ITHACA — He entered the competition as the favorite, and left it as a champion.
Williamsville South junior Devon Patterson had a top shot put effort of 60 feet, 1 inch to capture first place in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships at Cornell University’s Barton Hall.
Section VI had two other public school state champions and both from the same school - senior Jenn Thill in the pole vault and freshman Ashley Grazen in the 55 dash from Lancaster. The top seeded Thill cleared 12 feet, 6 inches while Grazen ran a blazing 7.21.
Patterson, who holds the Section record at 64-4¾, led a 1-2 sweep by the locals. Lancaster junior Brandon Sicurella took the silver with a throw of 55-½.
“It feels great,” said Patterson, whose best throw this year was 64-4¾. “I came in here a little nervous, but once I got my first throw in, it all went uphill and I just did what I had to do.”
In the boys’ 1,600 meters, Lake Shore junior T.J. Hornberger recovered from early difficulties to finish second behind senior Nick Ryan of middle-distance factory Fayetteville-Manlius. Ryan won the race in 4:14.02, with Hornberger finishing in a personal-best 4:17.24.
“I got boxed in a little bit at the beginning of the race, but I tried to stay calm and do the best I could,” said Hornberger, whose previous best was 4:19. His qualifying time was 4:20.52. “It’s kind of hard [to stay calm] but after running so many high-level races, you get kind of used to the stress during races.”
Senior Andy Smigiera of West Seneca East placed third among public-school competitors (sixth overall) in the 55-meter dash, running a 6.61 in the final but setting a personal best in the preliminaries with a 6.56.
Christopher Belcher of Sayville (Section XI) won the final in 6.35.
Alex Reid of Lockport placed third in the long jump with a best leap of 22-2¼, missing a silver medal by a quarter-inch.
Section VI finished seventh among public high schools, eighth in Federation scoring. Section XI (Suffolk County) was the team champion in both.
GIRLS: Thill, who missed on three pole vault attempts at 13 feet, outlasted Karmen Auble of Warsaw (Section V), who finished second at 12-3.
Thill, who is headed to the University at Buffalo, said she felt strong on her last two attempts at 13 feet.
“I thought I had it on the last two, but I’m happy with 12-6,” said Thill, whose qualifying jump of 12-8 ranks seventh in the nation.
She is heading to nationals next week at The Armory in New York, “so I’m really excited for that.”
Junior Marissa Saenger of Clarence battled to a third-place finish in the 3,000 meters.
A third Section VI athlete, sophomore McKayla Brooks of Frontier, won a medal in the shot put, where she placed second with a heave of 37-9¼. Brooks earlier competed in the 55-meter dash, but did not advance to the finals.
McKenzie Kuehlewind of Lancaster and Jaskiran Dhaliwall of Grand Island placed third and fourth, respectively, in shot put.