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Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Amsterdam, NY ,

Michael Kelly/Recorder staff
Members of the Amsterdam High School Rams pose after winning the team title at Saturday's Eddy Meet in Schenectady.

Michael Kelly/Recorder staff
Members of the Amsterdam High School 4x400-meter relay team pose after winning at Saturday's Eddy Meet in Schenectady. Shown, from left, are: Edgar Maldonado, Andrew Druziak, David Graveley and Izaiah Brown.

Michael Kelly/Recorder staff
Amsterdam's Omahri Sturdivant competes in the long jump at Saturday's Eddy Meet in Schenectady.

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Rams dedicate Eddy Meet win to Flowers

Sunday, May 18, 2014 - Updated: 10:22 AM

By MICHAEL KELLY

michael.kelly@recordernews.com

SCHENECTADY — Before the 2014 season started, winning the William F. Eddy Jr. Track and Field Meet was a major goal for the Amsterdam High School Rams.

But by the time Saturday’s meet came around, winning the event had taken on more meaning than simply repeating as champions at the 74th running of the prestigious invitational that draws athletes from all along the East Coast to Schenectady High School’s Larry Mulvaney Field

“We’d talked about it, and we wanted to win the Eddy Meet for Mike Flowers,” AHS head coach Kevin Wilary said.

Flowers, a 2011 AHS graduate, passed away six days before this year’s Eddy Meet. The Rams’ recent surge as a program began with Flowers, who scored at the venerable meet and also made it to the 2011 state championships in the 200-meter dash.

“Everyone looked up to him,” AHS junior David Graveley said.

“I still can’t believe he passed away,” AHS sophomore Edgar Maldonado said.

Saturday, the day of Flowers’ memorial services, the Rams honored their former star with a dominant performance at the Eddy Meet, which AHS ran away with to win in a rout. The Rams accrued 50 points, 18 more than second-place Guilderland.

Junior Izaiah Brown was named the Male Athlete of the Meet after winning the 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash and long jump. Also for Amsterdam, senior Julian Gallup compiled individual points in the long jump with a fourth-place finish and sophomore Omahri Sturdivant collected a third-place finish in the triple jump.

The Rams’ 4x400-meter relay team of Brown, junior Andrew Druziak, Graveley and Maldonado also was a winner for the Rams.

While the Rams got off to a strong start in the morning with the jumping events, momentum clearly shifted to AHS in the early afternoon with the 200-meter dash. Right before the race was set to start, a moment of silence was held in memory of Flowers before his signature event.

Wilary said that another coach at the meet had approached him with the idea to honor Flowers. The AHS coach had kept the offer to himself, though, leaving the call for a moment of silence for Flowers as a surprise to the team’s athletes.

It floored them.

“I was surprised when they did that,” said Druziak. “I thought that was really nice.”

“We were so much more motivated after that,” Maldonado said.

Brown responded after the pause before his race with a virtuoso performance, winning the event going away.

“I wanted to do it for Mike,” Brown said.

Most of the Rams on this year’s team were not close friends with Flowers because of the age gap between him and them, but Flowers’ dominant 2011 season made him into a role model for the youngsters that are now the veterans of this year’s Rams.

“He was the one that started everything for us,” Graveley said.

That’s why the Rams made sure to finish Saturday’s meet strong in honor of Flowers. Before the 4x400-meter relay — the day’s final event — Brown, Druziak, Graveley and Maldonado formed a huddle and said a prayer to Flowers, each with a hand on their baton. The Rams said their pre-race prayer thanked Flowers for helping to inspire them, and let him know that the upcoming race was dedicated to him.

Graveley ran the Rams’ opening leg, bursting out to a lead and holding off all challengers before handing off to Druziak.

“The whole time I was running, I was just thinking about trying to be like [Flowers],” said Graveley. “He never gave up, always was strong, and always finished as hard as he could.”

So did Graveley, playing out his Flowers impression to the tune of turning in a season-best split of 51.80 seconds.

Next up, Druziak delivered a solid lap and handed off to Maldonado in a virtual tie with the team from Albany that had defeated the Rams earlier in the week. The sophomore was unable to get the baton to Brown with a lead, but Maldonado — in the race as an alternate — stayed close enough for the Rams’ vaunted anchor to seal the deal.

“Edgar had a 52 split and that’s by far the best he’s ever done,” said Wilary. “He put us in position to win.”

Brown finished the race in a remarkable split of 46.40 seconds, helping the Rams to a time of 3 minutes, 21.84 seconds — their top mark this season and the No. 4 time in the state.

“We knew Mike was looking down upon us and helping us,” Brown said.

“That’s the reason we ran that time,” Maldonado said.

The Rams ended up not needing the relay win to seal the team victory, but the final race served as an exclamation mark on the team’s performance.

In the past three years, the club has now won two consecutive team titles at the Eddy Meet, three Big 10 championships and a smattering of invitationals.

“But it never gets old, at all,” said Brown. “The Amsterdam track team, we’re a big family and we strive for the best for each other.”

That includes Flowers, too.

“He’s still part of the track team, part of the family,” Brown said.

Follow MICHAEL KELLY on Twitter at twitter.com/RecorderMK

     

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