By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- After its best season in a long while, the Amsterdam Rams outdoor track and field team is ready for an encore.
"We're definitely winning the Big 10 again this year," says senior sprinter Brett Stanavich. "That's our goal."
The Rams' goals reach further than that, though. While Amsterdam's Big 10 title from a year ago was the program's first since 1994, head coach Kevin Wilary says his team's sights are set on a sectional crown, which would be a first for the Rams.
"With the depth we have," says Wilary, "I honestly think we can be better than we were last year."
That depth will be needed. While the Rams feature a bevy of talented returning performers from a year ago -- highlighted by sophomore Izaiah Brown, who enters this spring coming off a state championship victory in the 300-meter dash in the indoor season -- Amsterdam needs to make up for the loss of Matt White, who graduated in 2012 after turning in a spectacular all-around season that ended with a second-place finish at the state championships in the pentathlon.
"Forty-four points a meet," says Wilary. "That's what we have to make up from losing Matt."
That total refers to White's usual total accrued in dual Big 10 meets, as the then-senior typically garnered first-place finishes in four events a year ago. But Wilary says he already has it mostly figured out how this year's Rams can replace the points White's presence guaranteed them: In the 200-meter dash, Wilary plans to replace White with Brown; in the 4x100-meter relay, senior Chris Rost is likely to substitute in for White; and, in the high jump, both Brown and Rost are the likely replacements.
The one problem area for the Rams in replacing White comes in the 110-meter hurdles. Wilary has pegged sophomore David Graveley and senior Connor Kilgallen as the likely fill-ins for that event, but both are still works in progress when it comes to the hurdles.
"It's just hard to replace someone who was doing a 14.9 (seconds)," says Wilary. "But they're getting there."
Despite the advance planning, the season's early meets and invitationals will help figure out the Rams' lineup. Amsterdam heads to Fonda Thursday for a steeplechase-and-pentathlon event, with the Rams' league meets starting the following week.
"We're almost to that first meet," says Pete Lomanto, a first-year athlete for the team. "That's coming up, so it's getting pretty exciting."
Once the Rams get going, they will be able to show off the work they've put in during the preseason, which -- for some -- means the opportunity to participate in brand-new events. For most, that means trying out a race of a different distance or a new jumping event, but it means something quite different for Lucas Dorr. To take advantage of his muscular build, Wilary is toying around with the idea to use the junior in the shot put. Previously, Dorr had mostly participated in sprints, leaving the junior to admit that his early forays into the new event had been met with uneven results.
"My technique is sloppy right now," he says. "I need to learn from the best and get better."
Dorr says his first attempts at the event resulted in him simply "spinning and spinning" around, as he was not able to get the awkward motion down pat. Of course, at the time Dorr was being so hard on himself, he had one full day of practice trying the event.
"Oh, yesterday," is his reply when asked Tuesday when he first tried the new event.
Moving forward, that attempt to disperse the Rams' talent throughout the lineup should pay dividends for the club as it attempts to build on last season's success.
"I like the depth we have this year," says Stanavich. "We have three or four people running in every event. We have a lot of young guys, a good base, and I think we're all going to contribute."