Paige Miracle needed permission to be the top runner for the Westerville North girls cross country team.

When the sophomore entered high school last fall, she respected the upperclassmen so much that she wouldn't pass them in practice. That changed after a talk with coach Johnny Jackson.

"When she came here, it took a while for her," Jackson said. "She felt guilty passing (2019 graduate) Erica (Mobley) in practice, so Erica told her it was OK and I told her to go ahead because she was faster than everyone anyway.

"She was capable of doing it. There is a pecking order in leadership, but there isn't one in running or competition. The best should be up there and now she is giving her all. Even on a bad day, she is one of our top runners and she rarely has a bad day."

Miracle has led the Warriors from that point. She said her reservations began a few years ago.

"I had one girl that I would always let finish ahead of me in middle school," she said. "Even coach Jackson told me that I wasn't really trying in middle school until I got to high school."

Along with pushing through cross country courses, Miracle also deals with celiac disease, in which her body doesn't digest gluten properly.

"It's an autoimmune disease where my small intestine won't let me get protein from things that have gluten in them, like wheat, rye and barley," she said. "I have to make sure I'm getting enough food and the right food for a balanced diet.

"I was really young when I figured it out, like 3. My mom (Lisa Miracle) used to take me to Barnes and Noble every week when I was a kid and we would get a pretzel, and I started feeling sick after eating it. They got me tested and we found out."

Jackson said Miracle handles the condition well and takes the precautions necessary to stay healthy.

"Paige is very strict with her diet and she takes good care of herself," he said. "She can't eat with the rest of the team, so when we get together at like 'Meet the Team,' her mother brings her something special to eat."

Miracle's top time -- 19 minutes, 58.4 seconds -- came last season when she finished 11th in the OCC-Buckeye Division meet at Hilliard Davidson. The Warriors will run in the league meet Saturday, Oct. 12, on the same course.

"I want to get a faster, but it's been hot this fall," Miracle said. "I like to run more in the cold because I can go faster, and it's supposed to be cooler than it has been.

"I get nervous before every race. I put a lot of pressure on myself to finish at a time I want to and to beat some runners that I want to. I take deep breaths to take mind off of that."

Jackson has no doubts that Miracle will continue to improve.

"Paige has a dedication, a commitment and a drive," he said. "She is always giving 100 percent every day and every meet. She gives you everything she has."

Boys golfers fall short at sectional

The boys golf team finished 11th (377) in a Division I sectional Oct. 1 at Darby Creek as the top four teams and top four individuals not on those teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.

Dublin Coffman (299), Olentangy Liberty (303), Olentangy Orange (303) and Hilliard Darby (311) advanced. Jonathan Alder's Mychal McKelvey (72), Grove City's Jeremiah Bane (75), Grove City's Ian Johnston (75) and Jonathan Alder's Hayden Mitchell (75) were individual qualifiers.

Sophomore Rocco Thomas (77) led the Warriors, followed by junior Jack Yancey (86), junior Kobe Hunter (87), sophomore Andrew Scurlock (87) and senior Elijah Rex (100).

North finished fifth (3-17) in the OCC-Buckeye behind champion Liberty (19-1).

Girls golfers finish ninth at sectional

The girls golf team was ninth (476) in a Division I sectional Oct. 1 at Royal American as the top three teams and top three individuals not on those teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.

Dublin Jerome (321), Pickerington North (349) and Darby (363) advanced.

Senior Alexyss Smith (105) led the Warriors, followed by junior Makayla Blankenbeckley (118) and seniors Emma Diehl (123), Ella Holtzmuller (130) and Sydney Johnson (133).

North finished fifth (4-16) in the OCC-Buckeye behind champion Liberty (20-0).

Tennis team closes season at sectional

The girls tennis team had its season end Oct. 3 in a Division I sectional at Pickerington Central.

In singles, junior Aubrey McMahon went 2-1 and senior Anyce Sewell and sophomore Liz Amici lost their opening matches.

The doubles teams of seniors Emily Buss and Sophia DiCarlo and senior Emylee Preston and junior Emma Weisgerber also lost in their first matches.

The Warriors finished 2-15 overall and fifth (1-4) in the OCC-Buckeye behind champion Orange (5-0).

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the North cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Oct. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Davidson

BOYS SOCCER

*Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange

Oct. 17 -- Home vs. 26th-seeded Hilliard Darby in first round of Division I district tournament. The Warriors are seeded 18th.

GIRLS SOCCER

*Oct. 10 -- At Orange

Oct. 19 -- Home vs. 44th-seeded Franklin Heights in second round of Division I district tournament. The Warriors are seeded fourth.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Oct. 10 -- At Orange. The Warriors lost to the Pioneers 25-12, 25-14, 25-8 on Sept. 17.

Oct. 15 -- Home vs. 35th-seeded Whetstone in second round of Division I district tournament. The Warriors are seeded 31st.

*League contest