Recorder file photo Amsterdam's Izaiah Brown competes in the 400-meter dash during a 2012 meet in the town of Amsterdam.
By MICHAEL KELLY
For the first time ever, Nike is conducting a camp at its headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. to help train 20 of the best male and female prep sprinters in the country. The camp, which starts Wednesday, is invitation-only, and is designed to grant access from world-class coaches to the country's future top sprinters for five days.
And, Amsterdam's Izaiah Brown will be in attendance.
The four-time state champion and twice-reigning champion in the 400-meter dash, Brown received his invitation to the camp a month ago and has elected to attend. The brand-name company pays for the travel for the athletes to go out to Nike World Headquarters, which Brown will venture to alone.
Brown, about to be a senior at Amsterdam High School, said earlier this week that he was surprised when he found out about the camp.
"This is really cool. I was shocked," said Brown. "I didn't know they did anything like this, for one thing, and, two, they only choose specific athletes, so it's an honor."
Athletes for the camp -- officially known as "Nike Sprint Elite Camp" -- were selected via a panel of experts from across the country. After his performances this spring at the state and national championships -- where he recorded 2014's No. 1 known split in the 4x400-meter relay for a prep runner of 45.16 seconds -- Brown was already on the radar of national talent evaluators; earlier this summer, Brown had been approached to gauge his interest in attempting to qualify to represent Team USA at the IAAF World Junior Championships, but he had declined to make the trip at that point to Oregon.
But, for one reason or another, heading out West hit Brown right this time.
"I just felt like I really wanted to go," he said. "This is definitely special. I've never even really done a running camp in the summer before."
AHS head coach Kevin Wilary said the best thing about this trip for Brown is the chance for the 17-year-old to experience a new place -- especially with college coaches from across the country recruiting him.
"He needs to see what is out there for him," Wilary said.
Besides his state championships in the 400-meter dash, Brown also was the state champion in the 300-meter dash in 2013 and ran the anchor leg for the Rams' title-winning entry in the 4x400-meter relay this past spring, a team which also included Andrew Druziak, Julian Gallup and David Graveley.
Brown is also an eight-time outdoor track and field event champion in Section II, as well as the section's record holder in the 400-meter dash (46.61 seconds) and with his 4x400-meter relay teammates (3 minutes, 17.03 seconds). The Rams star is also either his school's sole or joint record holder in five events.
Often, Wilary has lamented that Brown's achievements could be more impressive if the AHS athlete had a realistic competitor in Section II. The chance for Brown to head to a camp where he will have multiple elite 400-meter runners to compete alongside should help the city resident see how fast he can push himself.
"He's going to have kids that can really run with him," said Wilary. "That's one thing he never has really had the chance to do. He's never run a workout with a kid that can run a 46 or a 47."
For the past month, Brown has had college coaches coming after him for his post-AHS services. During those conversations, Brown has primarily been listening to recruiters from schools such as the University of Michigan and UCLA, but next week's camp will allow Brown the chance to take advantage of some early tutelage from elite coaching.
"He's going to get the chance to pick the brains of some of the top coaches in the country," Wilary said.
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