Alysha Gjos flashes that winning smile after capturing the senior girls cross-country running title.
Her vision's a perfect 20-20 and Wednesday, Alysha Gjos displayed the heart and legs to match.
The 16-year-old from St. Mary's College turned a dream into reality by finishing first in the Senior Girls Division, 5-kilometre race at the annual City High School Cross Country Championships at Kinsmen Park.
Saying she "visualized winning the race," the Grade 11 student credited her Lake Superior Figure Skating Club coach, Ilvana Coletti.
"She (Coletti) always tells me to visualize success and that's what I did," said Gjos, who finished fifth in the city as a junior competitor one year ago. "I saw myself in a tie and then taking over the race at the end. I dreamed about winning this."
Gjos's dream proved anything but for the rest of the field.
Finishing in a time of 21:27.32, Gjos sped to a relatively easy victory over second-place finisher Rhiannon Johns (21:54.42) of Sir James Dunn, who won the junior class a year ago.
"I'm a little surprised by how I did, but I was more determined to win this year," Gjos said. "I've trained harder this year. I'd like to try for a running scholarship in the States next year."
Gjos, who didn't assume the lead until the latter stages of the race, said she was completely focused on defeating one of her arch-rivals.
"She (Johns) had beaten me last year in cross-country and in track," said Gjos. "I really wanted to beat her and this is the biggest thrill I've ever had in high school sports."
Mike DeVuono, who, along with Karen McLean, serves as a co-coach with the Knights, had trouble expressing just how proud he was of the young runner.
"She's been doing a lot of interval training and that really helped her," DeVuono said.
"It was a good race and quite a battle," said Johns, who admitted to feeling both dizzy and exhausted afterwards. "Alysha had a great race and I'm happy for her. But as nice as it would have been to win as an individual, I'm just as happy for our team."
SJD got by St. Mary's to grab the senior girls team title, part of the aggregate girls and overall aggregate championships. Korah was second in both categories.
The Dunn's Christine Thomas (22:02.94) placed third, followed by teammate Nora Beth Saunders (22:08.71). Jessica Nanne (22:19.82) of St. Mary's was fifth.
Samantha Filek (19:44.05) of the Eagles outdistanced the field to win the 4-km event, besting teammate Chelsea Griswold (19:57.43).
St. Basil's Heather Bedell (20:01.41) wound up third, followed by Kaitlin Morin (20:14.76) of St. Mary's. SJD's Hilary Mallinger (20:36.71) placed fifth. The Dunn topped Korah in team standings.
SJD's Carly Wetzl (14:37.72) secured a convincing 3-km victory over runner-up Amanda Martin (15:05.84) of St. Mary's. The Knights Erin Murphy (15:17.41) was third, followed by the Dunn's Jessica Schell (15:36.13). Katelyn Speers (15:36.79) of White Pines rounded out the top five.
SJD edged Korah for the team title.
The top two five-member teams in all three divisions, qualify for the Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (NOSSA) championships, Oct. 27 in Sudbury.
The three next best individual runners, who haven't already qualified as part of a team, are also NOSSA eligible.