Whether in an important race or a regular training session, Alyssa Mullikin and Julia Pak never fail to give a full effort. Just ask their coach.
"Julia and Alyssa had workouts where they're just about in tears, because they're giving everything they possibly can give," Evans cross country coach Mike Lennox said. "That's all a coach can ask."
Suffice to say, the pair of seniors were no-brainer selections for Lennox as co-captains after last season.
It helped Evans secure a runner-up finish at the Region 2-AAAA Meet in Statesboro, Ga. on Oct. 30. It was the seventh consecutive year Evans has finished second in the region.
Lennox said the two aren't necessarily the prototypical vocal leaders, but more the type to lead by example.
The season hasn't gone as expected because of injuries and roster adjustments, he noted, but one constant has been their tireless effort.
"That's pretty much what I looked at," Lennox said of Mullikin's and Pak's work ethic. "Secondly, was how do you interrelate with everyone else on the team? ... They get along with everybody."
Leading by example is something Pak does every day, running hard despite intense pain. Because she has ovarian cysts, a common condition, Pak doubles over in pain minutes after running hard interval training sessions.
"She just gets in a ball and cringes in pain, and she's crying," Lennox said. "And there's nothing we can do about it. ... The doctor says it's just the way it's going to be.
"She knows she's going to go through that pain, but she continues to do it."
For Mullikin, she has had quite an eventful season. On Oct. 22, she was crowned homecoming queen at halftime of Evans' football game against Effingham County.
After injuries threatened to derail Evans' cross country chances, Mullikin's role as co-captain had her acting as recruiting director. She sought help from a friend, convincing Mackenzie Bourne to come out for practice and compete with the team after her volleyball season was complete.
That helped the team's depth. Its performance this season was aided by freshman Jackie Ramos, who has emerged as the team's No. 1 runner in several races this season.
Pak, who runs the 1-mile and 2-mile races on the track team, said she enjoys the cross country side a bit more because of the team aspect.
"Cross country's more of a family thing," said Pak, whose personal best time is 20 minutes, 47 seconds. "We're all really, really close."
During training, she will try to help her teammates get the last bit of energy to finish a tough training session. When it's time to compete, however, Pak said it's all about zoning in and fighting through the exhaustion.
For Mullikin, who runs the 200 meters and 400 meters in track and owns a personal best time of 20:12 in cross country, being a co-captain has helped her gain insight into what it means to be a leader.
"It's been a good leadership experience this year," she said. "I couldn't have asked for a better senior year."
Both are solid students who strive in the classroom, Lennox said.
"When they show this kind of dedication on the track," he said, "they tend to do what they need to do in the classroom."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.