Tied together by their determination to win the steeplechase, both Annie Reader of St. Basil and Tessa Kasch of St. Mary's shone at this year's Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (NOSSA) track and field meet.
The annual two-day event concluded Friday night in North Bay.
Reader won the 1,500-metre, girls open event and Kasch, the defending NOSSA steeplechase champion, finished third.
But both completed the meet with two first-place finishes and a top-three placing in another event.
Besides the steeplechase, Reader, a 15-year-old Grade 9 student, also won the midget 3,000m in a record-setting time of 11:29.88.
She placed second in the midget 1,500m.
Along with her third-place showing in the steeplechase, Kasch, who's 18 and in Grade 12, won both the senior 1,500m and 3,000m races.
"I did my best and I'm really happy," said Reader, who'll lead Sault athletes into the three-day, Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championships, slated to begin Thursday in Toronto.
"I'm really excited by how I did," said Kasch, who plans to attend Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky., in the fall. "This definitely was my best NOSSA and I'm happy to go out this way."
Several other local competitors were also outstanding.
The group included Sir James Dunn's Lynnea Lobert, who won both the junior girls 1,500m, in a record time of 5:01.65, and the 3,000m.
Anna-Lee Policicchio of St. Mary's grabbed first place in both the discus, with a record toss of 27.87 metres, and the shot put.
In midget boys competition, Korah's Corey Conforzi (100m, 200m) and St. Basil's Marc Rouleau (shot put, discus) were double gold-medal winners.
Two other Sault competitors set records:Bradley Walsh of SJD won the junior boys high jump by clearing 1.79 metres, while Riley Bradford of St. Basil won the midget boys 300m hurdles in :44.47.
Meanwhile, two-time defending champion SJD placed second in team aggregate standings to Lo-Ellen Park of Sudbury.
The Dunn has won 11 of the last 13 NOSSA team titles.
Out of 37 schools, St. Mary's was fourth in team standings and St. Basil finished sixth.
Korah was 11th, one place higher than White Pines. Central Algoma Secondary School of Desbarats finished 13th.
Of her two victories, Reader called the steeplechase her biggest.
She said she was nervous beforehand, knowing Kasch was determined to beat her.
"I was second for almost the whole race," Reader said. "But I got closer to the front on the last lap and then I sprinted past the last steeple." She also spoke of how proud she was of her 3,000m record.
"I ran that race a lot faster than my city time," Reader explained. "I pushed the pace. I'm surprised by my finishes at the city and NOSSA meets. I didn't expect to do this well."
While disappointed at not repeating in the steeplechase, Kasch was philosophical.
"It wasn't in the cards. It wasn't my race this year and I accept that," she said.
But Kasch was beaming over her 1,500m and 3,000m victories.
She didn't expect to win the 1,500m and actually fell into fourth place with 300m remaining.
"As soon as I got passed and dropped into fourth, I told myself that there was no way I was going to lose the race," Kasch recounted. "With 200 metres to go I gave it my all and winning was so good."
In the 3,000m, Kasch said she was neck-and-neck with the Dunn's Nora Saunders for nearly the entire race.
"We were back-and-forth (holding the lead)," Kasch said. "But with 200 metres left I just sprinted and gave it my all."
Saunders wound up in second place, finishing nearly six seconds back of Kasch.
Other top performances by locals:
Kaitlin Morin of St. Mary's won the 400m and was third in the 200m. The Dunn's Hilary Rock placed second in the high jump, while teammate Alexis Shamess was third in both the 400m and 800m.
SJD's Trisha Francis (100m), Riley Hodgson (400m hurdles) and Korah's Sophie Kargl (1,500m) all grabbed third-place showings. The Dunn won the 4-by-100m relay and finished second, one spot ahead of White Pines, in the 4-by-400m relay.
Richard MacLennan of St. Mary's won the 400m and wound up third in the 800m. The Knights Mike Paluzzi placed second in the 110m hurdles, while teammate Devon Cavanagh (1,500m and 3,000m) and Colton King of CASS (triple jump and high jump) both posted a pair of third-place showings.
Sean Plumley of White Pines (400m), St. Basil's Riley Lytwynec (400m hurdles) and Rob Gallinger of CASS (long jump) all placed third.
The Dunn won the 4-by-100m relay while St. Mary's finished second in that race and also in the 4-by-400m relay.
Liza Ritchie of White Pines was first in the discus and third in the shot put while Tianna Deluzio of St. Basil was first in the javelin and third in the discus. Sam Mortimore of Bawating won the shot put.
Rachel Brain of White Pines was second in both the 400m and 800m, while Kristine Dovigi of St. Basil wound up second in the high jump and third in the 400m. The Eagles Rachel Eddy placed second in the 200m and third in the 100m. The Dunn's Genna Patterson and Kayleigh Rathwell of White Pines tied for second in the triple jump while SJD's Riley Jo Linklater (javelin) and St. Basil's Jullien Flynn (3,000m) also grabbed seconds.
Third-place showings were recorded by:Kati Glassford of the Dunn (300m hurdles), teammate Kylie Denardo (3,000m), Kaisha King of CASS (high jump) and the Knights Jaclyn Amadio (javelin). The Dunn was second in the 4-by-100m relay.
Alex Morrison of St. Mary's won the 100m and finished second in the 200m, while teammate Patrick Turcotte tied for first in the shot put and was third in the discus.
Justin Cooke of the Dunn and Ben Muncaster of White Pines placed 1-2 in the 300m hurdles, while the Wolverines Ben Katajamaki and Kurt Barbarie of CASS were 1-2 in the long jump.
Along with his record-setting victory in the high jump, Bradley Walsh also had a second in the triple jump.
SJD's Matthew Fitton was third in the 100m, 200m and 400m, while Korah's Jack Carlyle was second in the 3,000m and third in the 1,500m.
Colin Booth of the Dunn grabbed a second in the 100m hurdles while teammate Phil Graf was third in the 800m. The Eagles were second and the Wolverines third in the 4-by-100m relay.
SJD's Madison Mascardelli (high jump), Korah's Jaimee Carter (triple jump) and Cydney Mihell (300m hurdles), and St. Mary's Jenna Gallagher (long jump) all grabbed firsts, while Gallagher also had a second in the high jump. The Knights Alyssa St. Germain was second in the 200m and third in the 100m.
Her teammate, Rachel MacLennan (long jump), and Korah's Rachel Ivey (shot put) also finished second while third-place showings were posted by: Korah's Abigail Fogg (high jump), SJD's Kaili Labelle (javelin), and St. Basil's Anna Stilin (3,000m) and Kristen Henderson (triple jump).
The Colts were second and the Saints third in the 4-by-100m relay.
Bawating's Barak Bordin was first in the 100m hurdles and third in the javelin, while Adam Devon of St. Mary's placed first in the high jump. His teammate, Tim Berkenbosch, was second in the 300m hurdles and third in the 100m hurdles while Coty Thomas of CASS was third in both the long jump and 400m.
Dylan Hebert of St. Mary's (long jump) and the Dunn's Robert Gioventu (shot put) grabbed second-place finishes, while SJD's Brandon DePetrillo was third in the 100m.
The Dunn was second and St. Basil third in the 4-by-100m relay.