NCAA veteran helping Muskies to keep on track

Joey Payeur

Tara Allaire is the first to declare her university athletics career was nothing to get excited about.
“We don’t really need to talk about that,” chuckled the new co-coach for the Muskie track-and-field team, which heads into its first meet of the season tomorrow at Falls High School.
Allaire, a native of Red Rock, received an NCAA scholarship to Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C., where she competed for the Campbell Lady Camels in the Big South Conference—or at least she wanted to.
“I was injured the whole time—it wasn’t a great experience,” she admitted about hurting her knee seriously enough that it kept her sidelined for the duration of her time at Campbell.
Allaire recently moved to Fort Frances to become the new development co-ordinator of marketing and events for the Rainy River Future Development Corp. and brought a wealth of wisdom with her which she hopes to pass along to the Muskie squad.
“The reason I wanted to do track in the first place was that I was from a small town and I wanted to get out of there,” she noted.
“In track, everything is measurable,” she added. “In Grade 8, I knew I wanted to get my university paid for.
“Track is something you can do by yourself no matter what level you are at and it’s truly something that if you put in the work, you’ll see the results.”
Allaire specialized in distance running and cross-country running in high school, making it logical for her to be the main coach working with the Muskies’ lone distance runner: “victory lap” team veteran Arthur Van Ael.
“So far he’s been doing well,” she said.
“We were getting a base of heavier mileage in first,” she noted. “That’s the tough part; the boring part.
“Now we’re getting into the quicker part and getting the legs running fast.”
Allaire said she gets pleasure from seeing the gradual improvement in those with which she shares her guidance.
“I coached at an elementary school the past two years and it’s nice to see from the beginning of the year to the end the progress they have made,” she remarked.
“You want to make sure they understand it’s important to have small goals, which is something you can translate to every aspect of life.”
The Muskies are coming off a season which featured Grade 9 rookie Sekina Scheibler shock the province—and make history—as just the third individual Muskie to win gold at the all-Ontarios, when he captured first place in the Midget boys’ discus in Toronto.
Scheibler was one of four Muskies to qualify for OFSAA last year.
With Mitchell Argue (senior boys’ 100m and 400m) having graduated, and team captain Jenny Hammond (senior girls’ 400m and 800m) currently vying for a spot on the Muskie girls’ soccer team, Jason Bazylewski (junior boys’ discus) is the only other member of the quartet back for certain this year.
“If Jenny doesn’t make the soccer team, I think she’ll be back with us,” said Allaire.
“She’s a beautiful runner.”
Other veterans on the team include Jacob Empey, who will be striving to erase the partial disappointment of last year.
Empey made it to OFSAA in the junior boys’ long jump and triple jump two years ago, and earned silver at NWOSSAA last season in the senior boys’ triple jump despite fighting an illness.
But his distance didn’t meet the OFSAA qualifying standard—leaving him out of the mix for the all-Ontarios.
Returnee Jyllian Westover will be a contender again in the junior girls’ 100m and high jump, the latter of which also will feature veterans Tory Beaudry and Ellie Petsnick.
Taylor Steinke (shot put/discus), Harleigh Brow-Rose (400m), Madison Morrison (long jump), and Cayla Leimenstoll (400m/3,000m) bring extra experience to the table from last season.
Among the newcomers to watch for will be Hanna LeDrew, who will be doing high jump among other events.
Roughly 20 Muskies will kick off the season tomorrow after the team declined to start it yesterday in Baudette in a bid to lower travel costs.