Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Amsterdam's David Graveley competes in the 400-meter hurdles during Thursday's Big 10 meet in Albany.
Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Members of the Amsterdam High School boys outdoor track and field team are shown Thursday in Albany after winning the Big 10 title. Shown, from left, are: Ryan Kamanu, Derek Rabideau, Tim Kline, Omahri Sturdivant, Andrew Druziak, Tyrell Smith, Jacob Halle, Sullivan Fitz-James, Lucas Dorr, Jonathan Knack, Alezey Rivera, Edgar Maldonado, Alex Brittain, Austin Brock, Alex Stewart, Alonzo Martin, Chris Velazquez, Ryan Farley, AJ Mercado, David Graveley, Gehrig Garner, Jorge Rivera, Gabe Fernandez, Izaiah Brown, Aris Nieuwkerk, Frankie Perez and Jose Perez.
By MICHAEL KELLY
ALBANY -- A couple seasons ago, the Amsterdam High School boys outdoor track and field team claimed its Big 10 title had earned them legitimacy as a program.
But Thursday's sweep against Albany and Troy clinched the Rams a third consecutive league title and showed how improved Amsterdam is from just a couple years back.
The Rams blew past Albany (108-69) and Troy (121-58) despite missing several key cogs from their lineup, a far cry from their title run in 2012 when everything had to go just right for them to pull off winning the school's first league championship since 1994.
"This one is all about depth," said Amsterdam head coach Kevin Wilary. "We have a lot of athletes joining our team now, and this shows we're deep and that Amsterdam track is expected to be good now."
Six AHS competitors won at least one solo event Thursday -- and senior standouts Lucas Dorr (injury) and Julian Gallup (baseball) were not included in that number. Instead, the Rams received four wins from junior Izaiah Brown (100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash, high jump); a pair from sophomore Omahri Sturdivant (long jump, triple jump); and, one each from junior David Graveley (400-meter hurdles), junior Andrew Druziak (800-meter run), senior Giacamo Lanzi (shot put) and Jose Perez (discus throw).
The Rams' teams in the 4x400-meter and 4x800-meter relays also won. Making up the 4x400-meter relay team were Druziak, sophomore Gabe Fernandez, Graveley and sophomore Edgar Maldonado; the 4x800-meter relay team consisted of Druziak, Fernandez, sophomore Jonathan Knack and freshman AJ Mercado.
Brown -- who recorded career victory No. 100 Thursday -- said he had some doubts about this year's squad when the season started. After a dominant 2013 season, Brown said he thought it would be tough for the 2014 group to measure up -- but, right now, the Rams are well on their way to doing just that.
"This year's team is just phenomenal," said Brown. "I love it."
The Rams' depth showed in more ways that just first-place finishes. While only Druziak's and Fernandez's finishes in the 800-meter run counted for AHS, Amsterdam's Mercado and junior Alex Stewart were the next two across the finish line in that race, giving the Rams the race's top four finishers. Meanwhile, in the 3,200-meter run, freshman Tim Kline registered his first scoring contribution for the Rams in their final Big 10 dual meet before leaving in 2014 for the Foothills Council.
"It's pretty cool to get to help in our last dual meet in the Big 10 and to help us win," Kline said.
Maldonado said it was no surprise to the Rams to see teammates stepping up in the absence of several key performers.
"Everyone's progressively getting better throughout the season because everyone wants to be on top," he said.
Now, the Rams will begin to turn their attention to the championship portion of their season. Next week, AHS has the Big 10 Championships and the prestigious William F. Eddy Jr. Track and Field Meet; then, the club's athletes have sectionals, state qualifiers and -- hopefully -- the state championships.
While significant goals are yet to be reached for this year's Rams, Graveley said Thursday was a special day for the Amsterdam program, the current dynasty of Big 10 track and field.
"This is three years strong," said Graveley. "We really wanted to get this."
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