By MICHAEL KELLY
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- Ignorance is bliss for the Amsterdam High School boys indoor track and field as it prepares for Sunday's Big 10 Championships.
Sunday's 9 a.m. meet at Williams College, in Williamstown, Mass., will be the first time all of the Big 10's clubs get together this winter for a joint competition. Such is the peculiar way of the indoor track and field season, leaving today's squads somewhat unsure of what their opponents will bring to the table.
But that is OK with the Rams -- last year's outdoor league champions --who are willing to take their chances against anyone.
"We're going in kind of blind, but we're confident with what we've got," senior Lucas Dorr said earlier this week.
That confidence mainly comes from two places. AHS knows it has an array of guaranteed points coming to it through junior Izaiah Brown -- the favorite in the 300-meter dash and the high jump -- and sophomore Omahri Sturdivant, who is a favorite in the long and triple jump events, but the Rams also think that points will come from all over their lineup.
"This year, we're a much deeper team," said AHS head coach Kevin Wilary. "But, as we've gotten better, Albany and CBA have gotten a lot better, too."
Those two squads are the ones Wilary said he thinks pose the most severe threat to the Rams, who finished in third place at these championships a year ago. Schenectady won the league's 2013 title.
The three squads each have a unique area of strength. Amsterdam should dominate in the mid-distance running events; Albany is a powerhouse in the sprints; and, CBA should sweep the distance events.
"We're going to have to be good where we're good, and they're going to have to be good where they're good," said Wilary. "It's going to be a shootout."
The Rams' wild card is their prowess in the field events, where AHS should be a force. Wilary said he is expecting all of his jumpers to score, led by Brown, Edgar Maldonado and Jose Perez in the high jump.
"If we can get as many points in the field events as possible, the distance events won't even matter," Perez said.
Perez is an especially critical piece for the Rams. While Sturdivant is the favorite in the triple jump, Perez will be the club's second entry in the event -- despite the fact he has only competed in the event one time. He said that he has spent a lot of time figuring out the event, though, and the Rams are confident Perez can deliver a top-six finish in the event.
"I've been doing a lot of research on how to do it right, really focusing on that one, because I've been doing the high jump for so long that it's instinctive what to do," said Perez. "In the triple jump, I did a lot of homework to get better."
Another key Ram could be David Graveley. The junior has increased his speed this winter and should be a top contender in the 55-meter hurdles, but Wilary said he could also see Graveley doing well enough in the 300-meter dash to steal the Rams an extra point or two.
"If he does that, that would be awesome for us," Wilary said.
For his part, Dorr will definitely compete in the 55-meter dash and long jump, while the versatile senior's third event is still up in the air.
"I could be put anywhere Coach wants me to go," Dorr said.
After last year's third-place finish, the Rams are hoping for more in 2014. Referencing an AHS track and field star from a couple years ago, Dorr said the Rams were heading to Sunday's championships with a single-minded focus.
"The goal is always to win," said Dorr. "If you don't win, you lose -- that's a Matt White (quote) right there, the wise words of Matt White."
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