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Garden City's Emma Gallagher follows race plan, sets 600 mark

Garden City's Emma Gallagher leads in the girls

Garden City's Emma Gallagher leads in the girls 600-meter run at the Molloy Stanner Games. (Jan. 12, 2013) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Another week, another meet record for a Long Island runner. Seven days after Westhampton Beach's Annica Penn brought down the 1,500-meter walk record at the Hispanic Games, Garden City sophomore Emma Gallagher took control of the Molloy Stanner Games 600-meter girls mark yesterday at the Armory in Manhattan.

Gallagher's 1 minute, 30.97 seconds broke the previous standard of 1:31.14, set by Catherine McAuley High School's (Brooklyn) Phyllis Francis in 2010. The time is also the best in the country this season, according to milesplit.com.

"I went out fast," Gallagher said. "That was really helpful toward the middle of the race. Usually, I go out too slow. But [Saturday], I went out on pace."

That pacing was something coach Erica Fregosi stressed all week.

"She followed the race plan perfectly," Fregosi said. "She went out hard, ran through the 400 mark, and held on. There really isn't anything she could have done better. It was the perfect race."

Although she's been on the team since the seventh grade, Gallagher said that she's learned a lot about race strategy, and how to use it to her advantage, in the last two years. Sometimes, strategies can be complicated -- at other times, they are more direct.

The Stanner Games strategy was simple.

"Go all out," Gallagher said.

She wasn't the only Garden City runner to follow that strategy expertly in the 600. Katie O'Neill came in second -- crossing the finish line in 1:36.33.

Earlier in the meet, Holy Trinity's Caroline Brown won the mile invitational in 5:07.55.

The senior cruised to victory in the final lap, thanks to a timely move past a tightly grouped front of the pack.

"My goal was to react to whatever happened [in the race]," Brown said.

With 400 meters left, she made the move, sprinting forward and turning the rest of the field into spectators.

"I felt good and knew that I didn't have a lot of the race left," she said. "It was [now] or never."

Although the final move may have clinched the race, Brown's jump off the starting line was the key to the rest of her run.

"I got right on the leader," Brown said of the first few laps. "I didn't let myself get stuck behind anyone or boxed in."

The race featured only one heat, composed of elite milers. This gave Brown a chance to prove her mettle against top competition.

"You know you're with the best [racers]," Brown said. "You know you can't slack and will be challenged."

She certainly answered the call.

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