By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- After spending so much time together during the past few weeks and with one final weekend together looming, Amsterdam High School track and field's Brett Stanavich says the foursome of Izaiah Brown, John Hardies, Anthony Stewart and himself are "very sick of each other."
A split-second later, Stanavich smiles.
"Nah, just kidding," he says.
"We're actually all becoming a really good group of friends," Stewart adds.
The four athletes will compete Sunday at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor Championships in Greensboro, N.C. in the 4x400-meter relay, while Brown will also compete in the 400-meter dash after winning the event at the state championships this past weekend.
Since most of the Rams' season came to an end a few weeks ago, the members of the foursome have mostly been by themselves at practice for a while now. Rather than getting on each others' nerves, the three seniors and sophomore say the extra time together has been well worth it.
"These are my last times with these guys and they've been here for me for two years," says Brown, the sophomore. "I'm going to miss them next year, so I've been trying to savor each moment with these guys. ... None of us are sick of each other at all. If anything, our bond is growing stronger."
So, too, is the competition. The Rams' relay enters Sunday's race as the seventh seed, while Brown enters as the No. 9 seed in his individual event. The chance to get to run against some of the country's top prep athletes has the group ready to go. Hardies says he is most looking forward to the Rams' races, but also wants to take some time to check out other competitions at the event.
"Whatever we can catch, it's going to be very sweet to see," Hardies says.
The Rams will fly to North Carolina today and plan to get in a light workout this evening once they've landed. Then, competitions begin Sunday for the group with various goals in mind.
For the Rams' relay, a new top time is the goal.
"Our major goal is to run faster than we have, so another school record," AHS boys head coach Kevin Wilary says.
The 2013 Rams' 4x400-meter relay already holds the school record. Wilary says the goal for Sunday is a time in the three-minutes-17-seconds range, which would also put the relay in contention to break the Section II record in the event.
For Brown, the goal is an even better personal-best time. The sophomore just ran his best-ever time at last weekend's state championships in Middletown, a time of 47.20 seconds that is the top time for a sophomore in the country this spring. The sophomore state record is 46.97 seconds, and that's the time Brown has his sights on.
"Sophomore state record," is his simple answer to a question about his goal for the weekend.
Sunday's 400-meter dash should be an interesting one, as Brown is scheduled to run as the top seed in the second-fastest heat for the day. There is a chance Brown could move into the top heat if a runner drops out, but, either way, Brown enters a race at this distance for the first time in more than a year as a non-favorite.
"Yes, he's probably going to lose," says Wilary. "Izaiah's shocked me a lot, though. I'm not saying he's going to win, but I think he's going to do something very special."
One way or another, the Rams expect this weekend to be a special one. Brown qualified for the national championships more than a month ago, but the relay team only just achieved the mark needed to get them there a couple of weeks ago. While Brown has a couple more years left of high school track and field to accomplish new things, the road ends Sunday for the three seniors, none of which are planning on competing in college.
"But I can say I made it to nationals (for my last race)," says Stanavich. "Not too many people can say that."
"This is going to be the experience of a lifetime," says Stewart. "It's going to be a ton of fun."