Action Sports Spotlight-JC GIrls Cross Country

By Brendan O'Reilly

July 22, 2010 Updated Oct 3, 2007 at 12:01 AM EDT

THE STARTING LINE'S THE ONLY TIME IN THE RACE WHERE OPPONENTS HAVE BEEN CLOSE TO THE JOHNSON CITY WILDCATS THIS SEASON. THE STATE'S THIRD RANKED CLASS "B" SQUAD HAS PILED UP THE HARDWARE WITH THREE INVITATIONAL WINS. THEY'RE LED BY SENIOR ALL-STATER PAIGE MULLINS. BUT MULLINS IS THE OLD ONE OF THE GROUP, THE OTHER TOP RUNNERS CAN'T EVEN DRIVE YET.
"I've always been the younger one so I know what it was like to look up to other people and I want to be the role model that other people were for me," says senior Paige Mullins.
ONE OF THOSE GIRLS WHO LOOKS UP TO PAIGE IS HER 8TH-GRADE TEAMMATE AND SISTER LAUREN. THERE'S NO DOUBT YOUNGER SISTER HAS LEARNED A LOT FROM BIG SIS, BUT YOU WON'T FIND EVEN A WHIFF OF SIBLING RIVALRY.
"We get along really well. It's pretty peaceful I guess you could say," says 8th-grader Lauren Mullens.
"It's good competition," says Paige. And Lauren and I, we don't get too competitive about it. I mean, during the race, we just race and then after, we're always both happy for each other."
QUITE OFTEN THE TOP WILDCAT RUNNERS FINISH RACES WITHIN A FEW SECONDS OF EACH OTHER. THAT'S NO MISTAKE... THE GIRLS PUSH EACH OTHER IN PRACTICE EVERY DAY TO HELP SHAVE TIME WHEN IT REALLY MATTERS.
"Nobody is satisfied with being in their number three spot or number five spot or whatever," Coach Pete Tylenda says.
"It helps because we have somebody to train with that's the same pace as us and that we have people to push us during the race," adds freshman McKenna Laughlin.
ON A TEAM WITH SO MUCH TALENT, YOU MIGHT THINK INDIVIDUAL EGOS COULD GET IN THE WAY. NOT SO WITH THESE WILDCATS.
"We're not trying to beat each other. We're just trying to get as far as we can and do as good as we can in the race, so it's not really a competition between us but it's a competition to beat the other teams that are there."
WITH THAT MOTTO, THESE WILDCATS MIGHT JUST BE RUNNING TOWARDS A STATE TITLE.

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