Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Amsterdam High School's Izaiah Brown crosses the finish line in first place during the 400-meter dash Friday at the outdoor track and field state championships at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in Cicero. Behind Brown is Taft EC's Mohamed Kouyate.
Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Amsterdam High School's Izaiah Brown, center, stands atop the podium following the 400-meter dash Friday at the outdoor track and field state championships at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in Cicero. At left is Washingtonville's TJ Santiago; at right is Greece Athena's Calvary Rogers.
By MICHAEL KELLY
CICERO -- Looking strong and composed, Amsterdam High School's Izaiah Brown breezed Friday to his second consecutive New York State Public High School Athletic Association state championship in the 400-meter dash.
"It's a great feeling," said Brown. "Two years ago, I hurt myself here, and now I'm back and I redeemed myself."
A late-race injury in 2012's state championships -- also at Cicero-North Syracuse High School -- is likely all that kept Brown's win Friday from being his third consecutive Division 1 boys public school state title. In Brown's three-year high school career, that 2012 race at C-NS is the only 400-meter dash Brown has ever lost while competing in New York.
Brown won Friday's race with a season-best time of 47.57 seconds, easily besting second-place finisher TJ Santiago, a junior from Washingtonville. Santiago needed 48.88 seconds to complete the course.
"Izaiah made it look easy," said AHS head coach Kevin Wilary. "You didn't see any struggle on his face."
Putting it best Friday was Lynbrook junior Luke Germanakos, who entered the race as the No. 2 seed.
"Nothing you can say about that," said Germanakos, while shaking Brown's hand after the race.
"You just flew, man," continued Germanakos. "Nice job."
Germanakos ended up finishing in 13th place with a time of 50.90 seconds. As the No. 2 seed, the Lynbrook junior started his race staggered directly in front of Brown, and Germanakos said the Ram's presence affected his race.
"I knew he was going to go out fast, so I wanted to do what I could," said Germanakos. "Having him behind me at the beginning, it really put me out quick -- but I couldn't hang with him."
For the second year in a row, nobody in New York could keep up with Brown. The win came in such a matter-of-fact manner that AHS girls head coach Stu Palczak said it was easy for an outsider to take Brown's win for granted.
"But when you're close to it and you see how hard all the kids work, and how talented everyone is, you don't just expect to win," said Palczak. "When you win a state championship for the second time, it's a fantastic accomplishment.
"That's just not something everyone can do," added Palczak. "The landscape is full of guys that had great races throughout the year, but aren't here today."
"We don't want to make this like it isn't a big deal," said Wilary. "This is huge; we won a state title."
Brown -- who will compete today at C-NS in the federation finals for an overall state championship -- later anchored the Rams' 4x400-meter relay to a fourth-place finish, contributing a blistering split of 46.23 seconds. The relay team will also run again today in the federation finals.
The AHS junior, who now has three career state titles between the indoor and outdoor seasons, said that Friday's dash was not an easy one. He said his legs were a little tight for his race and that the terrain was unforgiving, causing his feet to burn during the race's final 100 meters.
Not helping Brown's ease of path, too, was that most of his competitors stayed with him through roughly the first 250 meters.
"I could hear them," said Brown. "It sounded like they were right there."
But, quickly, they were not, as Brown used the next 50 meters to build a cushion that never looked uncomfortable down the stretch.
The turnaround will be quick for Brown, but the AHS junior enters today's federation title race as an overwhelming favorite. His main challenger should be Taft EC senior Mohamed Kouyate, who ran a time of 48.29 seconds Friday, but did not count in the public school standings.
With another race against the state's best, Brown's coach said the junior's best could still be yet to come.
"There are a lot of great competitors here, so hopefully he can push even harder," Wilary said.
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