Sasha Wallace had a way of eliminating drama from most of her track and field events this high school season.
When the junior from Holy Names got in the starting blocks for the 100-meter hurdles or looked down the runway for her first triple jump attempt, she was most likely seconds away from clinching a win.
A perfect example came during the second day of the California Interscholastic Federation state championships at Buchanan High in Clovis on Saturday.
In her first state final of the day, Wallace exploded out of the blocks in the 100 hurdles and had a sizable lead halfway through the race. She finished with a time of 13.33 seconds, the fastest wind-legal time in the nation, according to the DyeStat Elite 100 high school rankings. It was also the sixth-fastest time in California high school history.
"She nailed that hurdle race. She was dead-on," said Curtis Taylor, Wallace's club coach with the East Oakland Youth Development Center.
Then Wallace proceeded to the triple jump pit and essentially locked up another state title with her first leap. It was the shortest of her four marks (40 feet, 11 inches), but still would have won the competition by 10 inches. Her best mark came in the fifth round (41-53/4). She is the girls high school national leader this season (42-43/4, the 10th-best mark in California high school history).
For her excellence, Wallace has been named the Bay Area News Group East Bay Female Athlete of the Year.
"It was a really, really good season for me," Wallace said. "All the competitors pushed me and I was in great fields of athletes."
Wallace's humility is just one of her outstanding traits. She also has a knack for staying cool under pressure -- literally. In her state championship events, Wallace wore a long-sleeved white uniform top and endured the Fresno area's blazing weather, which topped 100 degrees on Friday.
But Wallace handled pressure well all season. For example, at the North Coast Section Bay Shore Area Championships, she had foot fouls on her first two attempts in the triple jump. If she fouled again, her high school season in that event would end.
Wallace started her third jump inches before the board and sailed 41-0 to win the event.
"I just moved back a couple steps so I would be behind the board," Wallace said later. "I was trying to not look at the board and take off wherever I was at 16 steps."
At the NCS Meet of Champions the next week, Wallace nearly matched her season-best in the triple jump, which was set at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 21. Wallace soared 42 feet, 31/4 inches to win the NCS Meet of Champions on May 25. The next day, she was victorious in the 100 hurdles final by .42 seconds.
The assumption was that her races would be significantly closer at the state championships, but they weren't. In her 100 hurdles preliminary heat on June 1, Wallace won by .35 in 13.40, the fastest wind-legal mark in the state for the event at the time. Long Beach Poly's Traci Hicks, who has the fastest all-condition time in the state (a wind-aided 13.22), was in second place.
In the finals Saturday, Wallace was victorious over second-place Jordie Munford of Rancho Cucamonga by .25.
"How many people can say they lead the nation in two events?" Taylor said. "Heck of a season."
For a complete list of the East Bay's top 125 high school athletes and their accomplishments, and a slide show of some of the athletes in action, visit www.contracostatimes.com/high-schools-sports or www.insidebayarea.com/high-school-sports.