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Jennifer Boland has been a fast learner

Newfoundland and Labrador sprinter Jennifer Boland (second from right) races down the track during a heat in the women’s 100 metres at the Canada Games in Winnipeg. Boland ended up in Thursday’s B final, where she set a personal best and provincial record in the event.
Newfoundland and Labrador sprinter Jennifer Boland (second from right) races down the track during a heat in the women’s 100 metres at the Canada Games in Winnipeg. Boland ended up in Thursday’s B final, where she set a personal best and provincial record in the event.

Winnipeg — Her brother might be the better hockey player in the household, but Jennifer Boland is the fastest.

The 18-year-old sprinter from St. John’s is a member of Newfoundland and Labrador’s athletics team at the 2017 Canada Summer Games, and it’s here in Winnipeg where her older sibling, Tyler Boland, hopes to turn pro, a tryout looming next month with the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose.

Jennifer Boland played hockey, too, and was part of Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador’s Program of Excellence teams, skating on the under-16 squad for three winters and playing U18 for one year.

Boland actually stumbled on sprinting, electing to use the sport as a training tool for her hockey.

But a funny thing happened on the track. She found out she was good … real good.

Training under Doug Halliday, Boland was winning races and beginning to have second thoughts about hockey.

Hockey is a big-ticket item in the Boland household. Besides Tyler, her father, Joe, the new chief of police, was a pretty fine player back in the day in the Avalon East circuit, in addition to being a Hall of Fame softball player.

“I loved playing hockey,” she said, “but when I quit (two years ago), I was breaking (track) records and I wanted to take it to the next level.

“I figured sacrificing hockey had to be done.”

She still played school hockey with Gonzaga, but track was her new passion. She has since switched coaches, now training under Canada Games mentor Jennifer Stender.

“She’s a very talented athlete,” said Stender, “but she’s also a very hard worker and dedicated. She never misses a practice.

“She’s very coachable … a pleasure to coach, actually.”

Boland takes a very businesslike approach to her training through the winter, working with lead strength and conditioning specialist Jerome Brennan at the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre, in addition to Stender and the Memorial Sea-Hawks varsity squad at the Field House.

“Oh my God,” she said, “there’s a lot of work in the winter. Endurance workouts three times a week, speed twice a week.”

Last season, her first as a Sea-Hawk, Boland won a bronze medal in the 60 metres at the Atlantic University Sport championship. She didn’t run the 300 metres because it was scheduled the day before the 60, and she wanted to save her legs.

“Next season I’ll do both,” she said.

Boland ran the Canada Games 100 metres B final Thursday afternoon, and while she finished eighth, her time of 12.32 seconds was a personal best and a new provincial record for the women’s 100m.

“I came out a little bit slow, but usually the second half of my race is the stronger half, anyway, so I picked it up towards the end.

“It was good. I don’t have any complaints.”

The performance was especially noteworthy considering Boland was running with a sore hamstring.

She tore the muscle in May, 2016, and spent last summer rehabbing the injury. She strained the same leg in June in Halifax, and didn’t even compete in the Canada Games Trials.

“For her to come back and to get a PB, and a provincial record,” said Stender, “is amazing.”

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

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