ORANGE — On a challenging three-mile Irvine Regional Park course with two tough hills at the Orange County Cross Country Championships, it wasn't so much the team results among local runners as much as the individual battles.
Newport Harbor High junior Paige Tennison won the battle against herself. Last year, she finished the course in 18 minutes, 45 seconds.
This year, she showed a remarkable improvement, finishing in 16:59 to win the girls' sweepstakes title Saturday.
Tennison also came back strong after finishing fifth at the Clovis Invitational near Fresno last weekend, where she fell down twice, got bloodied and was trampled by a few runners.
At the O.C. Championships, she was strong throughout.
"The first hill was the toughest," Tennison said. "I didn't know when it was going to end. I'm excited I won."
Corona del Mar senior Ashlee Powers was also in the girls' sweepstakes race. She finished 15th (18:03). CdM was 10th with 265 points, Newport Harbor was 11th (283). Trabuco Hills won the team title (105). Kristen Rivera (27th, 18:17) also earned a medal.