more than a few years now, the Laurentian Voyageurs
Indoor Track team has provided ideal accommodation
for members of a very successful L.U. cross-country
program to continue their winter training maintenance,
setting themselves up nicely for summer road/trail
workouts and perhaps a handful of competitions on
That element has definitely not
disappeared, as women’s XC standout Pascale
Gendron prepares to leave this week for an indoor
meet in Boston, one which welcomes some 200 athletes
in the 3000m distance alone to the fastest track
in North America – a wonderful setting for
a new PB.
And yes, Voyageurs’ coaches
Dick Moss and Darren Jermyn have long welcomed aboard
various other track and field athletes looking to
build a base in the midst of the long, cold northern
Ontario winters, a venture made easier by the construction
of the Laurentian Fieldhouse a decade or so ago.
But the 2022-2023 season has a different
feel to it, for sure, for the Blue and Gold. It’s
those outliers, if you will, that have garnered
much of the attention – and deservedly so.
“The indoor season is definitely
a continuation for the cross-country types, the
middle distance folks who still run the 1500m/3000m
after the cross-country season,” said Jermyn
at practice earlier this week, the OUA Championships
just over two weeks away (February 24th/25th in
“Now we have a full group
of sprinters and we are trying to develop a larger
jumping group with both Jim and Ryan Taylor as coaches.”
The results have been more than
just a tad impressive.
“On our sprint side, we are doing
extremely well,” said Jermyn. “Tristan Routhier
is by far our biggest surprise of the year. He’s
taken a third of a second off his 60m time in less than
a year. That’s significant. That’s like taking
30 or 40 seconds off a middle distance race.”
A 21 year-old second year Architecture
student from rural Québec, Routhier brings an interesting
background to his newfound success on the track, having
played competitive soccer in his youth and truthfully
only running for “fun”, as he said, through
his high-school years and at CEGEP de l’Outaouais.
In fact, badminton outranked track and
field in his athletic priority listing prior to Routhier
arriving in Sudbury. Clearly not recruited in any way,
shape or form, the young Francophone simply made a call
as he settled in to his home away from home, curious as
to the varsity sport offerings at Laurentian, opting to
simply make his way out to an open outdoor tryout in the
fall of 2021.
His athletic base gave Jermyn and company
something to work with – but the 2022/2023 breakthrough
comes by virtue of really getting a handle on the technical
aspects of the sprint.
“When I was running, I used to run
very stressed, with my shoulders up high, up to my head,”
said Routhier. “Now, I am more relaxed.”
With that, his time has dropped to a best
of 7.03 (he would love to break the seven second plateau)
– yet the 300m distance might offer even more potential.
“Because I am tall, it’s difficult for me
to have a good start (in the 60m) – I am trying
to catch up after that. This year, I tried the 300m, which
is new for me, but it’s going pretty well.”
I would say so.
With a best time of 35.72, Routhier is
poised to break the school record of 35.43, possibly before
provincial championships. Despite his hectic academic
schedule, the hard-working young man is not about to shelve
his athletic dreams, not with this current upward trajectory.
“The difference between last year
and this year is really big,” he said. “For
me, it’s mostly mental. I’ve had some injuries
in the past, so sometimes I was scared that those injuries
would come back. And I wasn’t used to hitting the
gym (weight-room) before. Now, getting a workout with
Jim and Ryan, it’s really good stuff.”
“I can feel the difference.”
If he is successful in establishing a
new L.U. track standard, it will mark the second record
of the season for the Voyageurs crew. Masters student
and CFL quarterback Tre Ford (who happens to be married
to CND graduate Anika Nadeau) posted a time of 6.94 in
just his third meet with the team.
“Tre has come in and been a great
addition to our team,” said Jermyn. “He fits
in perfectly well, works hard in practice, is very coachable
and performs very well – and his warm-up is really
impressive. You can see him mentally getting ready. I
think his professional sport background lends to that
and I think it’s a great thing for his teammates
In addition to the upcoming meet in Boston,
the L.U. Indoor Track team is slated to participate in
the Fred Foot Invitational at the University of Toronto
on February 17th. All in all, it’s been a very nice
return to normalcy for coaches and athletes alike.
“We’ve had really good support
from the athletic department,” stressed Jermyn.
“Support for us to get back training, support for
us to have access to the facilities, support for us to
travel – and we’re happy with that.”
“Obviously, the school has been
through some tough times but our team has really kept
whole – and we’re excited by that.”
And the whole, it seems, is a whole lot
more than might have been the case in the past.