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Tennison takes O.C. title

Orange County Championships

Newport Harbor High junior shows remarkable improvement to capture girls' sweepstakes first-place medal.

October 15, 2011|By Bruce Bourquin, Special to the Daily Pilot
(Tracey Roman / Daily…)

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.

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No elite individual runner-versus-runner matchup was as close as CdM senior Blake Myers, who finished third (15 minutes, 20 seconds) in a Division II race, versus Newport Harbor senior Jake Barber, who finished fourth (15:22).

Myers was able to master the first 150 meters of grass that slowed some runners down, a dirt hill well before the first mile and an asphalt hill toward the second mile.

The top 40 runners in every race earned medals, with the top 50 in sweepstakes races also earning medals. The fastest seven runners in each race were named All-Orange County.

"That was a good race for me," Myers said. "That was about 10 to 15 seconds of a [personal record] from last year on this course. I started with the top four guys. I was up the hill with them, down with them. I was at the bottom of the second hill, when they started to creep away from me, I was at the top of the hill, I started my kick and I caught one of them. I thought it was a pretty good race."

Barber felt he ran at or near his best as well.

"I think I ran a good race," Barber said. "The competition's tough. I've usually been competitive. It was a strong field. I was looking to fight those guys off at the last mile."

With two key Sea Kings boys' runners out with injuries — No. 2 runner Tanner Love was out with knee problems and No. 3 man Ryan Rodriguez out with a broken arm — Corona del Mar was hurt in the team standings.

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