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High school athlete takes unlikely path to OFSAA

Sam Larouche represented Geraldton Composite High School in the senior boys javelin event at the provincial high school track and field championships.
Sam Larouche, left, poses with Wyatt Beaudry after they won medals at the Northwestern Ontario Secondary Schools Athletics Association championships in Thunder Bay on May 29. Larouche, who is in Grade 11 at Geraldton Composite High School, went on to represent the school at OFSAA in London.

GERALDTON – Sam Larouche is the type of student-athlete who is ready to take on any sport.

However, his path to this year’s Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) track and field championships was a bit of an unlikely one.

While most of the competitors in the senior boys javelin had been competing in the event for a long time, the Grade 11 student from Geraldton Composite High School only made his first throw this spring.

“I really wanted to make it to OFSAA and I had seen the competition the year before (at the NWOSSA district meet in Thunder Bay) and I knew that I wasn't the fastest guy so I wasn’t going to win any running events,” Larouche said.

“I thought I could throw a javelin and I turned out to be naturally good at it. I wasn’t way better than everybody else as I knew that most of the guys I would be competing against have been throwing for a few years.

“It was a surprise to me with how far I was throwing it, but I was still a little nervous about going into the competition.”

At the NWOSSA (Northwestern Ontario Secondary Schools Athletics Association) championships on May 29 at Fort William Stadium, Larouche was in a back-and-forth battle with Eric Blazino of St. Ignatius.

In the end, Larouche made a throw of 42.38 metres to win the gold medal over Blazino, who finished second with a toss of 42.06m.

“As soon as I threw it, I had a feeling that it was pretty good, but you don’t know until it lands,” Larouche said.

“When I found out that I had won, it was a bit of a blur. I was excited to be going to OFSAA but it wasn’t like I had been doing this for years or anything like that. It was a month-and-a-half of hard work.”

Camille Vernier, who is a co-coach for the Geraldton track and field team alongside Ryan Schram, watched with Larouche’s teammates as he went for the title.

“We were all sweating watching it,” Vernier said. “It was just so close the whole time and we were on the edge of our seats.”

After earning his spot at OFSAA, Larouche embarked on a canoe trip with the Geraldton Composite High School Outers Club.

Then he made his way to London for the all-Ontario championships, where he got a true sense of how big of a stage he was competing on.

“Those top athletes are in a whole other league than me,” Larouche said. “Seeing their form and everything – they gave me a ton of motivation.

“I’ve got to work harder and I want to get to their level.”

Larouche finished in 22nd place with a best throw of 40.70m, which came on his final attempt of the season.

“I was a little disappointed that I didn’t beat my personal best from districts, but I was still happy with how I went and I know what I have to do to get better for next year with a lot more practice under my belt,” Larouche said.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing after I graduated from high school next year, but if I could get good enough to compete at college or university . . . I would be more than happy to do it.”

There’s a chance that Larouche could have a teammate who will also be challenging for an OFSSA spot next spring.

Grade 9 student Wyatt Beaudry finished second at the NWOSSA meet in the novice shot put event with a toss of 10.50m. Aiden Fummerton of Lake Superior High School in Terrace Bay won the competition with a throw of 10.82m.

“We’re such a small school and having many students succeeding like Wyatt and Sam gives you hope,” Vernier said

“We had students that were competing in events that may have finished lower in the standings and I was thinking ‘Oh my goodness, they are going to be so bummed out,’ and they came up to me and said ‘I ran the best time that I’ve ever run.’

“That gets you excited as a coach as we continue to build the program.”