Erica Mobley had experienced cramping in her abdomen before, but not like this.
The Westerville North High School senior endured a few days of pain earlier this year, but then wasn't able to stand up straight. After a trip to the hospital, Mobley found out surgery was necessary because her abdomen was full of an infection.
Post-surgery, she would need a cane to walk. Running with the girls track and field and cross country programs -- one of her passions -- didn't seem possible.
It all came as a shock because there were no symptoms for several months.
"Over the summer (of 2017), I swam in a lake and got an infection all over my abdomen, but I didn't find out about it until eight months later," Mobley said. "There wasn't a whole lot of symptoms. I had some cramps, which can be normal. Then one day I couldn't stand up straight and (the doctors) thought I had appendicitis.
"I went to the hospital and they told me I had an infection all through my abdomen. They tried to give me pills to stop it, but then they did a CT scan and said, 'We're going to have to cut you open and take that all out.' "
The surgery wasn't a simple one. Mobley was cut from side to side and the infection was removed, but there were life-changing repercussions.
"They sliced me open from my hip bone to hip bone and kind of like scraped all of the disease out of there. They actually had to scrape things out," she said. "They were going to remove my fallopian tubes because it was all around them. They didn't remove them, but they are so scarred my eggs can't go through them. If I'm going to have kids, it will have to be in-vitro."
Mobley had been a top varsity runner in cross country since her freshman season. Running wasn't really on her mind when leaving the hospital, only getting out of bed. She looked to her parents, Jesse and Heather Mobley, for help with that.
"Because of the way they sliced me open, I had to start from square one," she said. "My mom had to help me do everything from going to the bathroom to getting out of bed. It was horrible. I was walking with a cane for about a month because I couldn't stand up straight.
"I didn't go to school for a month. I started back the week before spring break, which was the last week of March. I went back, got all of my homework and did it all over spring break. I was taking AP calculus, AP chemistry, AP literature, so it wasn't easy."
Mobley has a 4.25 GPA, so she was able to catch up in the classroom. Getting back on track as a runner was a different story. It started with one lap around the North track and built from there.
"My surgery was March 2 and I started running in the middle of April," Mobley said. "The doctors made sure I was seeing our trainer to make sure everything was healing correctly.
"It was hard getting back into it. The first day, I did one lap around the track and I felt like I was going so fast, but it took me five minutes. The next day, I came back and did two (laps) and it took me 10 minutes. I was very slow. Later, I ran in a meet against (Westerville) South (on May 1). I ran the (3,200 meters) and I was really slow, but I finished it. I finished in 13 minutes, 30 seconds, and I wasn't last, which was good."
Johnny Jackson, who coaches Mobley in both programs, said her progress has been remarkable.
"Erica really worked hard and she is extremely determined," he said. "In cross country, she has been moving forward. She is probably six months behind in training, but you can see her moving up and getting faster. They can't leave her out of the top seven."
Mobley did not start training for cross country until the end of June, allowing for more time to heal. However, it was a slow process and the results weren't up to her standards. That meant she had to change her expectations.
In the season-opening Pickerington Classic on Aug. 25 at Pickerington North, she finished 85th in 23:39.32. A week later in the Westerville North Classic on Sept. 1, Mobley was 41st while cutting her time to 22:45.49. On Sept. 29 in the Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley, she ran seventh for the Warriors by finishing 206th in 22:47.1.
"My first race was almost 24 minutes, which is the slowest I have ever run," she said. "I was pretty upset. I thought I was doing so well, but I saw my time and my place and it was bad. I got knocked down from varsity. I had run every varsity race since my freshman year and I have been either the top runner or second runner in every single race. So, being (the) eighth (runner) was pretty difficult for me.
"The victory is worth the pain. Before (surgery) it was like, 'I'm (our) No. 1 (runner), great.' Now it's like, 'I'm on varsity, I worked so hard for this.' All of this hard work is amounting to something."
The experience has amounted to something for Mobley, who plans to run in college and study chemistry on a pre-medical track. Possible destinations include Ohio Northern or Waynesburg (Pennsylvania).
"I know I wanted to do something with science, but in the last few months I have been looking more into the medical field," she said. "When I was in the hospital for about a week, I had different doctors and nurses and I realized it would be good to be able to help someone like that."
Coincidentally, swimming in a lake might also have been the cause of Mobley's prior surgery, 10 years to the day of her second.
"I had a necrotizing fasciitis, which is a flesh-eating bacteria, in one of my legs, probably also the result of swimming and it was on March 2, 2008," she said. "I haven't been swimming since this last time, but I did go canoeing once over the summer. I didn't get in the water."
Golf programs begin postseason competition
The boys and girls golf teams began the postseason Oct. 2 with Division I sectional tournaments.
The boys competed at Darby Creek, where the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Apple Valley.
At district, the top two teams and top two individuals not on those teams qualify for state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Pierre Southibounnorath competed as an individual Sept. 24 in the 18-team OCC Shootout at Moundbuilders and shot a 73, three strokes behind co-medalists Caleb Davern of Central Crossing and Bryce Reed of Olentangy Berlin.
The girls team played in a sectional at Royal American, with the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advancing to district Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Cooks Creek.
At district, the top two teams and the top two players not on those teams qualify for state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
Girls tennis team heads to sectional
The girls tennis team plays in a Division I sectional tournament Thursday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 6, at Upper Arlington.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 11 and 13 at Reynoldsburg.
Juniors Maddie Poling and Anyce Sewell and sophomore Kayla Cochran will play singles. The doubles teams will be senior Madelyn Jones and sophomore Aubrey McMahon and juniors Emily Buss and Emylee Preston.
The Warriors were 2-15 overall and finished 0-5 in the OCC-Buckeye after losing to Orange 5-0 on Oct. 1.
Below are the coming schedules for the North cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 6 -- Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Oct. 4 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
*Oct. 9 -- At Olentangy Orange
Oct. 4 -- At Reynoldsburg
*Oct. 9 -- Home vs. Orange
*Oct. 4 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty. The Warriors lost to the Patriots 25-8, 25-12, 25-20 on Sept. 13.
Oct. 8 -- At Mount Vernon
*Oct. 9 -- At Westerville South. The Warriors defeated the Wildcats 25-13, 25-23, 25-22 on Sept. 20.