Kole Paulin-Poitras (Lasalle) and Zoë Mullin-Belanger (Lo-Ellen) are certainly important keys to their respective secondary school teams, but both share visions of larger games.
The pair are among a group of seven local wrestlers selected as part of the Northeastern Ontario team that will compete at the Ontario Winter Games late next month in Huntsville.
Following in the footsteps of his father who also wrestled during his high school days, Paulin-Poitras added another first-place finish in the boys unlimited category, knocking off Leo Peltier of Wikwemikong.
By unlimited standards, Paulin-Poitras is a lightweight, posing something of a dilemma on the mat.
"I'm the smallest guy in my category all the time,” he said. "It's a little scary trying to jump in under those big guys."
Now in his second year with the Lancers, the 16-year-old Grade 10 student has found a way to overcome the challenge.
"If he's trying this, I'm going to do the complete opposite so that he doesn't see it coming. It's kind of encouraging seeing that I can take somebody a lot bigger."
Despite just starting her career at Lo-Ellen last fall, Mullin-Belanger could already draw on wrestling experience dating back to the fourth grade, with her aunt helping to pave the way for what has become something of a family tradition.
Not that all of her friends understand completely her obsession with wrestling.
"Most of them just think it's weird," she said. "When you tell them there's no punching or kicking or biting or scratching, people are kind of like, 'that's boring.'”
Yet for those who devote countless hours to the training, attention to detail is critical.
"You have to have good technique," said Mullin-Belanger. "If you do something wrong, you can really hurt someone."
Competing in the 72kg weight class at the mini-meet last week at Collège Notre-Dame, Mullin-Belanger finished second only to Lockerby Composite senior Alannah Day. Though her opponents ranged from complete newcomers to the sport, to Day, who has participated in the Cadet/Juvenile National Championships in the past, Mullin-Belanger tries to maintain a consistent approach.
"I try and go into each bout the same way, not too confident that I'm going to win, but not doubting myself either," she said.
Paulin-Poitras, Mullin-Belanger and wrestlers from several other schools were back Thursday with their final tune-up before the city championships taking place with a mini-meet at Sacré-Coeur.
Following are the category winners from the tournament at CND:
44kg - Andrew Paris (Lasalle)
54kg - Dustin Pretty (Lasalle)
57.5kg - Logan Blanchard (Lo-Ellen)
61kg - Zakary Frappier (Sacré-Coeur)
64kg - Scott Vaillancourt (ESMC)
67.5kg - Eathan Draper (ESMC)
72kg - Randy Beauvais (CND)
77kg - Brandon Shawana (Wikwemikong)
83kg - Kyle Fletcher (Lasalle)
95kg - Will Bennett (Sud Secondary)
Unlimited - Kole Paulin-Poitras (Lasalle)
47.5kg - Manon Paquette (ESMC)
54kg - Erica Turcotte (Sud Secondary)
61kg - Emilie Charette (Sacré-Coeur)
72kg - Alannah Day (Lockerby)
83kg - Safiyyah Briggs (Sud Secondary)
Unlimited - Rasha El-Dorazi (Confederation)