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Quality Inn - Sudbury
Mike Hennessy, Lawyer
Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017
Runners by the thousands at L.U. Challenge
2016-09-30
by Randy Pascal

The Laurentian Voyageurs Cross-Country Challenge just keeps growing and growing.

Between the elementary races in the morning, and the “Rumble on the Rocks” for the high-schoolers in the afternoon, organizer Darren Jermyn and company would filter almost 2100 young athletes across the finish line at the L.U. track complex last Tuesday.

With numbers in that range, little surprise that there were a multitude of story-lines that emerged from the nine different races that would send boys and girls scurrying through the back trails of the scenic campus.

The dominance of the young female Timmins runners was chief among them, as a small but talented grouping of Timmins-Porcupine Track & Field Club representatives captured no less than six top five placings between the grade 5 & 6, and grade 7 & 8 girls events.

Eleven year old Morgan Rickard, a grade six student at Ecole Anicet-Morin, posted one of the more impressive wins on the day, covering the 1.9 km course more than 20 seconds faster than second place finisher Kelly Clark of Ste-Marie (Azilda).

A cross-country participant since her time in second grade, the spirited young lady has clearly benefitted from the teachings of long-time Timmins based track & field guru, Vital Shank. “When I was a kid, I didn’t really know how to breathe properly, and I didn’t know how you’re supposed to place your arms and stuff,” noted Rickard.

“Now, I know all of the techniques.” She certainly wasn’t alone. The Timmins-Porcupine crew were front and center in the intermediate girls gathering, with four club members jammed among the top five, including Jordyn Bartolomucci and Macy Turcotte, who crossed the line hand in hand, sharing the victory.

“Usually, we’re the same pace,” said Bartolomucci, a 13 year old grade 8 student at Ecole Sacre Coeur in Timmins. “We literally have almost the same personal best times for every race. We kind of figured we would be close, so we said why not stick together for this race.”

Bartolomucci had raced the event in 2014, though not covering the same circuit, but taking advantage of some solid cross-country strategy this time around, walking the course with her teammates before the run.

“I didn’t do “The Wall”, last time, but my sister talks about it all time,” stated Bartolomucci of the rapid up-hill ascend just before the runners loop towards the soccer field and work their way back towards the track.

“We just kind of paced ourselves, and then when we finished “The Wall”, we knew we had to go fast,” said Turcotte. “But we had saved up some energy for “The Beast”, right at the soccer field.”

Similarly, a veteran of the local elementary races, Calum Passi of Churchill Public School relied, to some extent, on course knowledge, helping him post a nine second win in the grade 7/8 boys race over friendly rival Austin Mashinter of MacLeod.

Not that understanding the twists and turns of the Laurentian backwoods was the only key to victory for Passi. “Last year, I did really well in track, and the year before, the only grade seven I lost to was Austin,” said the younger brother of University of Toronto Blues cross-country sophomore Liam Passi.

“I figured that I might be able to actually win. My soccer helped out a lot this summer, gave me a lot of cardio, and my mom has been really supporting me.” Even closer than the eldest elementary boys race was the finish of the grade 5 & 6 lads, as Alex Pharand of Alliance St-Joseph (Chelmsford) overtook Cale Bast of Northeastern on the final straightaway, picking up a one second win.

“At the start, someone had the lead by about 25 feet,” recalled Pharand, an 11 year old grade 6 student who also suits up with the Nickel City Sons “AAA” Minor Peewees. “But then I passed one, passed the other one, and then I was in second. When I got on the track, I realized I still had a chance to win it, so I ran as fast as I could.”

Multi-sport athletes were certainly not unique to the morning session. Dylann Mazzuchin of Lo-Ellen finished second only to Shannon O’Reilly of Timiskaming in the midget girls high school race, one week after establishing herself as the girl to beat at the SDSSAA level with a victory at Lockerby Composite.

This, in spite of the fact that she readily attest to focusing on basketball, first and foremost, one of five grade nine talents competing with the Knights senior girls team this fall. “The main reason I started cross-country was to get fit for basketball,” said Mazzuchin. “But I figured I was good at it and kind of stuck with it.”

“Over the summer, I don’t do really much training specifically for running, just because I’m so busy with basketball,” added Mazzuchin. “But at the same time, when I’m doing basketball, I feel like I am training for running, so it all works out.”

The reality, for Mazzuchin and others in the same boat, is that over the course of their high school careers, they are likely to eventually fall behind a small handful of athletes who opt to train for track & field year round, athletes like 17 year old Reuben Durand of Widdifield.

Durand was in a league of his own on Tuesday, covering the 6.4 km course in a time of 22:11, with Nicholas Lambert of Elliot Lake posting the next best time at 24:56. “It was kind of a race just to get used to running by myself,” said the 17 year old grade 12 student.

“I’m trying to get a feel for running cross-country again, and build up for OFSAA. My track season was cut short. I’ve been trying to build up from there, hopefully run well this cross country and indoor season, and get noticed by some big universities. That’s kind of what I hope for.”

Following are the top five finishers in all nine events:

Girls - Grade 3 & 4 - 1.9 kms
1 - Lucia Salmaso - Felix-Ricard - 8:55
2 - Gabrielle Gallagher - Jean-Paul II - 9:06
3 - Dawson Berehowsky - Holy Cross - 9:10
4 - Gabrielle Foreshew - Ste-Marie - 9:29
5 - Elsa Blum - St James - 9:32

Boys - Grade 3 & 4 - 1.9 kms
1 - Max Campbell - Holy Cross - 8:02
2 - Matti Jouppi - Walden Public - 8:04
3 - Gabe Gauvreau - Cyril Varney - 8:05
4 - Seth Lagadin - Walden Public - 8:06
5 - Cale Prpic - Hélène Gravel - 8:06

Girls - Grade 5 & 6 - 1.9 kms
1 - Morgan Rickard - Timmins Porcupine - 7:41
2 - Kelly Clark - Ste Marie - 8:05
3 - Sidney DelGuidice - Timmins Porcupine - 8:10
4 - Syla Swords - R.L. Beattie - 8:25
5 - Gillian Obradovich - MacLeod - 8:26

Boys - Grade 5 & 6 - 1.9 kms
1 - Alex Pharand - Alliance St Joseph - 7:31
2 - Cale Bast - Northeastern - 7:32
3 - Christian Munch - Felix-Ricard - 7:43
4 - Blake Rosener - St John - 7:44
5 - Nolan Kuhlberg - R.L. Beattie - 7:48

Girls - Grade 7 & 8 - 3.1 kms
1 - Jordyn Bartolomucci - Timmins Porcupine - 11:30
2 - Macy Turcotte - Timmins Porcupine - 11:30
3 - Danielle Rochon - Timmins Porcupine - 12:18
4 - Ophelie Bruneau - Ste-Marie - 12:21
5 - Danika Lapierre - Timmins Porcupine - 12:26

Boys - Grade 7 & 8 - 3.1 kms
1 - Calum Passi - Churchill - 10:55
2 - Austin Mashinter - MacLeod - 11:04
3 - Ian MacKenzie - Pinecrest - 11:11
4 - Sebastien Boisvert - J-E Blais - 11:32
5 - Mitchell Martin - Lo-Ellen Public - 11:34

Midget Girls - 3.4 kms
1 - Shannon O'Reilly - Timiskaming - 14:57
2 - Dylann Mazzuchin - Lo-Ellen - 15:10
3 - Isabella Mastroianni - St Benedict - 15:13
4 - Meredith Kusnierczyk - Lo-Ellen - 15:16
5 - Fiona Symington - Lo-Ellen - 15:32

Midget Boys - 5.5 kms
1 - Neil Kovacs - Scollard Hall - 22:02
2 - Kendyn Mashinter - Lo-Ellen - 22:24
3 - Jack Heaphy - St Benedict - 22:26
4 - Aiden MacKenzie - Confederation - 22:33
5 - André Larocque - Notre-Dame - 22:42

Junior Girls - 3.4 kms
1 - Catherine Heroux - Algonquin - 15:01
2 - Jayde Hurley - Lo-Ellen - 15:03
3 - Nathalie Marks de Chabris - Lo-Ellen - 15:08
4 - Katie Bethune - Algonquin - 16:05
5 - Kamryn Butler - Lockerby - 16:08

Junior Boys - 6.4 kms
1 - Augustin Marks de Chabris - Lo-Ellen - 24:01
2 - Keon Wallingford - Widdifield - 24:04
3 - Noah Gallant - Espanola - 25:25
4 - Connor Jermyn - Lo-Ellen - 25:26
5 - Colin Withers - Espanola - 25:27

Senior Girls - 5.5 kms
1 - Sydney Tarini - Lo-Ellen - 23:45
2 - Nina Kucheran - Notre-Dame - 25:04
3 - Allison Caswell - Lo-Ellen - 25:29
4 - Kennedy Parks - Espanola - 26:06
5 - Sophie Laperrière - Algonquin - 28:01

Senior Boys - 6.4 kms
1 - Reuben Durand - Widdifield - 22:11
2 - Nicholas Lambert - Elliot Lake - 24:56
3 - James Scott - Manitoulin - 25:48
4 - James Munro - Lasalle - 25:53
5 - Jaxcsen Cress - Lively - 26:27

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