchor the Lady Trojans' winning 4 x 400 team. The squad of Katie O'Neill, Laura Jaeger, Taylor Hennig and Gallagher won in 3:55.73, which was 3.35 seconds ahead of second-place Bay Shore (3:59.08). Kellenberg took third in 4:02.79.
"It's great that I could get another one with the rest of the team," Gallagher said. "It's an honor."
Bay Shore opened up a 20-meter lead by the end of the first leg. Jaeger brought Garden City up to second, Hennig opened up a lead immediately after taking the baton, and Gallagher brought it in for the victory.
"We've got a lot of depth," Hennig said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to keep this tradition going."
Earlier in the meet, Josephs held on in the walk to win her first state title in five tries. The senior took first in 7:04.84, two one-hundredths of a second ahead of Westhampton's Annica Penn (7:04.86).
Josephs kept a 10-meter lead on the field for most of the race, but Penn caught her on the final lap. Penn tried to outlean Josephs at the line, but Josephs was able to hold her off to take the win. Sachem East's Kelly Maranchuck finished third in 7:06.36.
"I didn't know she was coming until I saw her at the very, very end," said Josephs, who won her first state title in five tries. "I thought I had lost by a tiny bit, that I was going to be so close."
Kellenberg's Odrine Belot won the Federation triple jump title with a jump of 39-1 1/4.
Elmont's Valencia Hannon took home state gold in the 55 (7.22), and Longwood's Adaora Nwodili won the state title in the shot put with a throw of 42-3 1/2.
"I was just looking to throw my personal best," Nwodili said. "I'm glad that my hard work finally paid off."
Adrienne Alexander actually won the shot put (42-8), but because Loughlin competes in the CHSAA, the state crown went to Nwodili.