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Quality Inn - Sudbury
Sunday, Jun. 16, 2019
Eleven L.U. athletes hit standard at indoor track meet
by Randy Pascal

There was a definite buzz in the air as the Laurentian Voyageurs indoor track talent reconvened Monday at the university fieldhouse, fresh off a season opening meet that produced eleven OUA qualifying standards, seven personal best times, and a pair of medal winners.

The Monday workout was clearly a recovery session to be enjoyed.

The beauty, for Laurentian coaches Darren Jermyn and Dick Moss, is that the athletes responsible for these noteworthy performances come into the 2019 season with a whole variety of different backgrounds and stories.

Hard to believe that it's now been almost four full years since local sprinter Skyler Savage-Perreault last starred on the track as a member of the Horizon Aigles. Besting the OUA standard by clocking a time of 7.25 seconds in the 60m dash, the soon-to-be graduate of the Health Promotions program had more than a few reasons to walk away pleased from his Ottawa race this past weekend.

“Usually going into competition, I am still struggling with my hamstring issue that I had in grade 12, way back then,” said Savage-Perreault. “This year is the first time that my run was pretty much painless, which was a great start. I think I am just listening to my body more. I'm taking the time off that I need to recover and I'm being more smart about my training, reducing the intensity if I need to.”

“This wasn't my best time, but it's a good starting point,” he added. “I did stumble out of the blocks. They run their schedule tight, so there's not a lot of time to set up your blocks. I could have probably adjusted my blocks a little better, but I still recovered and came out with an OUA standard.”

"I liked that I was able to continue accelerating even though my first three steps out of the blocks left me kind of behind. If I stay away from injuries, I am hoping to break the seven second barrier. That's the goal for the year."

The Kingston duo of Liam Pedersen and Paul Sagriff are only about halfway down the road that Savage-Perreault has travelled at Laurentian. Just into his sophomore season, Pedersen is already taking stock of the differences that affect his performances, compared to last year.

“With a year under my belt, I have a lot more confidence and a lot more knowledge about how things go,” he said. “I'm a lot less tense and nervous going into meets and training and stuff. It has a huge impact.”

“Looking at how I ran in my first meet this year versus last year, I was a lot less sporadic and antsy. I would tend to go out a little too fast, and then I would seize up and get lactic and die at the end. This meet, I stayed calm. I made sure I was still running fast, but I was relaxed coming through with 200 metres to go. I had a lot more left in the tank when I wanted to finish.”

The end result would speak for itself. Pedersen crossed the line in the 600m race with a time of 1:23.21, getting standard out of the way early in the season. "I feel like I am in much better shape, not only with my cardio. My body just feels stronger and not hurting."

It's a similar story with Sagriff (8:39.78 in the 3000m), also in year two with the team, and coming off a phenomenal cross country campaign in which he would help lead the Voyageur men to a berth at nationals.

“I absolutely love cross country,” Sagriff admitted. “If I could do cross country all year round, I would. The longer the distance, the better. I like running on different courses, through the mud, the rain, the cold and all that. The main thing for me now is just trying to stay healthy during the indoor season.”

Recording a time that was only mildly off the pace set by teammate Liam Passi (who also reached standard with an 8:35.78 in the 3000m), Sagriff is looking forward to an upcoming meet in Boston, where he hopes to work in tandem with the Sudbury native and graduate of Lasalle Secondary.

“I want my splits to be even, as even as possible,” noted Sagriff of his race strategy in the 3000m. “I'm not big into going out slow and kicking at the end. I would rather be even paced the whole way and try and kick at the end.”

With that in mind, Sagriff would look to Ottawa as yet another valuable learning experience. "It was a PB (personal best time), but it wasn't the time I was looking for," admitted the second year student in Sport and Physical Education/Concurrent Education.

"The first lap was slow, which kind of screwed things up a little bit. There was a 200 metre gap where I just kind of drew a blank and lost contact. I tried to bring it (the lead pack) back, but it was tough."

While the above noted lads were all on the radar of the L.U. coaching staff during their high school years, Justin Graenert was more of a pleasant revelation. “The coaches were talking to my (younger) brother (Maurice) originally,” noted the native of Aurora and graduate of the St Maximilian Kolbe Mustangs system.

“That got me interested.” That has turned out to be quite the blessing for the Voyageurs, as Graenert edged out Pedersen in the 600m race (1:23.08), with the folks at Laurentian making plans to race what they believe can be an ultra-competitive 4 X 800m men's indoor relay team.

That plan would be an easy sell, apparently, for Graenert. "I think I get pumped up way more when I am running the relay," said the 18 year-old freshman. "Just the fact of having three other people on your team, having that connection with them." Individually or collectively, the 800m is his race.

“When I was younger, in elementary school, I was more of a long distance runner,” said Graenert. “It wasn't until grade ten, when I learned to run the 800m properly, that I finally figured out that I had a bit of a gift for speed. I would say that if you're not dying at the end of the race, you haven't run the 800m properly.”

“If you're not hitting a wall in the last 100 metres, then you're not running it properly,” added the first year Mechanical Engineering major.

Similar to Graenert, North Bay native Erin Hansel was not initially in the plans for L.U. Following in the footsteps of older brother Graham, Hansel would move directly from her graduation at West Ferris Secondary School to join the track and cross country teams at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

And while many a Canadian athlete will return back from a very frustrating NCAA experience well before graduation, Hansel's eventual commitment to the Voyageurs would come on the heels of two wonderful years as a member of the Flames.

“I walked on to the team and had two awesome years,” said the 20 year old former NOSSA multi-medal winner. “I loved everything about it, but transferred here for the Forensics program. It's much better geared towards working in Canada later.”

All of which has provided Hansel with a somewhat different perspective than many a student athlete. “Now, academics are more of the focus and I'm just having a lot of fun with running,” she said. “I'm really enjoying it. It's kind of my break from studying and stuff.”

And lest anyone believe that athletic and academic excellence cannot be combined, Hansel was also among those who secured their berth at provincials, posting a time of 2:59.40 in the 1000 metre event.

"I want to focus on the 1000m this year, and I've never really run that before," she said. "I kind of flipped back and forth in every season of high school, between cross-country and track, but towards the end, I was liking track more."

"And definitely in the States, I liked the track season more. I like the speedier aspect of the 800 metres. That's what I have run a lot the last couple of years." Following is a breakdown of some of the other results for the Laurentian indoor team from their season opening event in Ottawa:

Women's Events
60m Dash
Hannah Merjavec - 8.30 - 16th place (OUA standard)
Danielle Roy - 8.46 - 23rd
Esther Nabatanzi - 9.31 - 41st

1000m race
Erin Hansel - 2:59.40 - 5th (OUA standard)

1500m race
Sarah Thackeray - 5:23.05 - 12th

3000m race
Megan Crocker - 9:53.41 - SILVER (OUA standard)
Nicole Rich (alumnus) - 10:13.11 - 5th
Pascale Gendron - 10:26.03 - 6th (OUA standard)
Meghan Sippel - 11:10.42 - 7th
Kelsey Lefebvre - (unattached) 11:55.40 - 10th
Miranda Boudreau - 12:23.19 - 13th

Men's Events
60m Dash
Skyler Savage-Perreault - 7.25 - 13th (OUA standard)
Eric Roque - 7.41 - 19th
Alexandre Noel de Tilly - 7.50 - 25th
Josiah Oomen (unattached) 7:70 - 36th

300m race
Michael Griepsma - 37.51 - 28th
Michael Petta - 38.39 - 37th

600m race
Justin Graenert - 1:23.08 - 8th (OUA standard)
Liam Pederson - 1:23.31 - 10th (OUA standard)

800m race
Eric Gareau - 1:56.77 - 7th
Justin Graenert - 1:57.34 - 8th
Liam Pederson - 1:57.51 - 10th
Michael Griepsma - 2:04.89 - 22nd
Michael Petta - 2:08.77 - 30th

1000m race
Eric Gareau 2:32.24 - 6th (OUA standard)
Caleb Beland - 2:36.31 - 10th (OUA standard)

1500m race
Dylan McKevitt - 4:09.84 - 7th
Jarod Milford - 4:33.63 - 20th

3000m race
Liam Passi - 8:35.78 - BRONZE (OUA standard)
Paul Sagriff - 8:39.78 - 4th (OUA standard)
Alexandre Fishbein-Ouimette - 9:17.89 - 13th

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