If Tiffany Perrier needed inspiration, all she had to do was look straight ahead. As the Hills East senior ran down the final straightaway in the 400 meters at the New York Relays on April 20, she saw a familiar face chugging along up ahead -- her younger sister Christina.
That face provided the necessary momentum she needed to finish strong on a day when she, by her own admission, wasn't running her best.
"I could have come in fifth, but I stuck with Christina and she pushed me," Perrier said. "Every time she went a little bit ahead of me, I said 'I just have to go get her.' I used that. Timewise, I could have done better. Placewise, I'm happy."
The two sisters crossed the finish line two seconds apart. Christina, a junior, won the race in 58.22 seconds. Tiffany clocked 1:00.27 in the invitational event at Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island.
"It was surprising," Christina said of her victory. "Sometimes I forget what I'm capable of. I paced myself and came in strong down the final straightaway."
Tiffany, who looked up to older siblings Greg and Victoria when they ran for the Thunderbirds, relishes the chance to have the same kind of impact on Christina.
"It's exciting," she said. "It gives you the feeling that she wants to be just like you. I'm happy that I can fill a spot in her life by being a role model."
Moments after the two sisters crossed the finish line, another Thunderbird, sophomore Lauren Keschner, joined the party. Keschner finished in third in 1:00.82. It wasn't a Half Hollow Hills East practice but, for a moment, it sure looked like one.
Keschner, who was an alternate for the race, found out moments before the starting gun that a lane had opened up. She had warmed up, but was not expecting her name to be called that close to the start.
"I was so nervous," she said. "I just went in there and ran. I tried to stay with Tiffany and it worked out."
The trio wasn't done. Along with Mary Chimezie, the girls won the 4 x 400 relay in 3:54.29.
The 4 x 400 team is close-knit, laughing and smiling as they recounted their weekend win before practice on a windy Tuesday afternoon. That bond is a key to the success that they've had and the future success that they hope will lead them to the state meet June 7-8 at Middletown High School.
"The first thing is to have a good relationship and be comfortable with your teammates," Chimezie said.
With the Perrier sisters representing half of the squad, that closeness is already intact.