Paula Schnurr wins U Sports award for cross country coach of the year
Cross country head coach received national honours after first victory at U Sports championship since 1963
McMaster cross country head coach Paula Schnurr was named the U Sports men’s Fox 40 Coach of the Year following this year’s national championships on Nov. 12. Winning their first title since 1963, the men placed first in the country while the women finished seventh overall.
In 1988, Schnurr set the national record for the women’s 1,500 metre race with her time of 4:16:41. That same year, Schnurr was named the top performer at the Canadian Inter-university Athletic Union championships, she was given her fourth Thérèse Quigley award for McMaster’s best female athlete of the year and was inducted into the McMaster athletics hall of fame.
Schnurr’s talents brought her to the international stage, making two appearances for Canada’s Summer Olympics team in 1992 and 1996. At the 1994 Commonwealth Games, Schnurr collected a silver medal in the 1,500 metre event.
In 2010, Schnurr assumed the role of head coach for McMaster’s cross country program. Over the last few years, Schnurr and the men’s cross-country team have developed into household names atop the national leaderboards.
The men recorded their first Ontario University Athletics gold under Schnurr’s tenure in 2018, led by a gold medal outing from then-sophomore runner Max Turek. Following their performance, Schnurr received the OUA award for the men’s cross country coach of the year, making history as the award’s first-ever female recipient.
That season, the men earned bronze at the national U Sports championships, missing second place by a five point margin to the Guelph Gryphons. Most recently, the men captured provincial silver and national bronze in 2021 to continue an illustrious stretch of seasons for the team.
Prior to this year’s championships, Schnurr brought the men and women’s teams to OUA excellence, winning gold and silver respectively before heading into nationals. Coming in as the top team in the national power rankings, the men closed out a phenomenal season by securing the U Sports title.
On route to his third U Sports athlete of the week award, Turek completed an exceptional year after finishing the race in first with a time of 24:21. His run marks a perfect season for the Marauders, who also received gold medals in the Western Invitational, the Marauder Bayfront Open and the OUA championships.
Andrew Davies and Alex Drover placed third and fifth respectively to give the Marauders three runners in the top five. Dylan Alick finished the race in thirteenth place with a time of 25:10, while Sam Nusselder’s showing of 25:14 was good for fifteenth overall. Self-titled “The Flying V”, the five’s total of 37 was good for 78 points above the second-placed Laval Rouge et Or.
“It’s been a four, five year process for this group because they’ve come through the team together. Each year they were improving and getting so close . . . so [winning nationals] was really the focus all season,” said Schnurr.
On the women’s side, OUA bronze medalist Rosalyn Barrett was the top runner for McMaster, coming in thirtieth with a time of 30:20. Hannah Goodjohn and Sarah Nolan recorded thirty-sixth and fifty-first finishes on the way to a seventh place team performance with 222 points. The Rouge et Or scored 49 points to win the women’s title.
After the races, Turek, Davies and Drover were named First Team All-Canadians, while Alick was awarded Second Team honours. Schnurr was given the Fox 40 Coach of the Year award for helping the Marauders to their first national title in 59 years.
“The goal is to help my athletes get better and the team get better. If I get recognized for the little part I play because they were the ones out running, then it’s a nice honour . . . When you have talented athletes, they make any coach look good,” said Schnurr.
With their top five runners graduating this year, the men’s team successfully capitalized on their immense wealth of talent with a championship banner. Going forward, the program looks to continue its dominance and develop its youth under Schnurr’s expertise and mentorship.