Saturday's Section VI indoor track and field championships can be summed up in one word: Amazing.
That's because the annual state qualifying meet featured a photo finish that failed to break a tie and an unbelievable last-gasp dash for the finish line by Kala Allen that left the estimated 600 fans at Fredonia State's Steele Hall in awe.
Allen, the Williamsville East freshman who last spring turned the outdoor state meet into a coming-out party, delivered another show-stopping performance while running the anchor leg of the 4x400 relay. Allen did her best Flash imitation, as she overcame a final-lap deficit of more than 50 meters to help the Flames win their first relay title in more than 20 years.
Williamsville East's crew of Amy French, Sarah Spitznogle, Melissa Spada and Allen edged North Tonawanda, 4:19.48 to 4:19.74, for the right to represent the section at Saturday's state meet at Cornell.
The top two in each individual event along with third-place finishers who have hit the qualifying standard advance to states. The third-place finishers in the 300, 600, 1,000 and 1,50 0/1 ,600 meter races and winning relay teams also advance to states.
Allen, the outdoor state champion in the 400, also won the 300- and 600-meter titles for her first individual indoor titles, but the relay triumph proved to be the most satisfying for the Flames' scarlet speedster.
"I'm glad my teammates can go to states with me," said Allen, who caught and passed NT's Kayleigh Bemisderfer on the final straightaway. "I thought I had no chance. I was about to give up but then I saw her slowing down and I knew I had a little left in the tank."
"She always seems happiest when her teammates do well," Williamsville East coach Kurt Holme said. "We thought that there was a chance but we had no idea until the end that she was going to have enough energy to do it."
That she did, even though it seemed like Bemisderfer, who helped the Lady Jacks win the 4x200 and 4x400 relay titles last year, would hold off Allen.
"We had a six-second lead on her which you'd think would be enough," NT coach Mike Schermerhorn said. "That [Allen's effort] was something special."
As was the finish in the boys 55-meter dash, as a photo finish settled nothing. Niagara Falls' Brian Archie, the lone individual triple winner of the meet, and Lancaster's David Aoun were declared co-champions of the race after they and West Seneca East's Jesse Fodero finished with identical times of 6.67 seconds.
The camera, which showed Fodero finishing a hair after the other two, broke down the finish to the 10,000th of a second and failed to break the dead heat between Archie and Aoun, boys chairman Pete Szymanski said.
"I feel it's like the right thing [sharing the title]," said Aoun, who also aided the winning efforts of the Redskins' 4x200 relay team and will focus on that and pole vault at the state meet.
"I still get the title even if it's sharing it," said Archie, who also won the long jump (22-7) and triple jump (43-11 3/4 ). "A title is a title. . . . It feels good."
Mikayka Pearce of Maryvale and Will Cole of Hamburg also were individual double winners, with Pearce's triumph in the girls 55 an upset.
The fifth-seeded Pearce edged fellow freshman and No. 2 seed Kailyn Arcury of Williamsville South by .003 seconds, posting a school-record time of 7.354.
"I don't know how to explain it. I'm so happy," said Pearce, the first Flyer to win an indoor title who also won the long jump.
Arcury recovered to win the 55 hurdles for her first sectional title. Lancaster junior and defending state champion Melissa Kurzdorfer won her fourth straight shot put title.
Cole entered the meet with an ambition to win three events, but was too tired to complete the mission after winning the 600 and 300.
"I just had too much on my plate," Cole said.