Pulling together as a team has helped pull the Korah Colts across the finish line.
By winning four of six divisions last week, the Colts were able to secure the overall boys and girls championships and the first aggregate title in school history at the City High School Cross- Country Championships at Kinsmen Park.
Korah looks for more success Friday at the Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (NOSSA) meet in North Bay.
"It came as a total shock that we won the aggregate award," said Colts head coach Janis Hogan, who credited the one-for-all-and-all- for-one approach of her runners for the team's success. "They all cheer each other on."
In what is generally considered an 'individual' sport, Hogan promotes a team philosophy, where members of both the boys and girls squads interact.
"We have meetings together, we stretch and train together every day," said Hogan, who works alongside assistant coach Carolyn Fitzpatrick. "It's a big team atmosphere at Korah."
"We try to get our long (training) runs in running in groups with the boys and girls together," said 17-year-old Sophie Kargl, who finished third in the city in the Senior Girls Division's fivekilometre race. "We definitely encourage each other. At the city meet, we all went to both the start and finish line for every race to encourage our teammates."
Sixteen-year-old Jack Carlyle, who grabbed first place in the senior boys 7k, called winning the aggregate championship "a great accomplishment for our school. We're all very close and very good friends and we enjoy training together."
Carlyle said senior runners, such as he and Kargl, also enjoy their responsibility to be leaders of the Colts team.
He said the older runners know it's their job to motivate and help prepare the younger runners.
"We try to make them comfortable and confident with their races," he added.
Another of the senior runners, Mackie Edwards, who placed second behind Carlyle, gave a motivational speech to the entire team before the Midget Girls Division 3k race kicked off the city finals.
Along with Kargl, Carlyle and Edwards, four other Korah runners recorded top-five finishes.
Nick Burns won the midget boys 5k while Karl Zimmerman placed fourth and Corey Conforzi fifth in the junior boys 6k.
The Colts Mariah Krancevich wound up second in the junior girls 4k.
In team results, Korah was tops in everything but the Senior Girls and Junior Boys Divisions.
As for the NOSSA meet, Hogan is hoping her senior boys team finishes in the top two Friday. She also thinks the Korah midget boys and junior girls teams "have a chance for top three."
And Hogan is high on Kargl, who's in her first year of cross-country competition.
The Colts coach said she also believes the North Bay course is well-suited to Sault Ste. Marie runners.
"It's a lot like Kinsmen Park. It's built on a nordic ski trail and it's hilly," Hogan said.
True to her school's team-first approach, Kargl would love to qualify for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championships -- ideally as part of Korah's senior girls team.
"I'd much rather go as part of a team than as an individual (runner)," she said. "We're very close and we all get along together great."
The OFSAA meet is slated for Nov. 7 in Woodbridge, Ont.