Head coach Jason Reindl and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s track & field and cross country programs are excited to announce that one of the top young runners in North America will be joining them next season after Avery Pearson of Meadow Lake, Sask. declared that she would be staying close to home for her university career.
Holding scholarship offers from some of the most prestigious programs across both Canada and America, the product of Carpenter High will bring national medals, provincial records and more to the Huskies.
“Avery is one of the top recruits in the nation for 2021 graduates. Her national medals, personal bests, provincial records, commitment to excellence, academic achievements, and desire to contribute to Huskie team success are all key aspects of what we look for in Huskie athletes. She is a 10/10 in all of those areas and we are very happy to have her joining us next year,” said Reindl.
At the 2019 Legion National U18 Championships, Pearson won a gold medal for Team Saskatchewan in the 800m (2:08.71s) which broke the Saskatchewan U18 and U20 provincial records, and a silver medal in the 400m in a time of 55.35s. She also joined her provincial teammates in the 4x400m relay to win gold in a time of 3:48.28s which was also a U18 provincial record. A few months later she finished 4th at the U18 Canadian cross country championships.
It isn’t just athletically that Pearson stands out however, as the product of Carpenter Lake who has grandparents and parents that are alumni of USask also carries a team-first attitude despite her individual success.
“I have chosen to attend USask because it is a respected university and I will be close to home with family support,” said Pearson. “I am excited to become a Huskie because it means I will be a part of a team built of like-minded, hardworking athletes. My biggest goal as a Huskie is to be a contributing and valuable team member.”
Pearson will be joining a cross country program that has improved each and every year under Reindl, including claiming third place at the Canada West championships and seventh at U SPORTS national championships last season, the team’s best marks since 2012 and 2011 respectively.
The talent and depth that is propelling the team to new heights includes an abundance of homegrown power. In 2021-2022, Pearson will be joining Courtney Hufsmith (5th year, Saskatoon: 2019 World University Games bronze medallist in the 1500-m), Kaitlyn Harrison (2nd year, Lumsden: 2019 U SPORTS second team All-Canadian and Canada West cross country first team All-Star), Allison Grajczyk-Jelinski (2nd year, Moose Jaw: 2020 Canada West track & field bronze medallist in the 3000-m), and Jenna McFadyen (1st year, Maidstone: 2019 National U18 silver medallist in the 2000-m steeplechase and 5th place in the 3000m). This is in addition to last year’s national 7th place team members Hillary Mehlhorn (5th year, Regina), Natalia Bidulka (4th year, Vonda), and Jaira Cross Child (2nd year, Saskatoon).
“When I shared the news with our current team and staff, it was like they all got a birthday present. Everyone knows who Avery is, her athletic achievements, and how focused we have been on trying to garner her commitment,” said Reindl. “Our entire team is focused on team success and they are all extremely excited to have Avery joining them as a teammate.”
As the cross country team continues to build, Reindl and his staff have some lofty goals in their sights. With program-best finishes of second in the conference (three times) and third in the nation (1997) to compete with, they are aiming to continue pushing past those marks.
“We aren’t going to be shy in saying that we have big goals for 2021 and beyond. We have exceptional leadership within the team and a ton of young talent just starting their university athletic careers. Combined with endurance coaches Jamie Epp and Murray McCormick, who have proven to be remarkable coaches in helping our student-athletes develop into the best athletes that they can be, I have no doubt that Avery is going to be another amazing Huskie, and help our program for many years to come,” said Reindl.
It isn’t just outdoors where Pearson figures to help the Huskies however, as the talented recruit is poised to become yet another in a long line of nationally acclaimed members of the Huskie track & field squad.
In the midst of a three-year streak atop the Canada West, the Huskies have claimed 24 conference banners in program history, the highest mark in the conference. The Huskies have national finishes of second and fourth in the past two seasons to go along with those conference championships but it is perhaps individually where they have been most impressive. In back-to-back years Julianne Labach and Michelle Harrison have been named both the Canada West and U SPORTS female track athletes of the year.
“An athlete like Avery is going to assist us in our pursuit of being the number one program in the nation,” said Reindl.