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Tennison wins individual title, is lone local State qualifier

CIF Southern Section Cross-Country Finals

Late course change at Mt. SAC proves detrimental to local teams' chances of going to Fresno, but Newport Harbor High senior girls' runner still shines in capturing Division II race.

November 17, 2012|By Andrew Shortall
  • Newport Harbor High's Paige Tennison, photographed here in October, captured the CIF Southern Section Division II cross-country individual title with a time of 16:13 on Saturday at Mt. SAC.
Newport Harbor High's Paige Tennison, photographed… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Every year high school cross-country teams prepare for the challenges presented by the hilly course at Mt. San Antonio College — the site of the CIF Southern Section Division Finals — to improve their chances of advancing to the CIF State Meet.

All that training was for naught this season because of rain Friday night and some light drizzle on the day of the Division Championships on Saturday, which pushed the event onto an alternate course that's flat and mostly paved.

While some runners favored the switch, it spelled disaster and an end to the 2012 season for every local but Newport Harbor's Paige Tennison.

"I was focused on running Mt. SAC, the actual course," Tennison said. "I wanted to beat my time really bad from last year and I'm disappointed I didn't get a chance to do that because I feel like I was ready."

The senior standout was the only Sailor to advance to the Division Final and was certainly not flustered by the late change, which was announced just about an hour before the first race of the day, as she calls the rain course one of her favorites in cross-country.

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Tennison proceeded to win the girls' Division II race easily, edging second-place finisher Samantha Ortega of Saugus by 13 seconds, as the lone Newport Harbor representative crossed the line in 16 minutes 13 seconds.

Tennison couldn't make up her mind on whether or not it was a surprise to win the way she did.

"I expected to have more competition in the second loop," she said, "and I was surprised some of the other girls started dropping off, but I've been working really hard so I guess it's not that surprising."

Tennison was the only local to advance to the CIF State Meet, which is at Woodward Park in Fresno on Nov. 24. Her gameplan for the final cross-country meet of her career will be simple.

"Well, I mean, go big or go home," she said. "Of course, I want to win — it's my senior year."

It was a disappointing end to the season for all the teams that missed out on the top-seven cut to State, but it was especially heartbreaking for the Corona del Mar and Sage Hill boys' teams.

Both the Sea Kings and Lightning finished eighth in their respective divisions, seeing their bids for a trip to State dashed by just about a handful of points each.

Corona del Mar Coach Bill Sumner was surprised CIF decided to switch to Mt. SAC's rain course Saturday.

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