Sure, it would be difficult to cover an event like the SDSSAA cross-country championships and not focus on the well-deserving stories of those athletes at the front of the pack.
But much of the beauty of a day like this lies in the incredible number of stories running just below the surface, the ones that are often so easy to overlook.
It is almost a given the likes of Lockerby Composite and Lo-Ellen Park Secondary will duke it out for overall team supremacy, but there are some very encouraging signs coming from schools with a much smaller student population base.
At Confederation Secondary in Val Caron, coach Jessie Brooks is enjoying his second wave of talented athletes grouped together in a given age and gender bracket. A few years back, the talk was of the young ladies, those now nearing graduation.
These days, it's the Chargers junior boys team, comprised of Dawson Chaperone, Jeremy Haw, Rowan McCaffery and Preston St. Pierre, garnering cross-country glory at the school. Yet Brooks maintains his single most consistent message revolves around the importance of each and every member of the team.
"There are some runners on our team that are not necessarily super strong runners, but are still valuable," he said. "That's something they've had to learn. This is all about personal improvement."
Over at Marymount Academy, head coach Rob Van Mierlo celebrates his 10th season with an influx of top-end talent, a factor contributing to the growth of the sport at the school.
"We have a lot more bodies on the team this year, which really helps," he said. "It's a combination of the passion that I have for the sport, as well as recognizing the talent that we do have at Marymount.”
When it comes the trails themselves, 64-year-old John Larmer is perhaps the one person who can appreciate the conditions of the Laurentian running trails as much as the athletes themselves. Larmer is a fixture at the city championships, riding the lead bicycle to show the way for the young harriers.
"It's a good way for me to keep in shape, and it's a nice way to pay it forward, to give something back to the sport" Larmer said, adding, "Bob Hanson and Perry Sakki have done some great work on these trails."
Few teams had better footwork last Thursday than the Lockerby senior girls team. Blessed with a base of girls that swept the placings from one to five one year ago in the junior category, the Vikings senior team nearly duplicated that feat this year, taking four of the top five spots.
"It feels really great, because everybody supports each other," said 16-year-old Angela Perdue. "It's an individual sport, but it's much better to feel part of a team — it motivates you.
While the entire SDSSAA cross-country contingent will take to the road for step two, competing at the NOSSA championships in North Bay tomorrow, they return home for OFSSA. The Laurentian trails will play host to the very best from across Ontario on Nov. 2, with a very good chance that potential stories will emerge, once again, around every turn of the winding trails.
Lockerby dominates city finals
Senior Boys - 1st - Tie Pylatuk (Sacre-Coeur); 2nd - Liam Passi (Lasalle); 3rd - Alex Sarvas (Lo-Ellen)
Senior Girls - 1st - Sarah MacLean (Lockerby); 2nd - Ashley Sandre (Lockerby); 3rd - Teagan Moxam (Lockerby)
Junior Boys - 1st - Brendan Costello (Lo-Ellen); 2nd - Dawson Chaperone (Confederation); 3rd - Jeremy Haw (Confederation)
Junior Girls - 1st - Alexie Legault (Notre-Dame); 2nd - Karly Piro (St Benedict); 3rd - Myla McCormick (Marymount)
Midget Boys - 1st - Ben Lagadin (Lively); 2nd - Stavros Gallant (Lockerby); 3rd - Chris Dodds (Lo-Ellen)
Midget Girls - 1st - Karly Hellstrom (Lasalle); 2nd - Kennedy Cresswell (Macdonald-Cartier); 3rd- Stephanie Smuland (Confederation)
The NOSSA championships are being held on Oct. 23 in North Bay (hosted by Widdifield)