Rookie phenom, 2-time Atlantic title winner ready for cross-country championships

·3 min read
St. Francis Xavier University runner Siona Chishom crosses the finish line to win the AUS women's cross-country championship. (Université de Moncton Athletics - image credit)
St. Francis Xavier University runner Siona Chishom crosses the finish line to win the AUS women's cross-country championship. (Université de Moncton Athletics - image credit)

A pair of Nova Scotia runners will be leading the charge for the Atlantic conference when they head to Laval University in Quebec City later this month for the Canadian university cross-country championships.

Siona Chisholm of St. Francis Xavier University and Andrew Peverill of Saint Mary's University were the winners of the women's and men's Atlantic University Sport championships last weekend in Moncton, N.B.

Chisholm's rookie cross-country season has been a remarkable one.

Running for the St. FX team in her hometown of Antigonish, N.S., the 18-year-old, who aspires to become a doctor, has proven to be a dominant force. At the AUS championship she finished first in a field of 48 runners. She won all three of her races in AUS competitions.

She got her college career started by winning a race on a very familiar course.

"It was on my hometown course in Antigonish that I've been running since Grade 5," said Chisholm, who has five older siblings who all ran cross-country. "I didn't really have any expectations coming into this season. I just knew I was going to follow my training and work as hard as I could with my team."

Bryan Kennedy/St. FX Athletics
Bryan Kennedy/St. FX Athletics

The only race Chisholm didn't win this year came in Fredericton and featured runners from Quebec schools up against AUS teams. Chisholm finished second to Laval's Jessy Lacourse in a very tight race.

Laval has one of the best cross-country teams in the country and Chisholm is hoping for a better result against Lacourse and the rest of the field when the U Sport national championship race is held on Nov. 20.

"I'm just really excited to race against all the top university runners in Canada to see what I can do and to be there with my team who have all been training so hard all season long," said Chisholm. "With every race, anything can happen and I just want to run my best race on that day and see what result will follow."

Chisholm will be joined in Quebec City by 13 of her St. FX cross-country teammates, including Sweet's Corner, N.S., siblings Eileen and Jacob Benoit, who finished second in the AUS men's division.

Bryan Kennedy
Bryan Kennedy

While Chisholm has been burning it up in her freshman season, Peverill made it back-to-back AUS cross-country wins. Like Chisholm, the fourth-year commerce student from Lower Sackville, N.S., won every one of his races against AUS competition. At the AUS championship in Moncton, he ran the eight-kilometre course in a time of 25:22.

"It was a fun race as I had Jacob Benoit holding on to me pretty close most of the way," said Peverill. "It really felt good to win it for the second time."

The nationals at Laval could be Peverill's final race as a member of the Huskies cross-country team. Because of COVID, athletes did not lose a year of eligibility last season when there were no competitions. He still has one more year of eligibility, but he's not sure if he will be going back to school for another year.

"I've looked at a couple of possible graduate programs and I still have to make some decisions on where I want to head with that," said Peverill. "It's still up in the air at the moment on whether or not I'll be back."

Peter Oleskevich
Peter Oleskevich

Peverill will be joined at nationals by SMU teammates Rory McGarvey and Teagan Scott.

He started taking his running seriously following Grade 8 when he became a member of the Chebucto Athletics track team.

He also played hockey, lacrosse and soccer when he was younger.

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