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Girls preview for Saturday's CIF-SS Finals
Newport Harbor senior Paige Tennison finally produced an effort on the hills of the Mt. Sac course that left her feeling ready to win an individual CIF-SS individual title.
The Tesoro Titans produced a team performance that could spur them in their efforts to compete for a CIF-SS team title.
The county’s top individual runner and team performers from last week’s CIF-SS Divisional preliminaries will look to reduplicate their feats Saturday at the CIF-SS Divisional Finals at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.
Tennison, who was looking to shake off a poor effort in her previous race at Mt. Sac, looked every bit an individual title favorite in Division 2. She won her preliminary heat in a time of 17:25, which was the fastest of all runners in the division and trailed only Simi Valley star Sarah Baxter’s meet best time of 16:41.
“I just have to continue telling myself that I am good on hills,” Tennison said. “I’m ready to go.”
Tennison finished third in last year’s Division 2 finals, running to a Mt. Sac lifetime best time of 17:15.
Tesoro, which won its Division 2 preliminary heat, had the county’s fastest best overall team time among all five divisions (92:27). Freshman Amanda Gehrich (17:45) continued her stellar campaign by leading the Titans with a second place individual finish.
“I wanted to good here at Mt. Sac like the first time we ran here,” Gehrich said. “I just go out trying to focus on running my race and having a good time.”
The Titans will be joined in the Division 2 finals by Canyon, Foothill, and Woodbridge.
Capistrano Valley had the best team time among five other county schools that will compete in the Division 1 finals. Sophomore Grace Schafer led the Cougars efforts with an individual victory.
“For the finals, we will take our efforts from prelims as motivation and a good sign of what’s to come,” Schafer said. “Our team will keep working hard and we feel like we can count on each other.”
San Clemente, the defending CIF-SS Division 1 champion, also took home a heat victory by defeating South Coast rival Dana Hills who was second in the same heat.
Marina, Trabuco Hills, and Edison will also compete in Division 1. Vikings senior Kylie Nishisaka (17:41) was the county’s fastest individual runner in the division during prelims.
Northwood junior Bethan Knights took home a heat win in last week’s Division 3 preliminaries and knows that Saturday’s finals will feature some stiff competition in the front.
“There are going to be some really good runners in the race,” Knights said. “I hope to be able to keep up with them by pushing myself the whole race and ultimately beating them and getting a PR.”
The county contingent will be strong in the team battle for Division 3, as Laguna Hills, Northwood, Corona del Mar, Mater Dei, Santa Margarita, Esperanza, Yorba Linda, and Bolsa Grande all will compete in the finals.
El Dorado junior Cassidy Towner qualified for the finals as an individual.
Two-time defending CIF-SS Division 4 champion JSerra appears to be rounding into form at just the right time. The Trinity League champions were without two of its top five projected runners, but still won its heat.
“The fact that we won despite using two alternates is really cool,” Lions coach Marty Dugard said. “If the girls do their best, the team will do its best.”
Joining the Lions in Division 4 finals will be Crean Lutheran and Laguna Beach. The Saints will be led by sophomore Lauren Maurer, who was a heat winner in preliminaries.
Calvary Chapel junior Emily Scott will run as an individual.
Sage Hill will be the lone county school competing in the Division 5 finals.