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NAC track and field preview: OFA’s Bouchard a multi-talented athlete

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Taylor Bouchard’s senior year at Ogdensburg Free Academy is as good as it gets.

In the fall, he supplied shutdown play at cornerback in a football season that culminated with unforgettable overtime victory over Potsdam in the Section 10 Class C title game and a big-play bonanza victory over Saranac Lake in the North Country title game.

In the winter, Bouchard was one of the leading scorers and emotional leaders for an indoor track field team that ended Malone’s six-year reign on the Overall Section 10 Championship.

In the championship meet, he uncoiled a personal-best 40-foot, 10-inch leap to place second in the triple jump and combined with Section 10 Running MVP Donnie Smith, Jake Sias and Taylor Richardson on the winning 1,600-meter relay team.

The Devils outscored Malone 111-91 and took their place in history as one of the best indoor teams in school history.

Cognizant of OFA’s rich traditions in track and field, Bouchard is looking to continue his tangible and intangible leadership as the Devils look to contend for NAC and Section 10 championships in outdoor track. The Devils hope to make a strong showing at the 91st Van Dusen Invitational on May 17.

“When I first started in track, guys (like) Jake Fredericks and Nick Crawford were really good to me. They were guys that you wanted to talk to, and they always helped the younger guys,” said Bouchard, who will join Crawford and Fredericks (assistant coach) in the St. Lawrence University track program in the fall.

“Now I really like doing that and we have other seniors, guys like Donnie Smith and Collin Sovie, who are very good leaders,” Bouchard added. “We have a lot of different personalities on our team but it is great the way everyone comes together. We stick together in and out of school.”

OFA coach John Tebo says that Bouchard’s dedication is key.

“Taylor is one of the those athletes that Steve Barlow (retired OFA coach and high school principal) used to call trackathletes. He just loves the sport and works very hard and can do several events,” Tebo said.

“I think he’s one of those guys who can go to college and become a multi-event performer. He is strong and fast.”

Bouchard, the defending Section 10 outdoor champion in the high jump and triple jump, is looking to use that versatility to help OFA succeed against strong competition.

“I am ready to do any event that coach wants me to do: long jump, high jump, triple jump, 4x400 relay or 400 hurdles. That is why I love track (and) field so much. It is such a great team sport because you can contribute in many ways and so many people contribute to a victory,” Bouchard said.

“I really enjoy running relays because it is four guys working together perfectly,” he added. “I am really looking forward to our 4-by-4.”

Tebo said that Bouchard displays the qualities that makes a coach smile.

“Taylor Bouchard is like a lot of people on this team who do well in school, get involved in a lot of activities and hold part-time jobs,” Tebo said.

“He balances his time and works very hard.”

Bouchard said that the work ethic will be important in the outdoor season, where he sees defending outdoor champion Malone mounting a strong title defense.

“Malone is going to be extremely tough and we have to replace a great jumper in Sebastian Quintilliani who plays baseball, from our indoor team,” Bouchard said.

“But we have a lot of guys who can step up. Donnie Smith is going to have a great year, Jake and Alex Sias are really going jump and run well, Joe Gruzzuto is going to be all over the scoresheet, and we some young guys who are going to be good. Kevin Joanette jumped 5-6 in our first outside practice. Not many people can do that.”

NAC OUTLOOK

Malone’s boys and Canton’s girls were the dominant teams last season, but only Canton returns its top runners.

Malone won the boys crown at the Section 10 championship meet with 187 points. Gouverneur was second and Potsdam third. The top returning boys athletes are Bouchard, Potsdam’s Peter Clark is a defending champion in the 110 hurdles.

Canton’s girls cruised to the title with 176 points ahead of Malone’s 104. The Golden Bears bring back Laura Pierce, a defending state champion, to lead the distance races. Twins Gemma DelRossi (800) and Rebecca DelRossi (400) are also defending sectional champions.

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