A step up in class has had little effect on Mitchell Mazzuca.
In fact, moving from the Midget Division into the junior ranks actually benefitted the 15-year-old in the two-day, Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (NOSSA) track and field championships, which wrapped up Thursday in Sudbury.
By winning three gold medals, the Grade 10 student at St. Basil Secondary School was the Sault and area's top performer.
Mazzuca finished first in the junior boys 100m, 200m and 400m races.
A year ago, competing as a midget, Mazzuca grabbed a first in the 400m, a second in the 100m and a seventh in javelin at NOSSA.
But he was the city's best performer at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championships in London.
Finishing in :52:18, Mazzuca grabbed a fourth-place finish in the OFSAA 400m.
But that performance, and Mazzuca's three gold medals at this year's recent city meet, only served to create additional stress for the young runner.
"Relieved," was the word he used following the conclusion of Thursday's NOSSA meet.
"I had a lot of pressure going in," Mazzuca admitted. "I was ranked high in all three races and I knew I had to live up to expectations."
He began to do so by winning the 400m Wednesday in :51.54.
"I think that's a personal best," said Mazzuca, who had his sights on the NOSSA record of :50.06 set by Richard MacLennan of St. Mary's in 2007.
On Thursday, Mazzuca won the 100m in :11.93, slower than his gold-medal time of :11.72 in the city meet.
"But the weather here was bad," he explained. "It was very cold all day and it was raining."
As for the 200m, the Saints runner called his time of :23.62 "a good one."
Mazzuca said he "hasn't ran this race as much as the other two. So I'm happy with that time."
One of many Sault and area athletes to qualify for the OFSAA meet, which begins next Thursday in Sudbury, Mazzuca said he plans to drop the 100m, allowing him to concentrate on the 200m and 400m events.
Asked what his goals are, Mazzuca said he simply wants to do his best in both OFSAA races.
"I can't worry about all of the other times," he said in reference to the other runners he'll face. "I just have to run my own races and do what I'm capable of doing."
Meantime, Paul Alexander of Superior Heights also had a first in junior boys competition, securing the gold medal in long jump.
Sam Good of Central Algoma Secondary School in Desbarats grabbed second-place finishes in both the javelin and 300m hurdles.
Joey Bruni of St. Basil was third in that race.
Korah's Nick Burns earned a second in the 800m, the Colts Stephen Maloney was second in the 400m while Michael Bogensberger of Superior Heights was second in the 100m hurdles.
Caleb Stinson of CASS was third in both the 1,500m and 3,000m while Andrew Caicco of St. Basil placed third in both the shot putt and discus.
Superior Heights wound up third in the 4-by-100m relay.
Meantime, Marissa Lobert of Superior Heights topped the area's junior girls with a first in the 1,500m and a second in the 3,000m.
Karissa Barbarie of CASS matched her with a first in long jump and a second in the 200m.
Lobert's teammate, Amelia Marrato, was first in the 800m and third in the 400m.
Another member of the Steelhawks, Rachel Voigt, won the 80m hurdles.
Meantime, Sara Matthews of Notre-Dame-des-Grands-Lacs captured top spot in javelin and Kate Trotter of White Pines won the high jump.
Jordyn Schell of Superior Heights also won a gold medal, grabbing top spot in the 100m. Jana Longo of St. Mary's was third in that race.
The Saints Carley Bordin wound up third in the 300m hurdles.
Superior Heights turned in a strong relay effort, winning the 4-by-100m event.
In senior boys action, Rob Gallinger of CASS was first in high jump, second in triple jump and third in long jump.
Korah's Corey Conforzi won the 100m and placed third in the 200m.
Ben Katajamaki of White Pines was tops in long jump and third in the 100m while Pat Turcotte of St. Mary's was first in the shot putt and third in discus.
Barak Bordin of Superior Heights won the 110m hurdles with Jordan Hoover of St. Basil finishing second in that event.
The Steelhawks Drew Johnson topped the field in the 400m hurdles.
Sam Taylor of White Pines grabbed a third-place showing in both the 800m and 1,500m, Matt Fitton of Superior Heights was third in the 400m and his teammate, Brad Walsh, was third in high jump.
Daniel Turco of St. Mary's grabbed a third in the 3,000m while teammate David Glibota was third in javelin.
Marc Mohammadi of Notre-Dame-des-Grands-Lacs was third in triple jump.
In the 4-by-100m relay, Superior Heights was second.
White Pines was second and the Steelhawks third in the 4-by-400m Open Division relay.
In senior girls, Jullien Flynn of St. Basil finished competition with a first in both the 3,000m and 1,500m and a third in the 1,500m Open Division steeplechase.
Liza Ritchie of White Pines secured a first in discus and a second in shot putt while Rachel MacLennan of St. Mary's had a first in long jump and a second in the 400m hurdles.
Rachel Brain of White Pines was first in the 800m and third in the 400m hurdles.
Korah's Rachel Ivey won the shot put competition while teammate Abi Fogg was tops in javelin. St. Basil's Tianna Deluzio was second in that event while Jordyn Hamilton of White Pines placed third.
Lynnea Lobert of Superior Heights placed second in both the 800m and 1,500m.
Korah's Cydney Mihell was second in the 400m while her teammate, Jaimee Carter, placed second in the triple jump.
Amanda Dawson of Superior Heights was second in high jump followed by Jenna Gallagher of St. Mary's.
Gallagher also grabbed a third in long jump.
Rachel Eddy of Superior Heights was third in the 200m, Taryn Goulding of CASS wound up third in shot put and Rachel Dick of White Pines was third in the 800m.
Korah finished third in the 4-by-100m relay while Superior Heights was first in the 4-by-400m Open Division relay.
In midget boys, Anthony Stefano of St. Mary's won the 100m while finishing second in the 200m.
Mitch Oliverio of Korah was second in the 100m hurdles while Brandon Shawana of CASS finished second in javelin.
Jeff Auger of Superior Heights was third in both the 300m hurdles and triple jump.
St. Basil's Alex Camirand was third in the 3,000m while Palmer Simpson of Superior Heights was third in the discus.
St. Mary's grabbed a third-place finish in the 4-by-100m relay.
In midget girls, St. Basil's Sarah Hammond had an outstanding performance by winning the 80m hurdles and 100m, while finishing second in the 200m.
Korah's Krista Buckner won the 3,000m while teammate Bianca Albidone grabbed the 400m. Alicia Mlynarczyk of St. Basil placed third in that race.
Adriane Bruni of White Pines won the triple jump with teammate Keirstin Olar placing third.
Korah's Sabrina Marsh grabbed a second-place finish in the 800m while teammate Danielle Ciotti was third in javelin.
In high jump, Sandryn Breckenridge of Notre-Dame-des-Grands-Lacs wound up third.
In relays, White Pines was third in the 4-by-100m.
And in the Open Division women's 800m dash (wheelchair), Danielle Greve of St. Basil was third while teammate Jurnee Stadnisky placed fourth.
No information on record-setting performances or team standings was available at press time.