Pearo finishes a perfect cross country champion

McMaster women’s cross country runner Jessica Pearo (Richmond Hill, Ont.) finished the 2010 season with a perfect record winning the Canadian Interuniversity Sport individual title in Sherbrooke, Quebec on Saturday.

Pearo concluded the 2010 the season undefeated, winning the Western International, the Sean Earl Loyola Lakefront Invitational in Chicago, the University of Rochester Invitational, and the 2010 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference championship, in addition to the CIS Championship meet.

Pearo finished the 5-km course in a time of 17-minutes 40-seconds beating Guelph’s Rachel Cliff (Vancouver,Ont.) by a full 10-seconds. The race between Pearo and Cliff was close until the final 750-metres when Pearo pulled away from her conference rival and sprinted to the National title.

“I was just trying to hold it together and remain consistent in the last little bit,” said Pearo. “It was pretty muddy just before we came downhill at the end, so I was just trying to maintain what momentum I had.”

Pearo became the first runner in McMaster history to win an individual cross country title. She also made the All-Canadian team for the fourth consecutive season.

It was also the sixteenth consecutive season that the CIS individual champion came from a school in Ontario.

Crossing the finish line shortly after Pearo was second year Geography and Political Science student Victoria Coates (Newmarket, Ont.) Coates finished fifth in a time of 18:34 blowing past Calgary’s Madeline MacDonald and Guelph’s Courtney Laurie on the final turn to secure her top five finish and a place on the All-Canadian first team. Coates, having battled health issues in her rookie season in 2009, improved 93 spots over her 98th place finish at last year’s championship. She also improved her CIS time by 1:09.5.

Coates finished in the same spot that Pearo did at the 2009 CIS Championship in Kingston, Ontario. She also continued a family tradition of success at CIS Championships. Her older brother Andrew was the 2007-2008 CIS Track & Field Champion in the 3000 metre at the University of Windsor. He was one of a number of numerous McMaster supporters at the championship to cheer on his younger sister’s All-Canadian performance.

In her first CIS Championship, Stephanie MacNeil (Oakville, Ont.) narrowly missed making the All-Canadian team finishing 16th in a time of 19:03 only sixth seconds and two places outside of All-Canadian honours.

Rounding out the scoring five for the Marauders where Courtney Patterson (Dundas, Ont.) and Katie Anderson (Exeter, Ont.) Patterson placed 22nd in a time of 19:19, improving upon her 54th place finish at her first CIS Championship in 2009. Anderson was two seconds behind Patterson in 23rd spot improving upon her 49th place finish last year.

As a team, the women improved upon on their program best 2009 CIS bronze medal finish by setting a new program standard winning silver in 2010. The Marauders’ score of 67 was half as much as the 143 they scored in 2009. McMaster was edged by Guelph 33 to 67 for the team title. Guelph also improved their team score in 2010 lowering it 24 points from the 57 they scored in 2009.

Andrew Yorke (Caledon East, Ont.), also a high performance triathlete, continued to show how he has made a positive transition to the cross country course by placing 21st in a time of 33:32 as the first McMaster male across the line in the men’s 10-km race. Fifth senior Larry Abbott (Sarnia, Ont.), competing in his final CIS Cross Country Championship, placed 35th in a time of 34:08. Taylor Reid (Terra Cotta, Ont.) was 54th, rookie Jordan Bierema (Uxbridge, Ont.) 56th, and Cory McCurry (Bright’s Grove, Ont.) 80th to round out the scoring five.

The men’s team recorded a 238 to tie Manitoba for eighth spot, but the tie breaker went to the Bisons as their fifth runner crossed the finish line ahead of the fifth McMaster runner.

The Gryphon women claimed their sixth straight team title, while the men captured the banner for the fifth year in a row. With the double-championship, the Gryphons increased their CIS-record for team titles to 17, four more than second-place Victoria.