By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- It has been a trying week to be Izaiah Brown.
With the last of his remaining teammates for the indoor track and field season bowing out following this past weekend's state qualifiers, the Amsterdam sophomore is all that's left for the Rams in advance of today's state championships at Cornell University.
That's made for one lonely teenage boy at practice this week.
"It's just been me," said Brown, Thursday. "The whole time. ... It's very awkward. I'm used to running with my friends and other kids, and getting to talk to them. Now, I'm running solo and it's awkward. I'll be running and I'll look over to talk to someone and, 'Oh -- nobody's there.'"
Instead, it has just been Brown and coach Kevin Wilary.
"It is difficult when you're a kid and you're social, to get ready by yourself," said Wilary. "Izaiah and me have a pretty good relationship, though, so it hasn't been that bad for him."
Brown is competing in today's 300-meter dash, an event which he qualified for last week at the University at Albany. In his qualifying victory, Brown turned in a time of 36.9 seconds, more than a full second better than the second-place finisher.
Heading into today's championships, it is tough to predict how Brown will fare. The sophomore enters the event as the No. 16 seed in the field, his best time this season nearly two seconds slower than the top-ranked Jon Alkins of Eastchester. But Brown has two things going in his favor.
First off, looking at the times of competitors in indoor events is not totally reliable. The quality of the track surfaces varies from one event to another, affecting a runner's time, as does the track shape -- for instance, most of Amsterdam's races this season have come at tracks with sharp turns.
"When he goes around each of those turns, because those turns are so sharp, he's slowing down," Wilary said.
Today's meet at Cornell will take place on a track with more rounded curves than most of the tracks Brown has raced on this season. Of the tracks Brown has raced on this season, Wilary said the terrain at Cornell is most similar to the one at Williams College -- where Brown turned in his best time of the season.
"He was really sick that day, too," Wilary said.
Second of all, Brown's best time this season suffered not only because of his illness, but also -- perhaps -- because Section II lacks the high-quality competition needed to fully challenge Brown.
"In Section II, Izaiah is considerably better than everyone else," said Wilary. "So, you don't always know if he's going his hardest. .... I can't wait until I see someone push him. When he runs against the best, he brings his best."
Brown will get that chance today, but he also had it this past June when he qualified for the state championships in the outdoor season in the 400-meter dash. In that race, Brown injured his leg and finished in a disappointing sixth place, but the sophomore said he did not look at today's championships as a chance to atone for last year's missed chance.
"I'm always happy with what I run. I'm never really disappointed," he said. "I give it my all and try to feel good about it."
Instead, today's goal is a simple one for Brown.
"Show everyone what I can do," he said.