Younger runners have been leading the way in the early portion of the season for the Westerville North High School boys and girls cross country teams.

Freshman Paige Miracle has run to the front of the pack for the girls team, and sophomores Isaiah Hutcherson and Seth Derstine have returned to pace the boys squad.

While ninth-year girls coach Johnny Jackson has been surprised by the performance of Miracle, he expects the rest of the team to only get better as the season progresses.

In the opening meet, Miracle finished 13th (20 minutes, 59.93 seconds) in the Bengal Division of the Pickerington Classic on Aug. 25 at Pickerington North. She followed that up with an eighth-place finish (20:54.44) in the Westerville North Classic on Sept. 1.

"Paige had a heck of a debut race on a tough course," said Jackson, whose team finished sixth (193 points) of 27 teams at Pickerington North behind champion Olentangy Berlin (102). "The whole team is looking really good and I expect them to keep improving for us."

The Warriors finished fourth (114) of 11 teams in their home meet behind champion Upper Arlington (57).

Also competing were juniors Grace Blanchong (12th, 21:25.3), Audrey Smith (24th, 22:01.15) and Samantha Dages (31st, 22:11.73), senior Erica Mobley (41st, 22:45.49), freshman Lilia Monzalvo (44th, 22:50.13) and junior Emma Fury (47th, 22:55.26).

"All coach wants is that we give it all that we've got," Mobley said. "He knows that we have so much potential to do a lot."

Seniors Eva Bernhardt and Christina Prokop, junior Bryce Gabelman and freshman Emily Widman also could see time on varsity for the Warriors, who have 15 freshmen on a roster of 38.

"We keep having more kids come out and we were just a couple of kids away from needing two buses (when we go to meets)," said Jackson, whose team finished fifth (134) in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet last year behind champion Olentangy Liberty (36). "We really have a lot of potential with this group."

Hutcherson (32nd, 18:20.21) and Derstine (49th, 18:43.86) led the boys in the Bengal Division at Pickerington North as the Warriors were ninth (299) of 24 teams behind champion Mount Gilead (25).

"One of our goals is to improve upon where we placed at our meets from last year," said boys coach Dave Weaner, who is in his 16th season. "We were 13th at Pickerington North last year and we were ninth this year.

"We have an encouraging group of young and first-year runners. They are developing a little quicker than I thought they might."

The Warriors were seventh (161) in the home meet behind champion Olentangy (42). They were eighth last season.

Hutcherson led the team by finishing 20th (18:06.78) and Brian Nganga, a first-year junior, was 25th (18:25.12). Also competing were Derstine (38th, 19:11.36), freshman Brent Daubenmire (51st, 19:49.43), juniors Bryce Fleshman (52nd, 19:53.75) and Dillion Lauer (54th, 19:57.67) and freshman Matthew Rollins (57th, 20:11.94).

Seniors Ryan Heighton, D'Angelo Phillips and Cameron Varney and junior Owen Lewis also could see time on varsity.

"Brian Nganga ran cross country in middle school and we finally got him to come back out for us," said Weaner, whose team finished sixth (172) in the OCC-Buckeye last fall behind champion Liberty (31). "I have no idea how we will do other than we will be better than last year. But that's something you want to see as a coach. You want to see the kids continue to improve."

Southibounnorath leads boys golf team in OCC

Pierre Southibounnorath of the boys golf team is tied for third in league average heading into the fourth and final round of the OCC-Buckeye tournament Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Darby Creek.

Southibounnorath, Olentangy Orange's Alex Cabungcal and Westerville Central's Ryan Dollenmayer all are averaging 75.67. Central's Joshua Qian and Liberty's Josh Steyer are tied for the lead at 75.0.

Southibounnorath shot a 77 in the third round Aug. 28 at Denison Golf Club as the Warriors were fifth (396) behind first-place Orange (318).

Girls golfers stand fifth in OCC-Buckeye

Entering the fourth and final round of the OCC-Buckeye tournament Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Cooks Creek, the girls golf team is fifth (3-12) behind first-place Orange (15-0).

In the third round Aug. 29 at Royal American, the Warriors finished fifth (496) behind the first-place Pioneers (329) as Jessica Huffman led with a 110.

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 25 -- Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North

Sept. 1 -- Westerville North Classic

Sept. 15 -- Central Ohio Invitational at Three Creeks Metro Park

Sept. 22 -- Bob Reall Invitational at Lancaster

Sept. 29 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley

Oct. 6 -- Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington

Oct. 13 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Davidson

Below are the coming schedules for the North boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 10 -- Big Walnut at Royal American

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye at Darby Creek

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye at Cooks Creek

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 8 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester

*Sept. 11 -- At Westerville Central

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Marysville

*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Central

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 6 -- At Olentangy Orange

Sept. 12 -- At DeSales

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Olentangy

Sept. 8 -- Home vs. Licking Heights and Reynoldsburg

Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Delaware

*League contest