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Tennison wins again at O.C. Championships
ORANGE - If Newport Harbor senior Paige Tennison surprised many by winning last year’s individual sweepstakes county title, her encore performance Saturday left little doubt about her place among some of the county’s all-time best champions.
Tennison won her second straight individual sweepstakes title, lowering her lifetime course best at the 46th annual Orange County Championships at Irvine Regional Park.
Tennison, who missed last week’s Clovis Invitational and several training days due to illness from an allergic reaction, crossed the finish line in a time of 16:56, three seconds faster than her winning time last season.
She remains fifth all-time on the modern championship course that has been used since 1999 and is the first repeat champion since former Woodbridge star Christine Babcock won back to back titles in 2006 and 2007.
“I missed time last week and really wasn’t feeling well, Tennison said. “I came back Monday and knew that I wanted to race because the Orange County Championships is one of my favorite races. I love the course and wanted to win.”
Early in the race, Tennison and Northwood junior Bethan Knights forged a small lead on the rest of the field. Gradually toward the end of the first mile and early into the second mile, Tennison made her move with a surge and began to put some distance between herself and Knights.
“I didn’t want to go out too fast because I didn’t know what kind of shape my legs would be in after missing time last week,” Tennison said. “After the first mile, I felt good and tried to go as fast as I could.”
She continued to hold a steady lead throughout the remainder of the race, finishing 10 seconds ahead of Knights (17:06) who finished second.
Marina senior Kylie Nishisaka (17:07) was third.
Tesoro freshman Amanda Gehrich (17:23) and Crean Lutheran sophomore Lauren Maurer (17:33) rounded out the top five individuals.
In a highly competitive team title competition, the Foothill girls cross country team won the county title for the first time since 1982.
Junior Jessica Cushing-Murray (17:47) was the Knights top finisher, coming in 12th place.
“As a team, we just told each other to go out and do the best that we could,” Cushing-Murray said. “We were able to push each other during the race and led us through to the win.”
Senior Jacquie Adams (18:10), junior Mikaela Garduno (18:15), senior Audrey Wilcox (18:23), and junior Alison Mattias (18:35) all scored in the top 45, as Foothill (130 points) finished ahead of second place San Clemente (140) and third place Canyon (152).
Capistrano Valley (160) and Dana Hills (165) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“This is a veteran group that has run well together,” Knights coach Matt Bell said. “Any race that we go into, we feel like we have a chance to win. It is very exciting for us to win this race.”
In the Division 2 race, Edison junior Gabrielle Yatauro (17:54) placed first and was the only runner to finish in sub-18:00.
El Dorado junior Cassidy Towner (18:00) and University sophomore Sarah Stern (18:07) rounded out the top three.
The Chargers (78 points) had all five scoring runners finish in the top 40 to win the team title over second place Aliso Niguel (155) and third place Esperanza (168).
Santa Ana junior Toni Lopez (18:34) won the Division 3 title, with La Habra senior Sarah Pfaff (18:56) placing second, and Beckman sophomore Michelle Chaung (19:05) coming third.
Irvine freshman Alexandra Sterritt (19:10) and sophomore Vy Ngo (19:12) also finished in the top five, leading the Vaqueros (59 points) to the team title over second place Beckman (76) and third place Santa Ana (131).