CICERO, N.Y. - Emma Gallagher clapped her hands once in celebration as she crossed the finish line in the Division I 400-meter hurdles Friday. It was a rare display of emotion for the usually stoic Garden City junior.
But there was reason to celebrate after a hard-fought victory over Saratoga's Ellery Bianco by 12 hundredths of a second on the first day of the New York State track and field championships at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
The emotion stemmed from the closeness of the race, something that hasn't always been the case during Gallagher's previous state championship victories. Bianco finished in 1:00.06 after jumping out to a fast lead and forcing Gallagher (59.94 seconds) to nip her at the line.
"I didn't go out fast enough," Gallagher said. "I was in lane five and she was in lane three, so I couldn't see her going off the stagger. At the 100-meter mark, I gained on her and she responded. It came down to a kick. She's more of a 100-meter girl, so I knew she would be tired. We both fought to the line. I just really wanted it."
Because of her win, Gallagher, who won her second straight state 400 hurdle title, will be assigned a better lane position for Saturday's Federation 400 hurdles.
"I like to see what's going on," Gallagher said. "I can keep my eye on everyone."
Bayport-Blue Point's 4 x 400 relay team of Kathleen Cibuls, Ashley Magnifico, Brigitte Strobl and Courtney Dooley won the Division II title in 3:57.59. Cibuls, who ran anchor, was competing in the long jump when the starting gun went off and needed to rush to the track. But the chaos actually helped, she said.
"Normally, I get a little nervous before races," Cibuls said. "There was no time to be nervous in this race."
Cibuls finished second in the Division II long jump, going 18 feet, 11/2 inches. Bay Shore's Imani McGhee was second in the Division I long jump (19-21/2). and third in the triple jump (38-4).
Roosevelt's 4 x 100 relay team of Kamishea Callender, Nikita Robertson, Raven Jones and Ashe Davis won the Division II crown in 48.87 seconds.
North Babylon's D'Jai Baker was second in the Division I 400 in 55.86 seconds. Friends Academy's Candace Taylor was second in the Division II 400 (55.55).