Fourteen-year-old Flavian Onyango of St Theresa Chakol Girls Primary School in Busia County led the pack in the Western region in this year's Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination.
In the results released Monday, Flavian scored 439 out of the possible 500 marks to emerge the second best candidate nationally.
She tied in that position with two other candidates -- June Cheptoo Koech of Sangalo Central Primary School in Nandi County and Sean Michael Ndung'u of Kitengela International School in Kajiado County.
Overall, KCPE's top scorer was Andy Michael Munyiri of Damacrest Schools in Thogoto, Kikuyu, who scooped 440 marks.
But this was short of last year's best candidates' grades -- Olive Mwea Wachira of Riara Road Primary in Nairobi and Rawlings Odhiambo Aketch of Kakamega Hill School -- who both scored 453 marks.
In 2017, the best candidate was Goldalyn Kakuya of St Annes Junior School, Lubao, in Kakamega, who had 455 marks.
Releasing the results, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha commended public schools for putting up a strong fight, producing several candidates in the top ranks.
Out of the three candidates who tied in the second position, two, Flavian and June, were from public schools.
"That the public school candidates matched private school candidates is proof that our Free Primary Education Programme has come of age and that our teachers are excelling in spite of the higher enrolment. It is also evident that girls are competing favourably against boys for the top honours," said Prof Magoha.
The results were released at Mitihani House on Dennis Pritt Road, Nairobi.
A total of 1,083,456 candidates sat the exams in 26,284 centres countrywide. There were 543,582 boys and 539,874 girls.
This was a slight increase over last year's 1,052,344 candidates consisting of 527,294 males and 525,070 females.
Speaking to the Nation, Flavian attributed her good performance to discipline and hard work.
She is keen to join Alliance Girls High School and later join the medical profession as a doctor. Her influence is from her mother, a nurse.
"My teachers and parents gave me a lot of support and encouraged me in my studies, and this contributed to the impressive performance," said Flavian.
In Kakamega County, Booker Academy in Mumias produced one of the top 10 candidates, Fabiola Mukabane, who scored 437 marks.
Fesbeth Academy and Kakamega Hill School in Kakamega County dominated the top 10 positions in the region.
Vivian Wachera scored 433 marks to emerge the top candidate at Fesbeth Academy while Rick Otieno Ochieng from Kakamega Hill school was the top candidate with 433 marks.
Sebatian Anzimbu from Fesbeth Academy got 432 marks in the third position.
Shanique Ngaira from Fesbeth Academy scored 431 marks and shared the spoils with Cynthia Deborah 431, a top candidate from Kakamega Primary School.
Matilu Muyeku from Kakamega Hill school scored 429 marks to clinch a slot in the top 10 positions in the county.
MATHS AND SCIENCE
He was followed by Noel Maloba from Fesbeth Academy, who scored 428 marks while Precious Sakwa from the same school got 427 marks.
An analysis of the KCPE results indicated that there was a decline in the number of candidates with top grades.
Some 9,770 candidates obtained 400 marks and above, a drop from last year's 12,205 and 9,846 in 2017.
Even so, the number of those scoring between 301--400 rose slightly to 243,320 compared with 223,862 last year.
Candidates did better in four of the six KCPE subjects -- English, Kiswahili, Kenya Sign Language, social studies and religious education.
Performance lapsed in mathematics and science. In terms of gender, boys led in maths, science, social studies and religious education, but girls excelled in English, Kiswahili and Kenya Sign Language.
There were 2,407 candidates with special needs and the best of them scored 414 marks, while some 211 of them had between 300 and 400 marks.
"I wish to emphasise that the ministry will continue to implement interventions that will help our special-needs children to access and do well in their education," said Prof Magoha.
In the Western region, some other candidates who did well were Caleb Simuyu Wanjala from Kakamega Primary and Joshua Mwendwa from Hill School, who tied with 423 marks.
Mrs Ruth Minishi, the director of Fesbeth Academy, was excited about the performance.
Mrs Selpha Omulisya, the director of Kakamega Hill Academy said the performance reflected the hard work of the candidates, teachers and the support from parents.
In Vihiga County, St Francis Primary School, Hambale, produced the top candidate in the county.
Alvin Ishuga, the top student, got 423 marks and wants to join Alliance High School and later become a lawyer.
Elsewhere, Roben Sasaka, 14, a candidate at Moses Mudavadi Primary School, Mululu was second in the county after managing 422 marks.
He hopes to join Mang'u High School and later become an aeronautical engineer.
He was followed by Eugene Obando, from the same school, who scored 420 marks.
At Mudasa Academy, eight candidates scored more than 400 marks, with Kevin Otieno topping the list with 420 marks.
Kakamega was among the three counties with the highest entries, 54,311 candidates. The other two were Nairobi, 62,498 and Nakuru 53,225 candidates.
Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga, and Busia counties were among 18 counties that registered more female candidates than male.
In Bungoma County, Clinton Watta scored 429 marks to emerge the top candidate at Marrel Academy.
He was followed by Shirleen Nyongesa, who got 421 marks, and Damaris Sobolo with 419 marks.
At Impact Academy, Sikata, Deborah Nafula blazed the trail with 406 marks while Mary Kinuthia Wanjiru emerged the top candidate at Nzoia Industrial Primary.
At St Paul's Lwandanyi RC Primary, Lavenda Neksa Masiebi scored 409 marks to lead the pack and was followed by Hilda Nekesa Wekesa, who got 403 marks. Marble Tawarar Kipkony scored 394 marks.
At Chwele Academy, Dylan Ebelwa scored 430 marks to emerge in the top position and was followed by Johnes Mumbwani, who got 426 marks to emerge in second position.