CdM girls enjoy top race

ORANGE — The Corona del Mar High girls' cross country team has an eye on Woodbridge nowadays.

CdM assistant coach Tri Nguyen also had an arm dedicated to the Warriors. Written in masking tape on his arm were the individual results of each CdM and Woodbridge runner, side by side.

The stakes weren't quite as high in the sweepstakes race at the Orange County Championships as they will be later in the season, but the Sea Kings finished above their new Pacific Coast League rivals Saturday at Irvine Regional Park.

CdM, behind an eighth-place individual finish by junior Ashlee Powers, finished sixth in that sweepstakes race on a cool and damp morning. That was one spot above the Warriors, who had edged the Sea Kings by four points in a league cluster meet last week. Woodbridge and CdM are ranked No. 1 and 3, respectively, in CIF Southern Section Division III, as well as No. 2 and 4 in the state by DyeStatCal.

Powers finished in 17 minutes, 38 seconds, a virtual tie with Woodbridge's Molly Babcock, who placed seventh. Junior Kristen Rivera was 25th in 18:10 in the three-mile race won by Tesoro. CdM freshman Ellen Naruse came through with a personal-best time of 18:13 to finish 28th.

CdM was deep, with sophomore Shelby Perez (18:41, 51st) and junior Megan Zwerling (18:42, 53rd) also racing well. Coach Bill Sumner pointed out that Zwerling, CdM's fifth finisher, finished 41 spots ahead of Woodbridge's fifth finisher.

"Today was a good day for the girls," Sumner said. "You get to a meet like CIF prelims, it turns out to be a pretty close meet. You get to a meet like state championships, it'll probably lean in our favor a little bit with that No. 5 runner. That's the thing."

The Sea Kings moved up a spot from seventh in the sweepstakes race at OC Championships the last two years. Those years turned out OK, with CdM winning the Division III state title each time.

Powers was about 15th midway through the race Saturday, but she said she gained ground on the asphalt hill near the end.

"I don't think there was a minute where I was really able to relax," Powers said. "I passed like probably a good six people on that hill. There were a lot of people who were just jogging up the hill. You wouldn't think the top people would be doing that."

Costa Mesa resident Ava Kent, a senior for Orange Lutheran, finished 10th in the sweepstakes race in 17:44.

The Newport Harbor girls finished eighth in the Division II race, led by sophomore Paige Tennison in 13th in 18:45.

"It was good, I finally got out and stuck with the pack," Tennison said. "There were a lot of puddles and my shoe came untied. You've got to get over it. Eventually, I forgot about it."

The Sailors are young this year, especially Saturday as senior Tori Sarris was out sick. Tennison said the team ran three freshmen, three sophomores and one junior. Other top Sailors included freshman Leah Van Dyke (19:18, 36th), sophomore Kat Maddox (19:20, 38th), freshman Kaitlyn Mead (19:40, 55th) and sophomore Maggie Goodson (19:42, 59th).

"This is the first year I've done cross country," said Maddox, who previously played tennis and soccer. "I think it's going really well. Our team gets along really well too, so that helps."

Costa Mesa High placed ninth in the Division III race behind its top finishers, senior Hunter Strodel (19:52) in 12th place and junior Raquel Friedmann (20:58) in 41st. Strodel ran her fastest time of the year.

"I've been busy with school, college applications, ASB, my internship," Strodel said. "I was really proud of myself. I haven't raced in two weeks, so I thought I did pretty well today. I always try to get as fast as I can in the beginning. There were a couple of girls here from my league, so I tried to stick with them."

Sage Hill sophomore Sophia Witte was her team's fastest runner for the second straight year in the Division III race. She finished 25th in 20:37. The Lightning, ranked No. 8 in Division V, were 15th as a team.

Witte said she enjoyed the cool weather Saturday as she shaved four seconds off her time from 2009. Last year, it was warm during the race.

"I personally like this course," she said. "We practice for hills a lot."

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