Tennison off to good start
LAGUNA HILLS -Newport Harbor senior Paige Tennison began what was to be a breakout junior campaign last fall with an unexpectedly strong race at the season Laguna Hills Invitational.
This year’s season-opening invitational provided a convincing glimpse that she is squarely intent on continuing her maturation into one of the top runners in the state.
Tennison ran to an invitational-best 17:35 to win the Division 2 senior race at the 29th annual Laguna Hills Invitational Saturday at Laguna Hills High.
“I wanted to get out in front of the pack, stay at a comfortable speed, and get a feel back for racing,” Tennison said. “My goal is do what I have always done, but work even harder.”
The defending Orange County sweepstakes champion, (who finished sixth in Division 2 at last season’s CIF State Championships), broke away from the pack early and wasn’t seriously challenged in the final portion of the race. She won by 57 seconds over Canyon senior Olivia Goins (18:32).
“I just try to go out, run my race, and not think about anything else,” said Tennison.
It was a record-setting debut for Tesoro’s Amanda Gehrich in the Division 1 freshman race. Gehrich blazed to a 5:48-opening mile and crossed the finish line first in a time of 17:48. That time established a new Division 1 freshman meet record, breaking the previous record of 18:04 set by Vista’s Ashley Cope in last season’s invitational.
“At the beginning of the race, I didn’t want to go out too fast because I knew I would get tired at the end,” said Gehrich. “I paced myself early, and in the second and third mile, I felt really good.”
Gehrich’s effort was also the second best overall time of the meet behind Tennison. She was also one of only three runners to finish in sub-18:00.
“This being my first race, I was just going to give it my best and see how I did,” Gehrich said. “When I realized that I had broken that record, I thought it was pretty cool.”
Capistrano Valley sophomore Grace Schafer (18:07) placed second in the Division 1 sophomore race to Sultana’s Moriah Munyan (17:55). Munyan and Schafer had the third and fourth fastest overall times of the meet respectively.
Northwood’s Bethan Knights (18:16) claimed victory in the Division 3 junior race and Laguna Hills’ Alana Jones (18:24) won the Division 3 senior race. Knights had the eighth best overall time of the meet, with Jones running to the ninth best time overall.
Mira Costa (1:34:01) had the fastest overall team time of the meet. Canyon (1:35:01) finished second, with Capistrano Valley (1:35:06) placing third.