Pearo brings gold home for McMaster

McMaster Jessica Pearo (Richmond Hill) captured the individual gold medal at the Ontario University Athletics cross-country championships on Saturday (Oct. 30).

Pearo, the fourth-year, three-time All-Canadian, has gone undefeated this season and finished the race with a time of 17:00.04. Pearo passed Guelph’s Rachael Cliff (Vancouver), who led for most of the way, in the final minutes of the race to take the gold medal. Cliff placed second in 17:13.5 and with teammate Courtney Laurie (Toronto) coming in third in 17:43.6, the Gryphons claimed the women’s team title for a seventh straight time.

Cliff placed third place last year.

McMaster’s Victoria Coates finished fourth, while Gryphon’s Emily Driedger (Georgetown) and Genevieve Lalonde (Moncton, Ont.) were fifth and sixth respectively. Driedger was named the OUA rookie of the Year.

Joining Pearo as first-team all-stars was teammate Stephanie MacNeill. Katies Anderson made the second-team.

The Gryphons earned 24 points for the OUA title, their seventh consecutive OUA women’s title, winning 10 of the last 12. The McMaster Marauders gave the Gryphons a good challenge and finished with the silver medal with 24 points while the Queens Gaels grabbed third with 110 points.

The Gryphon men’s teams emphasized Guelph cross-country dominance by winning a sixth straight crown in front of an excited hometown crowd. The Gryphons have once again proved they’re in a class of its own.

“It was a good day for us. The women ran a little harder than planned, they got excited with the hometown crowd. Our guys went out on a progression, so early on they didn’t open it up as hard as they could and then they pushed off the backend, and that was the plan. So the guys stuck right to the plan and it played out well,” said Guelph head coach Dave Scott Thomas.

On the men’s side, the Gryphons swept the medal podium and had five of the top six runners. Alex Genest (Lac Aux Sables, QC), led the Gryphons after finishing the 10 kilometre course in a time of 30:30.5 and was named the men’s OUA MVP. Genest transferred to Guelph this year from the Universite De Sherbrooke. He is the 2007 CIS champion and the 2006 CIS rookie of the year.

“It feels really good to be here in Ontario now and training with this amazing group. It was a great day for the Gryphons. I didn’t know if I would win, I was going for the win that’s for sure, but you never know. The guys here are really fit and anybody could have won this race. I guess it was my turn today, and I’m really happy I won here in Guelph,” said Genest.

Finishing nine seconds behind Genest was teammate Kyle Boorsma (Guelph) who won back-to-back OUA silvers with a time of 30:39.5. Allan Brett (Ottawa), the two-time defending OUA champion finished third with a time of 31:00.5. Finishing fourth for the Gryphons was first year Ross Proudfoot (Sudbury) with a time 31:19.0, Proudfoot was named the OUA men’s rookie of the year for his performance.

Only Anthony Berkis of the Windsor Lancers was able to infiltrate the lead Guelph pack, finishing fifth at 31:25.5. Rounding out the top seven were Gryphon Andrew Nixon and Dave Weston from the Windsor Lancers who were sixth and seventh respectively.

McMaster’s Andrew Yorke was a second-team all-star.

The Gryphons earned 16 points for the OUA team title, their sixth straight and tenth since 1999. The Windsor Lancers finished second with 42 points while the Western Mustangs were third with 86 points.

The top seven runners in the men’s and women’s race earn OUA first team all-star status. Finishers eight through 14 are second team all-stars.

Overall the Gryphon women and men’s teams claimed six OUA all-star honours apiece.

The Gryphons will now get ready for the CIS Championships which are being hosted by Sherbrooke on Nov. 13.