Mac cross country runners recognized for efforts on and off paths

McMaster Marauders’ Jessica Pearo is this year’s recipient of the Ontario University Athletics cross country female student-athlete community service award.

Most recently, Pearo, of Richmond Hill, volunteered as a marshal for the Terry Fox Run held on McMaster’s campus in September, helping with the coordination of marshals for the event.

Last December, Pearo participated in the Salvation Army Christmas gift handout, helping to organize the distribution of donated gifts to disadvantaged families. In addition, Pearo has volunteered her time collecting donations through the Salvation Army Christmas “kettles” campaign. For the past four years, she has volunteered during the holiday season collecting donations for this very worthwhile campaign.

In the summer of 2007, Pearo traveled to Panama for 10 days with the Salvation Army and aided in the construction of a home for a disadvantaged family.

Her award was among several cross country honours announced Thursday by the OUA. In addition to Pearo, who was also named a first team all-star, two other Marauders were named all-stars. Jillian Wyman (Dundas) and Sara Giovannetti (Mississauga) were selected to the second team.

The Guelph Gryphons cap off a fantastic running season with major award recognition.

The men’s team coach of the year honour is given to Guelph’s Dave Scott-Thomas, who led the men’s team to a fifth consecutive OUA championship this year and their ninth since 1999. This year’s award makes it the 13th for the long-time cross-country coach, signifying his vast contributions to the University of Guelph’s varsity cross-country program, as well as the sport as a whole. His men finished 1-2-3-5-6 at the OUA championship, setting an OUA record for lowest team score of 17, displacing the Windsor Lancers former mark of 18 set in 2003.

Curt Bolton of the Queen’s Gaels is the coach of the year on the women’s side. Bolton has been with the program for 35 years, when he started as an assistant track and field coach. In 1977, he became the co-head coach of the women’s team for 12 years and led the team to the first-ever Ontario Women’s Interuniversity Athletic Association (OWIAA) championship in 1977. He helped the women’s team to two more OWIAA titles in 1978 and 1979. After a decade off from coaching, Bolton returned to Queen’s women’s cross-country team in 2000 as an assistant coach and took over head coach duties last year. The Gaels finished third in the 2009 OUA championship last Saturday.

The OUA male student-athlete community service award is presented to Queen’s Matt Hulse (Hartington). The fourth-year physical education student has been tremendously involved in his community and dedicates his time to many causes and organizations.

Husle volunteers as the deputy officer for special projects in the AMS (Queen’s student government) sustainability office. In this position, he is responsible for setting up and providing students with information and opportunities t o get involved with sustainability issues and projects on campus.

Husle also travelled to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 24 to take part in the global action day known as “350”, in which people in 170 countries gathered to demonstrate and let world leaders know their opinions on climate change. Husle also has a volunteer placement working with a girl with cerebral palsy, helping her with exercises and stretches.

While on student exchange at the University of Western Australia in the winter of 2009, Husle became involved in the Trinity College residence community service and environment committee. He organized and directed a college energy and water challenge: a competition that took place over eight weeks between the five residential colleges at the school. Throughout the eight weeks, he educated the residents on various topics including water, energy, waste, recycling, climate change, and composting.

The OUA most valuable runners by virtue of their victories last Saturday at the OUA cross-country championships are Allan Brett (Ottawa) of the Gryphons and Megan Brown (Toronto) of the Toronto Varsity Blues. Genevieve Lalonde (Moncton, N.B.) of the Gryphons and Andrew Nixon (Thunder Bay, Ont.) of the Lakehead Thunderwolves are women’s and men’s rookies of the year, respectively.