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Sprinters become friends, champions; Grove's Walter doubles; Will East's Allen wins 200

Sprinters Kala Allen of Williamsville East and Christina Walter from Maple Grove got to know each other during their time as roommates at the Section VI team hotel during the New York State track and field championships.

They swapped track stories and talked about how to get out of the starting blocks better.

They have something else to talk about after their performances Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse High School: how it feels to be a state champion.

Walter was a double-winner, taking both the Division II 100-meter title in 12.46 seconds and the 200 title in 25.46. Allen won the public school championship in the 200 (25.17) and placed second in the 400.

"I was very excited to find out I was rooming with Kala Allen because I've always kind of looked at her like, 'Whoa, Kala Allen,' " Walter, a sophomore, said. "She's amazing -- but I got to know her so it was really cool. And I got to run against her once before she graduated, which I really wanted to do."

Walter ran her best times ever in qualifying Friday and wasn't sure she could duplicate the performance. When she called her parents that night, both sides were at a loss for words.

"I was just kind of nervous because I was seeded second and I thought maybe it was a fluke and I was never going to do it again," Walter said. "[My parents] didn't really know what to say. I said I didn't really know how that happened."

Walter gives credit to first-year head coach Marcus Clark, going as far as saying the modernizations he made in her training were "like the Meiji Restoration of track."

Clark says it's all in keeping up with the times. They watch tutorials on YouTube together and take measurements of her shin angle relative to the ground. They can take it even farther, but for right now Clark says she's doing just fine.

"Every year there's some new philosophy. You just try to keep up with the latest techniques and the technology to do it," he said. "We film and we look and we measure. She's always laughing, I have my great-grandfather's sliding T-bevel, which measures angles, and I'll have her get in the block and get set and I'll measure the back angle of her leg trying to get it to 130 [degrees]. She thinks it's funny, but that's what it's used for."

Allen got out of the blocks well in the 200 and held off a push from Valley Stream North's Shanice Johnson (Section VIII) at the finish.

"My starts are usually unpredictable, [but] I felt like I had a good start," Allen said. "I saw a girl in lane three catch up and I knew I wanted it more, so I just kept going and leaned at the finish."

Allen couldn't break her own Section VI record in the 400 (54.61), which she set as a freshman in 2009, in her last high school meet. She finished in second place Saturday in 55.69, two seconds behind the winner.

Sweet Home's Stephanie Izard said she skipped her senior prom Thursday to get in a good night's sleep ahead of the pentathlon, and it paid off as her Friday scores powered her to 3,374 points and the state championship Saturday.

Izard wasn't happy with her time in the 800 -- 2:32.92 -- but after building a big lead on Friday, the 657 points it earned her were enough for the title. She improved from a fourth-place finish at last year's state meet but shied away from taking any credit, giving it to coaches instead.

"They always believe in me. They always have more confidence in me than I sometimes have in myself," Izard said.

*Lauren Hudson from Williamsville North was fourth in the D-I high jump, clearing 5-4, while Southwestern's Brittany Feldman took third in D-II, clearing 5-1.

*Holland's Chelsea Grupp, who was coming off her best-ever time in qualifying, placed fifth in the D-II 200 with 26.39.

*Starpoint's Bernice Dumbelton placed third in the Federation discus throw, with 119-6. Immaculata's Kaitlyn Lopez took third in the Fed long jump, leaping 18 feet even.