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Nykilchyk and company raise the bar on day one of track and field championships

SDSSAA pole vault record falls on day one of competition
race running track and field
Get caught up with the results from day one of the SDSSAA Track & Field Championships. (File)

When a pole vault record is broken at the SDSSAA Track & Field Championships, one generally has to look no further than a former or current gymnast. It's an assumption that holds true, far more often than not.

Someone forgot to send that script to Lockerby Composite senior Hannah Nykilchyk.

Blessed with a primary sports background in hockey and golf, the 17-year-old grade 11 student wandered into the pole vault scene back in grade nine. Late Wednesday afternoon, Nykilchyk broke the senior girls pole vault record of 2.70 meters, clearing the bar at 2.71m and just missing at 2.74m.

Despite not spending the years in the gym of her coach and previous record holder Jenny Drane, Nykilchyk as rapidly grasped the requisite intricacies needed for success in a sport that so few will attempt.

"I focus on getting quick acceleration, ensuring speed into the box, and then having a strong core to pull up and get over," she said. 

One of several Lockerby vaulters who have also worked with retired teacher Paul Brunelle, Nykilchyk can quickly attest to the areas where her improvement has been most noticeable, as she has added some three feet in height since her freshman year.

"I'm riding the pole longer and making sure the turn is at the perfect time to be able to get the top amount of height." 

As for the fear factor that causes most to take a pass at venturing on to the pole vault runway, Nykilchyk has perfected the necessary mindset.

"I don't look up at the bar," she said. "I just run up at it and don't worry about it until I am up in the air." 

Her performance was but one of the many noteworthy results on day one of the city meet, with a total of eight records erased from the books.

Ironically, the athletes who now hold the new standard feature an extremely varied background, most notably in terms of their approach to training.

For Collège Notre-Dame middle distance junior André Larocque, less proved to be more, as the double gold medal winner captured both the 800m (2:10.30) and 3000m (9:34.00), the latter in a time that toppled the previous record of Augustin Marks de Chabris (9:39.45 - 2017).

"I started with Track North last month and just followed their program," said Larocque. "I used to over-train a lot earlier in my career. It was just a downfall, and I kept getting injury after injury after injury."

Easing off a little, Larocque would establish a new personal best time while tackling the three kilometer distance, in race conditions, for the first time this spring. "I'm still not 100 per cent," he said. "I'm maybe 80 to 90 per cent, but I am hoping to be at 100 per cent for OFSAA."

Also looking to make some noise at provincials, Lauren Fearn has transitioned nicely from her throwing success at the elementary level to a record setting performance in the discus (26.61m) as a member of the Lo-Ellen Park Knights midget girls team.

"Having success in elementary is not just about how much you can push the shot put, but how quick you can go from one side of the circle to the other, the momentum you can generate into the ball," said Fearn. 

"I wasn't maybe the best thrower, but I had a lot of speed and power in my legs. That translates a little into the discus, with the weight shift."

Throwing an unusual complement to her throwing event tandem (discus/shot put), Fearn would add a second place finish in the 80m hurdles to her resume. Still, in the long run, she understands where exactly she needs to be positioned for a chance to compete with the very best in Ontario next month.

"I enjoy the discus more, because it's a new experience," said Fearn. "I'm not really sure yet which one (discus vs shot put) I will be more suited for, this is my first year doing both. Over the years, one will probably pull away, at some point."

Confederation Chargers' senior Adriana Duncan has reached that point. A multiple event winner at previous city championships, the soon-to-be 17-year-old took home gold in the shot put on Wednesday, setting a new record with a toss of 10.45 meters.

"The shot put is something I've been doing forever, but I just started the discus last year," said Duncan. "I don't have the passion for discus that I have for shot put. I find they are different, just because it feels different in my hand, and the way that I move is different. But you need a lot of power in your legs for both."

Interestingly enough, Duncan was not the only athlete to break the old standard of 9.84 meters (Chantal Scherbak - 2009), with Angelina Lam of Marymount Academy close behind at 10.34 meters.

"We meet up in multiple sports," said Duncan with a laugh. "We wrestle against each other, we played football against each other, we've thrown shot put against each other for the past three years. We've always been neck and neck. We've become pretty good friends. We talk a lot. It's competition, but we're close."

None of the new records that were established were likely quite as unexpected as the 200m dash time of 23.40 from Devon Savignac of the St Charles College Cardinals, substantially lowering the mark that stood for more than ten years (Adam Ritchie - 24.13).

"It's my first really big meet, and the first time using the (starting) blocks too," said Savignac, also a member of the Sudbury Minor Midget "AAA" Wolves team, as he prepares to enter his OHL draft year.

"I ran it (200m) in elementary, like once a year, but never really practiced it. I was surprised I did fairly well." Lo-Ellen Park will take a lead of some 300 points in the team aggregate race into day two of the meet. 

Following is a complete listing of day one winners:

Midget Girls

  • 200m dash - Naomi Palmer (Sacré Coeur) - 27.59
  • 800m - Kalila Bachiu (Lo-Ellen) - 2:36.23
  • 3000m - Kalila Bachiu (Lo-Ellen) - 12:03.09
  • 80m hurdles - Isabel Maki (Lo-Ellen) - 13.40
  • High Jump - Isabelle Scratch (Notre-Dame) - 1.41m
  • Pole Vault - Isabelle Scratch (Notre-Dame) - 2.22m*
  • Discus - Lauren Fearn (Lo-Ellen) - 26.61m*

(*new record)

Midget Boys

  • 200m dash - Devon Savignac (St Charles) - 24.20
  • (23.40 in heats*)
  • 800m - Calum Passi (Lasalle) - 2:16.25
  • 3000m - Calum Passi (Lasalle) - 10:23.00
  • 100m hurdles - Bryce Desabrais (Lo-Ellen) - 15.30*
  • High Jump - Jacob Schweyer (Lo-Ellen) - 1.55m
  • Pole Vault - Will Fabbro (Lo-Ellen) - 2.50m
  • Long Jump - Will Fabbro (Lo-Ellen) - 5.02m
  • Javelin - Jonah Norrie (Lockerby) - 32.44m

Junior Girls

  • 200m dash - Madisyn Papineau (Notre-Dame) - 27.05
  • 800m - Fiona Symington (Lo-Ellen) - 2:38.10
  • 3000m - Delaney Bourget (Lo-Ellen) - 11:35.00
  • 80m hurdles - Hanna Smith (LO-Ellen) - 12.90
  • Pole Vault - Mireille Kingsley (Notre-Dame) - 2.05m
  • Long Jump - Amy Connelly (Confederation) - 4.35m
  • Shot Put - Brianne Morin (Horizon) - 9.61m
  • Javelin - Valerie Honse (Notre-Dame) - 28.15m

Junior Boys

  • 200m dash - Max Villano (St Benedict) - 24.53
  • 800m - André Larocque (Notre-Dame) - 2:10.30
  • 3000m - André Larocque (Notre-Dame) - 9:34.00*
  • 100m hurdles - Nicholas Burke (Lasalle) - 15.40
  • Pole Vault - Logan Drane (Lockerby) - 2.80m
  • Long Jump - Kurtis Wennerstrom (Lo-Ellen) - 6.20m
  • Triple Jump - Kurtis Wennerstrom (Lo-Ellen) - 12.78m
  • Shot Put - Jacques Mathieu (Notre-Dame) - 12.21m

Senior Girls

  • 200m dash - Christina Robert (Lo-Ellen) - 25.69
  • 800m - Natalie Marks de Chabris (Lo-Ellen) - 2:28.35
  • 3000m - Nina Kucheran (Notre-Dame) - 11:41.70
  • 100m hurdles - Jaclyn Groom (Lockerby) - 15.80
  • Pole Vault - Hannah Nykilchyk (Lockerby) - 2.71m*
  • Triple Jump - Harmony Martel (Lockerby) - 10.01m
  • Shot Put - Adriana Duncan (Confederation) - 10.45m*
  • Discus - Angelina Lam (Marymount) - 24.63m
  • 4 X 400m Open Relay - Lo-Ellen Park - 4:23.55

Senior Boys

  • 200m dash - Zach Mainville (Notre-Dame) - 22.32*
  • 800m - Connor Jermyn (Lo-Ellen) - 2:05.50
  • 3000m - Josh Tillson (Lo-Ellen) - 9:53.90
  • 110m hurdles - Brendan Fabbro (Lo-Ellen) - 17.30
  • High Jump - Ethan Ackerland (Macdonald-Cartier) - 1.84m
  • Pole Vault - Jay Norrie (Lo-Ellen) - 3.20m
  • Triple Jump - Callum Bruser (Lo-Ellen) - 12.86m
  • Discus - Christian Rokols (Sudbury Secondary) - 31.84m
  • 4 X 400m Open Relay - Lo-Ellen Park - 3:45.13