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Black Flies Meet is in the books - the race to OFSAA is on
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A good number of the competitors at the 2024 Black Flies Track Meet Friday afternoon at Laurentian University looked to be in mid-season form.

Given that the track has been opened for outdoor practices for roughly a month now and that we are already just over two weeks away from the city track & field championships, this is a very good thing.

In the ultra-abbreviated schedule that is high-school track in Sudbury, there honestly isn’t much of a “mid-season” to speak of anyways.

With his sights set on the 800m novice boys school record (2:09 – 2016 – Lucas Mrozewski), Lo-Ellen Park freshman Narayan Shukla knows that time is of the essence in this pursuit.

A 2:14.88 clocking on Friday might not seem all that close, but given that there was a limited push (second place finisher Wyatt Williamson-Wright was at 2:17.20 in this heat) and that conditions were certainly not ideal (wet and soggy), it’s certainly not a completely unrealistic target for the well-spoken newcomer to high-school track.

“My end goal this year would be to break my school record but I have to shave off five seconds to do that,” said Shukla. “It’s going to be hard, but hopefully I can get there. If not, I’m looking at 2:10, 2:11. My long-term goal is to get as fast as I can in high-school and then continue running after high-school.”

An accomplished basketball talent as well, Shukla is clearly predisposed to races that are 800 metres or less, recognizing that they likely tap into two very different strengths in the make-up of the young runner.

“I feel like the 400m has more of a physical toll – it hurts your body – but the 800m is more of a mental toll,” explained Shukla. “You’ve got to run it (800m) smart. With the 400m, you just have to hope that your body can keep up with how fast you want to go.”

Given his relative inexperience at the high-school level, small wonder that this early stretch is still providing learning opportunities for the talented 14 year-old. “I noticed at a practice with my school that I was going out too slow (in the 800m),” said Shukla. “I had to pass everyone to try and get a good time.”

“Today, I got out quickly into lane three and then just went at my own pace.”

Yet another multi-sport talent, Lo-Ellen Park / Sudbury Jr Spartans receiver-slotback Carson Huzij is at very least contemplating the possibility of competing in both football and track at a post-secondary level. His recent in-roads in the latter, taking top spot in the Men’s Open 100m dash with a nearly half-second win, suggests that the 18 year-old is getting closer and closer to making it happen.

“This winter, me and my coach (Robert EsmieAir Blastoff Lions) really focused on the drive phase,” said Huzij, breaking the finish line at 11.44 seconds on Friday. “In analyzing my footage, we noticed I was coming up vertically after the first three steps. All winter, we practiced drive phase, drive phase, drive phase, holding it for 30 yards or more.”

“That’s really where the speed comes from.”

Already having drawn football interest from a pair of Canadian schools (Bishop’s and St Mary’s), Huzij is committed to circling back for one more year of high-school in the hopes of catching the eyes of scouts south of the border. As he continues to get faster, it’s obviously important to understand exactly how he wants to translate that extra speed on the football field.

“When it comes to route running, I act like I am running 100% but I am really only running 70%,” said Huzij. “When I make my move, that’s when I go up to top speed. Making a cut at 100% speed can be very dangerous for your ankles.”

And like Shukla, Huzij enters the 2024 track season with at least one very aggressive goal.

“I’m striving to break 11 seconds this year,” said Huzij (the SDSSAA senior boys record is 11.07 seconds set by Eric Roque in 2008). “I think come NOSSA, with a good block start, I can definitely do it.”

Daniel Cova won’t be setting any SDSSAA records any time soon – though he certainly has the talent to do so.

With the former Black Flies Relay Meet now converted over to what amounts to an Athletics Ontario sanctioned open event, the Ottawa native who attends E.S.C. Louis Riel took advantage of a planned trip to Sudbury to visit family to sneak in an appearance at the L.U. track, recording the fastest time in the Men’s 3000m at 8:59.85.

Given that this is comfortably off the time of 8:46.67 that he posted last August in winning gold at the Ontario U14/U16/U18 Championships – a time that is roughly ten seconds faster than the SDSSAA record held by Ross Proudfoot – it only made sense that Laurentian varsity coach Darren Jermyn would also coordinate a campus recruitment tour for the 17 year-old grade 11 student at the same time.

“Honestly, that wasn’t my best race – I’ve run a lot faster,” Cova confessed. “But I was sick last week, so it’s good to get back out. It went alright.”

“I was visiting my family in Sudbury and had a few connections with the coaches here (at L.U.), so I came by to visit the school.”

A bronze medal winner in the junior boys 1500m at OFSAA 2023, Cova is looking to qualify for Legion Nationals in the 3000m this summer, hopefully hitting the podium.

Following are the top three finishers from all of the open events that were hosted on Friday:

Open Women
100m – Melina Doiron (12.76); Annabelle Richardson (13.10); Maija Potvin (13.36)
200m – Annabelle Richardson (27.68); Milena Kulik (28.26); Leah Serre (28.28)
400m – Barbara Ceccon (1:03.44); Lucia Salmaso (1:04.54); Karly Kero (1:04.61)
800m – Barbara Ceccon (2:27.06); Lucia Salmaso (2:27.09); Mackenzie Green (2:33.09)
1500m – Georgia Lepage (5:17.46); Charlotte Grenier (5:23.13); Megan Pineau (5:27.36)
3000m – Charlie Borak (11:30.89); Lauren Pineau (11:32.77); Valérie Vaillancourt (11:52.19)
Long Jump – Saraya Eshkawkogan (4.65m); Nadia MacDonald (4.53); Kali Clement (4.45m)

Open Men
100m – Carson Huzij (11.44); Darren Joiner (11.84); Abdul Abiodun (11.92)
200m – Carson Huzij (23.59); Christian Hodgins (23.70); Darren Joiner (24.26)
400m – Brandon Radey (51.35); Jacob Paille (52.35); Christian Hodgins (52.88)
800m – Nolan Kuhlberg (2:00.87); Jacob Paille (2:07.53); Shiloh Sauve (2:07.87)
1500m – Brodie Pennie (4:14.32); Sam Rice (4:32.44); Jesse Daniw (4:37.01)
3000m – Daniel Cova (8:59.85); Brodie Pennie (9:00.22); Sam Rice (9:26.29)
Long Jump – Zidain Allen (5.60m); Jesse Plante (5.45m); Will Mackay (5.44m)

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