By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
ITHACA — In his preliminary race at Saturday’s indoor track and field state championships, Amsterdam High School’s Izaiah Brown was spectacular.
Then, his championship race was even better.
Competing in the 300-meter dash at Cornell University, the Ram twice set the sophomore state record in the event — and breezed to the state title.
“We had a feeling he was going to do it,” Amsterdam boys head coach Kevin Wilary said.
Brown completed the championship race in 34.38 seconds, well ahead of William Floyd’s Diamonte Corley’s second-place time of 34.68. Brown’s time was .32 seconds faster than his time in his preliminary race, which had eclipsed the previous best time for a sophomore in New York by .2 seconds.
Brown knew the record heading into the meet, saying that he had previously tried to break the mark this season — but to no avail.
“I had tried to break it earlier in the season, but I couldn’t get it,” Brown said.
When he crossed the finish line for the first time Saturday, he was ecstatic to see his time.
“I had no clue at all (what my time was going to be),” said Brown. “When I hit the finish line, I saw the big clock and a ‘34’ — and was like, ‘Whoa — I just broke the sophomore state record.’”
After a quick session of jumping around in excitement and hugs with his cheering section, Brown quickly turned his focus to preparing for the finals.
“I told him he had to go get it in the finals,” Wilary said.
“I was pumped and ready to go,” Brown said.
But nerves set in just before the start of the race, which included Eastchester’s Jon Alkins, last year’s champion in the event. Even though Brown’s preliminary time was nearly a half-second faster than the second-fastest runner, the sophomore from the Rug City knew the finals were a different animal.
“Anything could happen at that point,” Brown said.
But what happened was Brown broke his own sophomore state record, as the Ram dominated the championship race.
“It was so exhilarating,” Brown said.
Along with Brown, Wilary heaped praise on several other parties for the day’s success. The team’s many coaches — Maura Dargush, Amanda Davey, Joe Hart, Jaime Julia and Stu Palczak — who all helped out on a volunteer basis for the Rams’ inaugural indoor season, as well as people in the Greater Amsterdam School District administration — like athletic director Randy Hutto, superintendent Tom Perillo and director of secondary instruction Susan Stoya — who helped green-light the indoor track and field program for AHS this winter.
“Without this program getting started and support from everywhere, the success of this team would have never happened,” Wilary said.
Of course, Brown’s talent and enthusiasm was the driving force behind the big win — and the sophomore’s ambition was on full display Saturday afternoon.
“What’s the junior state record?” Wilary said was Brown’s response to setting the sophomore record.