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LI's Jack David wins 'American Ninja Warrior Junior'

Jack David of Huntington competed in "American Ninja

Jack David of Huntington competed in "American Ninja Warrior Junior" in Los Angeles last summer and won his age category. Credit: Universal Kids / Tyler Golden

Huntington's Jack David has won season 2 of "American Ninja Warrior Junior" in the age 11-12 category. The obstacle-course competition's finale aired Friday on Universal Kids.

"I never thought I would make it that far," David, who has turned 13 since the show was shot over four days in Los Angeles last summer, told Newsday on Sunday. It was a mild shock, he said, when his name was announced as the winner. "I was just happy,” he recalled. "There wasn't a lot going through my mind at the time," other than it felt like a dream. "I thought I was going to wake up right after that."

David, the younger of two children of J.P. David, a Melville-based regional sales coordinator for the insurance company Aflac, and Reina David, a speech therapist with Nassau BOCES, bested 11-year-old Nacssa Garemore of Ocala, Florida, in a squeaker by 14/100th of a second. At the medal ceremony, David dedicated his win to "my hometown [and] my school" — Stimson Middle School in Huntington Station. The win comes with a $15,000 prize.

His coach on the show, Grant McCartney from the flagship series "American Ninja Warrior," said, " 'Give me a high five.' He said, 'Dude, congratulations, you did amazing.' " One piece of advice McCartney had given the 5-foot-1 competitor "was, 'Y'know, you're pretty tall compared to most of these kids. Use your height as an advantage.' Height usually means you have a long wingspan [i.e. reach], and so on obstacles like the double-tilt ladder, I would skip a [rung]."

The hardest obstacle, he said, "had to be the block run," in which a competitor runs across large cubes mounted at different angles along a horizontal pole, and which can rotate under one's feet. "It's just the combination of speed and agility you need for that obstacle," he explained.

While David was visibly excited on the day of the shooting itself, he was less so, he said, months later at the viewing party at his home with his parents, his 16-year-old sister Emma and several friends, the pandemic notwithstanding. "As soon as they announced my name, they all just tackled me," he recalled happily. There was no Gatorade drenching, but "they did splash me with some water."

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