Michael Kelly/Recorder staff The Amsterdam 4x400-meter relay team of, left to right, David Graveley, Andrew Druziak, Julian Gallup and Izaiah Brown, poses after its first-place finish during Friday's Section II outdoor track and field state qualifiers in Albany.
By MICHAEL KELLY
ALBANY -- The Amsterdam High School boys 4x400-meter relay team had to wait around for roughly six hours at the University at Albany before getting to run its race at Friday's Section II outdoor track and field state qualifiers.
The wait was worth it.
For the third time in the last calendar year, the Rams relay squad is heading to the state championships, as this year's foursome of juniors Izaiah Brown, Andrew Druziak, David Graveley and senior Julian Gallup won Friday's large-school race with a season-best time of 3 minutes, 20.31 seconds.
"All of them ran their races," said AHS head coach Kevin Wilary. "They were a bit slower than recently (as individuals), but being outside all day, the delays, the wet track and the cold hurt. I think we'll have a nice week of practice and we'll be prepared to run a faster time at states."
Saratoga Springs finished in second place with a time of 3 minutes, 21.69 seconds, while Albany came in third with a mark of 3 minutes, 22.81 seconds.
The meet included a storm delay of more than an hour, and when the rain subsided, so did several degrees of warmth.
"This weather was terrible," said Druziak. "The waiting killed us, too. I think we could have run better if we'd ran earlier."
The Rams spent most of the day trying to kill time without expending too much energy, though the club also spent time hanging out with rival athletes.
"We were just relaxing, keeping off our feet, and going inside to keep warm," said Brown. "We'd come out every now and then to do quick stretches and strides -- and, we also had fun."
"We just tried to keep them relaxed and told them that they were the team to beat," Wilary said.
The Rams -- who made it to states last year in outdoor, plus earlier this year in indoor -- proved their coach right. Graveley ran a solid first lap, Druziak moved the Rams from third place to second, Gallup kept the Rams within a few meters of Albany and Saratoga -- and then, like usual, Brown played the role of closer to perfection, bringing the Rams from third place to an easy first.
The state's reigning champion in the 400-meter dash was clocked at 46.4 seconds Friday for his split. The race was the third consecutive relay in which Brown split at 46.4 seconds or better.
"It's like you have cheat codes," joked one Albany runner to Brown after the race.
Now, the Rams will head to Cicero-North Syracuse High School for next week's state championships. There, three of the Rams -- Brown, Gallup and Graveley -- will compete as individuals, but the athletes' top goal is bringing home a relay title.
Preferably, that goal will be met with a time better than 3 minutes, 20.0 seconds. If the Rams do that, the AHS boys will qualify for the national championships for a second year in a row.
"We can take it out harder and get the qualification time for nationals again," said Brown. "We're gunning for it."
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