Amsterdam’s Izaiah Brown watched as South Glens Falls High School’s Connor Kuebler jumped over the high bar, then Brown threw both hands in the air. It wasn’t because he had just won the event, but because he had to jump again. He had to clear five foot and eleven inches. Brown did that easily on his first try. Kuebler tried valiantly to keep up, but after three tries couldn’t clear the height. Then, on a cool, windy, Tuesday afternoon at Amsterdam High School when the Amsterdam boys track and field team had already wrapped up an undefeated first season in the Foothills Council with a 93.6- 47.3 win over the Bulldogs in the crossover championship, Brown told his teammates to set the bar at six foot, seven and three-quarters inches. Despite a respiratory ailment that had bothered him for the past week, Brown once again attempted to break his uncle’s school record of 6′ 7.5” in the high jump.
On the first and second tries Brown tipped the bar early into his jump and it fell to the mat. Brown focused harder for the third and last try of his career at the Rams home track. Brown’s stride lengthened as he headed for the bar, and went into his jump. For a moment it looked as if he had cleared it, but at the last second Brown’s leg again tipped the bar and it fell.
“This has been kicking me,” Brown said referring to his ailment. “It’s getting worse over the past week since the Shenendehowa Invitational. I pushed through and wanted to help the team as much as I could. I’ve got to break the record soon. There’s not much time left to do it.”
Brown’s first place finish in the high bar capped off an afternoon that began with the Amsterdam 4×800 relay team of Andrew Druziak, Mikey Gomez, Antonio Mercado and Gabe Fernandez (8- minutes, 26.40 seconds) taking first place in a meet where AHS outscored South Glens Falls 56-22 on the track.
“On track we did a fantastic job,” Amsterdam coach Kevin Wilary said. “Starting with the 4×800 relay and watching the results come in, it shows the hard work and dedication of the coaches and the kids.”
All season long hard work has paid off for the Rams, who completed a perfect 6-0 record in their first season in the Foothills Council. Amsterdam won the South Division outright last week with a victory over Gloversville. Along the way, Amsterdam defeated talented teams from Broadalbin-Perth, Scotia-Glenville, Johnstown, and Glens Falls heading into Tuesday’s crossover meet with the North Division’s top team, the Bulldogs.
“In your first year you want to put a footprint in and show how strong your program is,” Coach Wilary said. “We’re showing the league that Amsterdam is a great program in both boys and girls. It’s a big deal.”
Even with a standout lineup that features athletes like seniors Brown, David Graveley and junior Omari Sturdivant, Amsterdam had freshman like Gomez, and sophomores like Kevon Boucaud take their turn at competing in different events. Gomez helped the 4×800 relay team to a win, and Boucaud grabbed first place for the Rams in the long jump.
“We showed the depth that we have and that other kids can come through,” Coach Wilary said. “This group is phenomenal.”
Amsterdam took first place in all but the 1600 meter run and the 3200 meter runs in the track events. David Graveley was the top finisher in both the 110 meter and 400 meter hurdles, and Brown took home first in the 100 meter (10.8 seconds), 200 meter, and 400 meter runs. Brown’s teammates Edgar Maldonado and Boucaud made it a clean sweep of the top three spots in the 400 meter. Andrew Druziak grabbed the top spot in the 800 meter run for AHS with Pablo Almodovar and Antonio Mercado close behind in second and third, and the 4×100 meter relay team of Ryan Farley, Graveley, Sturdivant and Boucaud were the best in their event. Alex Stewart came in second for the Rams in the 1600 meter run with Timmy Kline picking up a third place in that event and also in the 3200 meter run. Capping off an outstanding afternoon on the AHS track was the 4×400 meter relay team of Edgar Maldonado, Druziak, Fernandez and Graveley, who were first across the line in 3:53.20 .
In the field events for AHS, Boucaud’s victory in the long jump was accented by second and third place finishes from Andrew Druziak and Cameron Thomas. Jose Perez leaped to first in the triple jump with teammate Isaiah Cameron Murray taking third. Perez and Gehrig Garner tied for third behind Brown in the high jump. Perez took second in the shot put with Marcus Pritchard taking third. Perez was also second in the discus throw followed by a third place finish by Aris Niewkirk. Austin Brock was fourth in the pole vault.
South Glens Falls got top finishes from Matt Jenkins in the 1600 meter run, and the 3200 meter run, and in the field events from Zack Morris in the pole vault, and Nick Desautels in both the shot put and the discus throw.
“Goal number two was to win the Foothills crossover meet and we did that,” Coach Wilary said. “This is a group of kids that are incredibly special. The best athletes we’ve ever had are from this group.”
Amsterdam will next head to Saturday’s Eddy Meet in Schenectady. The Rams will also go for the team title in the Foothills Council Varsity Invitational meet next Wednesday at Queensbury High School.
(Photos by Scott Mulford)