A switch from snow to black flies brings the track athletes out
by Randy Pascal
Run a few days earlier, the 2019 LU Black Flies Track and Field Meet might have been more aptly dubbed the Snowflake Festival.
Thankfully, with the unwelcome May mid-week dumping of the white stuff receding nicely by Saturday, entries from a handful of high-schools just chomping
at the bit to begin their outdoor season locally were putting the wheels in motion for what they hope will be a memorable summer.
St Charles College senior Eric Struk feels that motivation perhaps a little more than most. “With it being my last year, you want to make
your mark, you want to be remembered,” he said, shortly after capturing the 400m dash in a solid time of 52.79 seconds. “Last year, I was really distracted
and not motivated. This year, I really want to do well and make it to OFSAA.”
Raising the stakes by committing to three day a week workouts with Olympic gold medal winner Robert Esmie, Struk has been a mainstay in the
shorter sprints (100m/200m) during his time as a Cardinal, but may have stumbled across an intriguing change, with the city championships only weeks away.
“I did my first 400 metre race in two years today,” noted Struk. “I wasn't expecting to do this well. I thought I would just try my best and see what
happens. But all of the training we have been doing seems to have shaped me to more of a 400 metre runner.”
By contrast, the junior boys 400m event could well be the domain of the Lasalle Lancers. While “AAA” hockey talent Tyson Belland captured
the distance as a midget last spring, it is Lancer teammate Aidan Lowe who is looking particularly quick out of the blocks, crossing the line first
on Saturday in a new meet record of 54.91 seconds.
“It's one of my favourite races,” said Lowe. “My first five steps are like a sprint for me, and then I try and carry it through. At the end, I push my
hardest. You have to keep up momentum.”
Belland and Lowe are but two of a nice young influx of track talent at Lasalle Secondary, a grouping that also included top performances from Jasmine
Savignac (1st in MG 100m/200m), Janelle Chhun (1st – JG 400m), Josh McKay (1st – MB 100m/200m), Bradley Kroft (1st – MB high-jump)
and Callum Passi (2nd – Open Boys 3000m) at the season opening meet.
Unfortunate news circulating around the soccer pitch yesterday, as it seems that Passi, the first local OFSAA cross-country medal winner in over twenty
years, has sustained a fracture in one of his feet and will likely have to bypass the high-school track season entirely this spring.
“Right now, we're doing really good so far, but it is the first meet, so we can't really say too much,” said Lowe. “But our midgets are fast.” Of course,
even with an impressive group of grade nine and ten athletes, the Lancers are still a ways from posing a real serious team threat to the juggernaut that is
the Lo-Ellen Park Knights.
Many of those leading that charge have become familiar names in these circles and are looking strong, including defending OFSAA bronze medal winner
Kurtis Wennerstrom, who unleashed a PB of 6.54m in the long jump last June to finish third in Windsor, but kicked off 2019 with a meet record leap
of 6.84 metres this weekend.
“I've been dealing with a bit of an injury in my quad,” said the grade 11 student at Lo-Ellen, back on the track on Sunday to help coach Jim
Taylor, up from the Kitchener area to run a Jump/Throw clinic in Sudbury. “I wasn't going to do my events, I skipped the triple jump, but I decided to
do the long jump because it started to feel better. I was rolling it throughout the day.”
“That jump gave me a lot of confidence, heading into the season.”
That jump also brought a huge smile to the face of coach Taylor, a mainstay on the local scene for several years, before moving south with his family.
These days, he works with a large number of OFSAA medal winning jumpers, all while keeping an eye on son Ryan, a sophomore at Central Michigan
University and graduate of Northeastern Public School in Garson.
While Ryan and Jim were almost always side by side, at the track, as the talented youngster worked his way up the ranks, father sees the current
separation borne largely out of his very busy schedule in coaching as a very positive thing.
“I think it's been beneficial for both of us,” said Jim, having completed his workshop with the local crew on Sunday. “It's beneficial for Ryan, in that
he gets a different perspective from his coaching. It's beneficial for me, because sometimes it's a tough, tough go in separating the father-son connection
from the athlete-coach thing.”
“We kind of experimented with it last summer at the national championships. It was the best competition I ever had, because I really enjoyed just being a
dad at that event.”
Taylor did not travel north alone, however, bringing along fellow Brantford Track Club coach Sean Doucette. “I would say that he is our best
youth development throws coach in the country,” said Taylor. No surprise then that this is where OFSAA silver medal winner (discus) Lauren Fearn of
Lo-Ellen has hitched her wagon.
“I started training in January with Sean,” said Fearn, who did not compete in the Black Flies, given that no throwing events are included. “We trained
once a month and he taught me some new techniques.” Still, the reality for the grade ten student at Lo-Ellen is that she is still only just cutting her
teeth in the troika of events (shot put, discus, javelin) that require an incredible attention to technical detail to succeed at a truly elite level.
“I'm still just learning the javelin, so that's my weaker discipline, for sure,” she said. “I've always been good at the shot put, but it's an event
that I don't like as much as the discus. But Sean says I can be really good at shot put, because I have the best build for that.”
“The good news is that each of them involve the fact that my whole left side will block, so there is some consistency, and every single one includes
hips,” said Fearn, who acknowledges a very well-earned reputation as being more than a bit chatty at times. “My coaches like to say, “more hips, less lips”
because I talk so much,” she noted with a smile.
While some of the athletes are off to North Bay for the Nipissing Invitational this weekend, upcoming local events include the SDSSAA Track Relay meet on
May 15th, leading into the city championships on May 22nd and 23rd.
Other local winners are listed below:
400m - G - Maeve Caddel (Lockerby) - 1:11.96
800m - G - Allison Symington (Lo-Ellen) - 2:24.23
80m hurdles - G - Ali Bertrim (Lo-Ellen) - 15.34
High Jump - G - Kendra Galipeau (Notre-Dame) - 1.35m
Triple Jump - G - Ali Bertrim (Lo-Ellen) - 9.57m
400m - B - Cameron Bauer (Lo-Ellen) - 59.51
800m - B - Patrick Wiss (Lo-Ellen) - 2:18.10
100m hurdles - B - Ethan Shoup (Lo-Ellen) - 18.31
Long Jump - B - Brady Ducharme (Lockerby) - 5.02m
Triple Jump - B - Brady Ducharme (Lockerby) - 11.00m
100m - G - Naomi Palmer (Sacré-Coeur) - 13.29
200m - G - Naomi Palmer (Sacré-Coeur) - 27.72
800m - G - Kalila Bachiu (Lo-Ellen) - 2:29.41
80m hurdles - G - Isabelle Maki (Lo-Ellen) - 14.97
Long Jump - G - Chandyn Bachiu (Lo-Ellen) - 4.51m
Triple Jump - G - Chandyn Bachiu (Lo-Ellen) - 9.82m
100m hurdles - B - Bryce Desabrais (Lo-Ellen) - 16.93
High Jump - B - Logan Spicer (Lo-Ellen) - 1.87m*
Long Jump - B - Bryce Desabrais (Lo-Ellen) - 5.24m
100m - G - Christina Robert (Lo-Ellen) - 13.20
100m hurdles - G - Fiona Symington (Lo-Ellen) - 17.70
3000m - G - Avery Sutherland (Lo-Ellen) - 11:44.98
100m - B - Zachari Mainville (Track North) - 11.16
200m - B - Zachari Mainville (Track North) - 22.97