1619956026 Column Chaminades Patrick Ize Iyama sprints toward his legacy

Column: Chaminade’s Patrick Ize-Iyama sprints toward his legacy

When Patrick Ize-Iyamu was 10, he remembers running the anchor leg for a 400-meter relay team in a race that reinforced his passion for track. Running out of Lane 5, he was trailing by 20 meters to the competitors on each side. He took the baton and made up the deficit, splitting his competitors for a photo finish and causing the crowd to gasp at the unfolding drama.

Then everyone waited for the public address announcer to reveal the winning team. When Ize-Iyamu learned his team won, he received congratulations, cheers and adulation from parents and fans.

“It was a great feeling. That’s when I really started to love track,” he said.

Ize-Iyamu, the son of Nigerian immigrants, is ready to show off his speed and love for running at the Arcadia Invitational on Saturday at Arcadia High.

He’s a junior sprinter at West Hills Chaminade with the fastest wind legal 100-meters time in the state. With the state championships canceled for a second straight year because of COVID-19, the 100- and 200-meter finals at Arcadia will be the unofficial state championships. No fans will be allowed but the event will be live streamed at arcadiainvitational.org.

Ize-Iyamu ran the 100 in 10.56 seconds at the Simi Valley Invitational last month when he hadn’t worked on speed training. He had done no speed training, only endurance training. So he’s excited to see how fast he might run after spending the last couple of weeks focusing on sprinting.

“Mentally I’m telling myself I have to go in and get the job done, have fun,” he said. “Physically I’m starting to work on my speed, my block starts, my acceleration, lifting my knees down the track. It brings me a lot of confidence knowing I was able to run a 10.56 without speed training.”

Even more exciting is the competition he’ll be facing in the 100 and 200. There’s going to be football players coming out after their spring season. No one really knows how fast Domani Jackson of Santa Ana Mater Dei is prepared to run. He ran 10.51 seconds earlier this week with wind at 2.5.Ize-Iyamu is just glad that Jackson, the state’s top junior cornerback, won’t be trying to tackle him.

As a freshman, when the 6-foot-2, 196-pound Ize-Iyamu qualified for the state championships in the 100, he saw how big and powerful the football players were competing in the sprints. It caused him to devote more time toward building up his strength by lifting weights.

During the one year of COVID-19 shutdowns, he was spending time at home when no one was watching, building up that strength.

His father bought him hand-held free weights. He went to friends houses to work out with their weight racks.

“I was in weight room getting my body right and trying to stay with the stronger football guys because I know they were going to be at the meets,” he said. “I found anywhere I could to get a workout in.”

He participated in one race his sophomore year before the track season was canceled, running 10.81 in a dual meet. He has no scholarship offers despite his swift 100 time. It helps motivate him to display his speed on a stage that will bring together the fastest runners in the state.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I know it’s a premier invitational in California and really in the nation. I know there’s going to be a lot of competition and should produce some real fast times.”

VIDEO | 13:28

Chaminade sprinter Patrick Ize-Iyamu talks about high school sports

Chaminade sprinter Patrick Ize-Iyamu talks to Eric Sondheimer and Randy Rosenbloom on “Friday Night Live.”

It’s also a Summer Olympics year, which moves track and field into the public spotlight. He has watched and learned from the great American speedsters such as Michael Norman and Noah Lyles, and hurdler Rai Benjamin.

“There needs to be a new sprint champion in the world,” he said. “I think America can pull it off.”

Ize-Iyamu comes from the same school that produced TJ Brock, the state 100-meter champion in 2015 and 2016.

The next month will reveal how successful Ize-Iyamu is in creating his own track legacy.

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