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Saturday, Jun. 23, 2018
L.U. indoor track talent, locally grown
by Randy Pascal

In the realm of the local high school track and field world, it would be fair to note that the vast majority of athletes, across all age brackets, lining up across the starting lines for the 100m, 200m and 400m finals likely enter the city championships with two months, or less, of training under their collective belts.

In fact, it is a very small fraction of this grouping who would have prepped for the outdoor season by competing at indoor meets. Typically, the elite of Sudbury athletics, those whose workouts are maintained almost year-round as members of the Track North Athletic Club, would fit into this mold.

Small wonder then that it is a whole other level of discovery that awaits the SDSSAA contingent who move on to compete in sprint races in the university ranks, requiring a standard of commitment that is new to many. In fact, it stands to reason that a certain percentage fall by the wayside each winter, unable to take that next step, all while balancing the increased academic demands of post-secondary studies.

Thankfully, for head coach Dick Moss and the crew at Laurentian University, the current crop of varsity athletes taking part in the OUA indoor circuit features a nice cross-section of Nickel City talent, building upon a base of skill that allowed for a certain amount of success on local stage.

In May of 2015, the Collège Notre-Dame tandem of Danielle Roy and Natasha Mayer captured the 100m and 200m races, respectively, at the city track & field championships, with both young women moving on to tackle the Kinesiology and Promotion de la Santé programs at Laurentian University.

“I would say that I am more serious about it now, considering that we start training a lot earlier than we did in high school,” noted the 19 year Roy, between sets at a practice at the L.U. field house earlier this week.

“It’s more time consuming, especially with the studies now.” While Roy hit the OUA standard in the 60m dash (8.20), posting a time of 8.16 in the event final at the Ottawa Winter National Indoor Track Meet last weekend, she did so in spite of the fact that the distance does not necessarily cater to her strengths.

“I actually like the 100m better, just because in the 60m, you have to be explosive from the start,” said Roy. “The blocks are the things that I have the most problems with, what has affected my racing the most, even in high school. That’s the main element I am working on this year, trying to explode out of the blocks.”

“My first two steps are good,” she continued. “It’s when I get to the third one and I am slowly starting to get myself upright, that’s the part I have the most trouble with.” Roy will be joined at the OUA championships by her graduating classmate at Notre-Dame, as Mayer clipped through roughly a quarter second better than the time she needed in the 300m race.

“At university, you take it a lot more seriously,” Mayer stated. “We’ve always had the Monday-Wednesday-Friday workouts, but I never took it seriously enough before to do the off-day workouts.”

“Having teammates that are so competitive really helps, because you want to do as well as they do. We have so many more coaches now, spending all of this time on something, you might as well do your best.”

Having tinkered with the 100m, 200m and 400m during her time at CND, Mayer has found a comfort zone moving indoors with her next step up the ladder. “The 300m is definitely my favourite race,” she said.

“I’m more of a middle distance sprinter. Last year, I did the 60m and the 300m, and the 60m was way too short for me.” The revelation has allowed her to narrow her focus, while still balancing between the various demands of the 300 metre distance.

“For the 300m, if you really want to be good, you need to work on your speed,” said Mayer. “The endurance will only help you so much in that race, because it’s still pretty short. Last year was my first time ever running the 300m, so I really didn’t know what to expect, whether it was closer to running a 200m or a 400m, which are totally different races.”

“In my first couple of races, I held back a little, because I was scared,” she continued. “You don’t want to run out of energy. This year, I know how to run it. With my training, I know that I can hit a certain speed for the whole time.”

The Voyageurs team, which also includes local talent such as Zvia Mazal (Macdonald-Cartier), Caleb Beland (Bishop Carter), Jennie Philipow (Collège Notre-Dame), Skyler Savage-Perreault (Horizon), Gordie Chown (Lockerby) and Tony Thomas (CND), are back on the road on February 4th, taking part in the York Open in Toronto.

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