Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Broadalbin-Perth's Devin Page, left, and Pierre LaPort wait together before the shot put competition during Saturday's CBA/La Salle Relays at the University at Albany.
Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Amsterdam's Julian Gallup competes in the long jump relay during Saturday's CBA/La Salle Relays at the University at Albany.
Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Albany's James Willard, left, and Amsterdam's Izaiah Brown are shown competing in the 200-meter dash during Saturday's CBA/La Salle Relays at the University at Albany.
By MICHAEL KELLY
ALBANY -- During the winter indoor season, the Amsterdam High School track and field team had a simple approach when it came to the 4x400-meter relay: Keep it close, then get the baton to junior Izaiah Brown to finish the job.
Saturday, at the University at Albany for the CBA/La Salle Relays, the Rams showed that idea is outdated when it comes to the outdoor season. The AHS 4x400-meter relay team of Brown, seniors Jared and Julian Gallup, and junior David Graveley easily won the event in a meet-record time of 3 minutes, 28.40 seconds. The Rams' relay -- which went to the indoor state championships this winter -- won its race by more than four seconds and its first three legs combined to send Brown out just a step away from first place.
"That whole concept of just keeping it close is over," Julian Gallup said.
As a team, the Rams had a banner day, finishing in second place to Guilderland, 114-92, and fielding several individual athletes that had the top times or marks in their relay events.
The combination of the strong start from the pre-Brown relay runners and the numbers of individual Rams that excelled Saturday should serve as a notice to the rest of Section II, AHS head coach Kevin Wilary said.
"People constantly say to us -- I've heard it many times -- that we have one superstar (Brown) and some OK kids," he said. "But we're showing people that ... we have fantastic kids on this team and it's not just about one guy. That guy (Brown) is a superstar, but these other guys are working hard and are some of the best athletes in Section II."
Besides the 4x400-meter relay event, the Rams also won the long jump relay and Brown won the 200-meter dash in a meet-record time of 22.36 seconds. Senior Lucas Dorr, Julian Gallup and sophomore Cam Thomas made up the long jump team, with Gallup posting the day's best mark with a leap of 20 feet, 1.75 inches.
In the 440-meter hurdles relay, the Rams finished in second place with a team of Graveley, senior Alonzo Martin, sophomore Edgar Maldonado and junior Roberto Piniero. In that relay, Graveley's time of 16.82 seconds was the best individual mark; Graveley also ran the best 400-meter hurdles time, finishing that race in 57.65 seconds.
Brown posted the day's best mark in the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 4 inches, as he led a team that included sophomore Edgar Maldonado and junior Jose Perez to a second-place finish in that event.
"We're expecting to get better each week and keep building off this," said Julian Gallup. "This is just the start for us."
The Broadalbin-Perth boys also competed at the event and finished in seventh place. Leading the way for B-P were the team's throwers, as the Patriots won both the shot put and discus throw relays. Senior Pierre LaPort led both relays, finishing first overall in the discus throw (113 feet, 0 inches) and second in the shot put (41 feet, 5 inches). With LaPort on the shot put team were seniors Doug Sutter and Tim Zukas; on the discus throw team were LaPort, junior Rick Wallace and Zukas.
Greg Bogdan also excelled for head coach Jeff Richards' squad, as the senior finished in second place in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4 minutes, 41.71 seconds.
Still, the coach said that Saturday's event was mostly an important one for the Patriots because it gave the club's younger members a chance to display their skills.
"Our younger kids got experience that they needed," said Richards. "From that perspective, this was a good day for us."
The Rams found the relays helpful for that same reason, too. The club received spirited efforts from sophomores Gabe Fernandez, Jonathan Knack, Bryan Stanavich and Omahri Sturdivant, as well as freshman AJ Mercado, who was a member of the Rams' 4x400-meter relay "B" team that finished in fifth place with a time of 3 minutes, 45.63 seconds.
That relay team -- which, besides Mercado, included Fernandez, Maldonado and Stanavich -- showed off the Rams' depth in the event. Seven of the AHS 400-meter runners posted times in the 55-seconds range or better, while Mercado was in the 57-seconds range.
Mercado had never run a 400-meter race before Saturday -- "So, I thought I was going to do horrible," he said, smiling -- but left his teammates and coach impressed.
"For someone who has never run a 400 before, that's an impressive time," said Wilary, who has voiced excitement about Mercado -- primarily a distance runner -- several times this season.
The combination of the 4x400-meter relay teams' showings and the overall effort from the Rams at their first invitational was a welcome result after several weeks of training this season.
"The hard work is starting to show," Julian Gallup said.
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