As favorites to win the WPIAL cross country championship, Fox Chapel twins Colin and Ethan Martin agreed to kick at the same time if they were neck-and-neck heading into the final 200 meters.
But Thursday at a brutally cold Cooper's Lake Campground in Slippery Rock, Colin found himself all alone as the finish line came into sight.
Colin broke through the ribbon in 16 minutes, 4 seconds, then turned around to look for his brother. When Ethan came through 16 seconds later, they hugged.
"It's so much fun, honestly," Colin said of racing against his brother. "It's a little interesting, this entire week we were kind of thinking, all right, let's go 1-2.
"It didn't really matter who got first or anything. ... We're never angry with each other at the end of the day."
Having a twin might be the best thing for a runner -- "eternal training partners," Colin called it. They've always pushed each other to be the best.
"I guess we're always nervous with them, because they're nervous at the start," their father, Tom, said. "It's neat to see just because they work so hard. They've run every day for the last three years, [even] 5 a.m. Christmas morning. They've done a lot."
The seniors, headed to the University of Michigan, will finish their high school careers at the PIAA meet next weekend in Hershey.
They'll be joined there by Shaler junior Brianna Schwartz, who set the course record for a girls 5K and defended her Class AAA title by winning in 17:52.
"I wasn't even sure of the record until last week," she said. "I just wanted to get a really good time, which I guess includes breaking the record."
Schwartz broke the record by six seconds and crushed the rest of the field, finishing 53 seconds ahead of the next finisher.
"It's pretty difficult," Schwartz said of keeping pace when there's no one around. "It's easier at the state meet. My times always seem to be faster up there."
The top three teams in each section qualified for the PIAA meet, as well as the 15 fastest runners whose teams didn't make it.
North Allegheny made it eight consecutive titles in boys Class AAA, boasting the Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 7 finishers. The Tigers' 38 points (calculated by adding a team's top five finishers) were the best of any team at the meet.
Uniontown senior Nate Edenfield won the boys Class AA race in 16:44 while South Fayette won the team title with 74 points, ending Quaker Valley's streak of six consecutive titles.
Carter Smith of Eden Christian Academy won the boys Class A race in 16:46 and Avonworth won the team title, edging Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
Mt. Lebanon repeated as champions in girls Class AAA, edging Seneca Valley.
West Allegheny's Alexis O'Shea, who took second last year in 19:37, won the girls Class AA race in 19:12. Mars was the winning team.
In Class A, Vincentian Academy freshman Marianne Abdalah put up the second-best girls performance of the day, winning in 18:20 -- more than a minute better than the second-place finisher. Laurel repeated as team champions.
Nick Veronica: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @NickVeronica.