By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
There were no records broken or historic finishes for the foursome of athletes Amsterdam High School's track and field team sent to Sunday's New Balance Nationals Outdoor Championships in Greensboro, N.C.
"We didn't have our best time today," admitted AHS boys head coach Kevin Wilary. "But, you know what? ... We finished our season at nationals in the four-by-four relay, the last event of the day. That's a sweet feeling."
The Rams' relay of Izaiah Brown, John Hardies, Brett Stanavich and Anthony Stewart finished in 10th place in the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 3:20.84; earlier in the day, Brown, a sophomore, finished in ninth place as an individual in the 400-meter dash with a time of 47.69 seconds.
"It was an incredible experience," said Hardies. "Anytime you can run at a high level, you want to run with the best -- and they were here today."
Wilary said the weekend's experience was a magical one for the team. From getting to the facility at North Carolina A&T Saturday night to show the athletes the terrain for Sunday, Wilary said it was a whirlwind of a weekend.
"Watching the kids, that was what I enjoyed the most. The awe on their faces when they were watching the other athletes or even just when we got to the stadium," he said. "They were like: 'Wow, we're at the big time now.' It was awesome to be able to give the kids the opportunity to do this."
The Rams' booster club had helped to raise more than $3,000 from local businesses and citizens to send the four athletes, Wilary and assistant coach Jaime Julia to the championships. After experiencing the weekend, Wilary said his only regret was that all of the numerous people who donated money to the cause had not gotten to see the athletes' as they went through the experience.
"If everybody could have seen the looks on their faces, they'd know it was worth every penny," Wilary said.
In leading up to the event, Stewart had said the chance to go to nationals was a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. Speaking Sunday night, Stewart said the event had not let him down.
"It was the experience of a lifetime, you know?" he said. "Running was amazing and just to get this far was absolutely incredible. But to also get here and see everyone else run and be a part of it, it was incredible."
Earlier in the day, the Rams' had gotten to see a video sent to them of community members at the Recovery Sports Grill -- which played host to a viewing party of the races -- rooting for Brown during his individual event. A crowd packed the restaurant for both of the races, cheering wildly throughout the day for the athletes.
"That was pretty neat to see," said Hardies. "That's what it was all about: We wanted to come here and represent our community."
"It was really nice to have all that support," added Stanavich. "I'm glad our community gave us the support we needed to get here."
The day was sticky and hot in North Carolina, conditions that may have slightly hindered Brown in his event. Brown -- who ends his season with the fastest-recorded time in the 400-meter dash for a sophomore in the country, which was his 47.20-seconds effort to win last weekend's state championship -- said he simply could not get his body to go at the speed he wanted it to Sunday, as he finished second in his heat and ninth overall.
"I went out fine -- I felt perfect, I felt great -- but, come the last 200 (meters), the heat really struck me. ... My body, it felt like I was overheated and my body shut down," said Brown. "It was like I couldn't move."
"He just didn't quite have it in him today," said Wilary. "He didn't have his best day."
In keeping with the spirit of the experience, though, Brown said not being able to reach his goal of breaking the state's sophomore record did nothing to diminish his trip to nationals.
"Getting here and racing with the guys, it was overwhelming," he said, adding the chance to have teammates with him at the prestigious event made him "head-over-heels happy."
Now, the Rams -- minus Hardies, who is off to a college orientation today -- get a capper to the weekend: Before taking a mid-afternoon flight to Albany, a trip to a waterpark not far from the team's hotel is planned.
"Can't wait for that," Brown said.