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Sweet Home's Davis has the time of his life

ENDICOTT - It was the best split-second of Nathaniel Davis' life.

The junior from Sweet Home had just finished the final of the 200-meter dash for the Federation title at the New York State Track and Field championships. He knew he was involved in a photo finish but didn't know how it turned out.

"I honestly had no idea," Davis said. "The guy from McQuaid, I thought he had gotten it ... until I heard all my friends cheering up in the standings."

How close was it? The Panthers' standout finished in a time of 21.55. That was one-hundredth of a second faster than Noah Williams of McQuaid and two-hundreds of a second faster than third-place finisher Carlon Hoston of I-Taft EC.

That was enough to make Davis the fastest man in the entire state at that distance.

"That sounds pretty good," he said of his new title. "That's what I wanted to get coming in. In the public school final, it wasn't exactly the best race. But I knew getting on lane six would give me a little bit of a push to do better."

Davis' win by an eyelash was the highlight for Western New York boys athletes on the second and final day of competition. Later in the day, he was part of a Sweet Home 4x100 relay team that also won a state championship.

Meanwhile, there was far less drama in the boys discus. Paul Kemsley of Lancaster was too good for everyone, taking the overall championship.

Davis had finished fourth in the Division I public school championships earlier Saturday. He was determined to do better the second time around, and he did so.

"I was much happier with my start," Davis said. "Coming out of the straightaway, I knew I had good acceleration and top-end speed. It worked out really well for me. I tried to keep myself in front and just hold it."

"He's been working on that lean at the finish line through the year," Panthers coach Brian Lombardo said. "Obviously when you're talking about a hundredth of a second, it makes a drastic difference."

By the way, Wayne Gordon of Sweet Home won the state title in the 100-meter dash in 2012 by the same margins over the second- and third-place finishers.

Later in the afternoon, Smith crossed the same finish line in first place again - but this time he had a little time to spare. The Panthers team of Anthony Williams, Eric Johnson, Thomas Rivera and Davis - all juniors - won the title in 41.66 seconds. That was good for a win by .14 seconds. Niagara Falls finished fifth.

"We ran slower today that we did yesterday, but we'll take it," said Williams, who ran the opening lap. "It was just a little rough on the hand-off.

"I told Nate in my head that he had to kick it" in the final 100 meters, "because we were down and we needed him. He came through."

Meanwhile, Kemsley said on Friday that he was looking forward to more good competition on the second day of the event. On a personal level, he didn't find it as he easily won the Federation championship.

"I threw 175 feet," he said. "I'm really happy with what happened today."

The senior had good reason to say that. He only completed one legal throw of the discus (there were three fouls), but it was exactly 10 feet better than anyone else.

It's been quite a year for the Legends standout, who is relatively new to the discipline.

"I pretty much started throwing the discus this year," he said. "I started practicing, and that became all I worked on.

"Last year I was ranked No. 374 in the state, and now I'm No. 1. I only threw 119 (feet) last year. It's gone up since then."

Kemsley will continue his track career and his education at Alfred State next season.

Several other athletes turned in top performances. Jeff Walter of St. Francis earned a second-place medal in the pentathlon.

"I think I'm a little lower than I was last year, which is disappointing," he said. "I did put up some big numbers in it during the season. But I'm happy how it went, considering the situation and conditions. It was a good year."

Treston White of Lockport finished sixth in the 400 Federation final. The senior enjoyed the great competition at this level.

"I was looking forward to coming here and being made to run," he said. "It was actually good. They helped me run well. I broke the Section VI record."

Elsewhere, Jon Surdej picked up a fifth in the shot put. Shevaughn Allen of JFK placed second in the triple jump. East Aurora's 4x800 relay team was fourth overall. Andrew Perrault of Lewiston-Porter was third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in Division II.

Earlier in the day, Jalin Cooper of Medina was fourth and Christian Snell of Alden was fifth in the Division II 200 final. Cooper came in fourth in the 100, as well.

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