MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. - Does winning ever get old for Garden City's Emma Gallagher?
"No," she said, without a second thought. "Every race is different. It's never the same story. You can win by a lot or by a little. It's never boring."
And she keeps on doing it. Gallagher showed her outstanding athleticism and versatility at Saturday's New York State girls track and field championships at Middletown High School. The sophomore was first in Division I in the 800 meters with a personal best of 2 minutes, 9.22 seconds. She won the overall state title in the 400 hurdles in 1:01.47.
Gallagher, who specializes in middle distances, decided to give hurdling a try at the beginning of the spring season.
"I tried it in April," Gallagher said. "I really liked it, so I decided to stick with it. The jumping is fun. I've been running the 400 and 800 since seventh grade. It's fun to focus on something else and see new faces. I see a lot of the same faces in the 800 and the 400."
Despite the state championship, Gallagher claims that she needs "a lot of work" in the hurdles event.
"The hardest part is not stutter-stepping when you approach the hurdles," she said. "When you get up to the hurdles, that's what you want to do. But you can't because it throws your tempo off. I'm doing well, but I expect better."
During her hurdles victory, Gallagher began the race in the middle of the pack before creeping up and beating Liverpool's Oreoluwa Akinpelu to the finish line.
"I knew that because the girls usually come from the 100 hurdles and go up in distance, they wouldn't finish strong," Gallagher said. "Since I'm coming down in distance from the 800, I knew that as long as I stayed with them, I could pass them. When they started to die, I picked it up."
Gallagher finished third in the Federation 800. Sabrina Southerland of Benjamin Cardozo High School in Queens and Kellenberg's Jazmine Fray finished first and second, respectively.
"Jazmine and Sabrina are such good competitors," Gallagher said. "Jazmine and I are always together during races. I got at winter nationals and she got me here."
Long Island girls also performed well in the field. Manhasset's Tara Belinsky won the state title in the shot put with a toss of 44 feet, 3 inches. She finished second at the winter meet.
"It was a sigh of relief," Belinsky said. "I've always been coming in second to New Rochelle's Briyah Brown. She's one of my closest friends in shot put. It was bittersweet to beat her, but it was good to get over that bridge."
Belinsky credits her victory with her angle of release, that is the positioning of her arm when she releases the shot put.
"You want to have it at about a 45-degree angle," she said. "If you're too short, it's a line drive. If you're too high, the shot put flies up and goes right down. If you have enough speed and enough height behind it, it'll be the perfect distance. It was all pretty perfect for me. "
Sachem East's Diamond Jackson won the discus, throwing 135-7.