By MICHAEL KELLY
ALBANY -- Officially, Izaiah Brown's state title defense is on the clock.
It took the Amsterdam High School junior only 47.62 seconds to win the 400-meter dash Thursday at Day 1 of the Section II outdoor track and field state qualifiers, as Brown clinched his spot in next week's state championships with ease.
"It's always cool to get to go to states," said Brown, who has already competed four times at the state level between indoor and outdoor track and field.
"Knowing the best competition is going to be there, and that it's all or nothing right there, it's exciting," he said. "It's going to be fun going out there again."
Brown will defend his state title at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, where the junior competed in 2012 as a freshman. There, Brown will likely enter as the No. 3 seed, a position which would allow the junior to have his top two competitors -- Boys and Girls' Richard Rose and Mount Vernon's Rai Benjamin -- staggered out in front of him right from the race's start.
"That's a good thing," said AHS head coach Kevin Wilary. "He's a chaser, and Izaiah's not going to let anyone get away from him."
Brown had little to chase Thursday. Saratoga Springs sophomore Rob Haughton finished in second place with a time of 49.13 seconds to also qualify for states, but Brown caught the runners staggered out ahead of him within the first 150 meters of the race.
"He took off on everybody," said Wilary. "He looked strong all the way through. I can't wait until next week when he has someone running in the 46s right next to him."
"I need someone to push me," said Brown. "I say that all the time, and that's what I need to get better times."
Brown said he is confident with states looming next week. The junior ran Thursday on limited sleep -- there's a big test at school today -- and he had a limited week of practice after spending the holiday weekend with family, but said he expects to be in top shape next week when he runs against the state's best.
"I'll be ready," he said.
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