All the pressure seemed too much for Paige Tennison.
The Newport Harbor High junior was competing in her first CIF State Meet. In addition, high expectations were set on Tennison, viewed as one of the top runners in Division II. She was intimidated, she admitted. But it wasn’t enough to totally knock her off her game.
Tennison medaled at Woodward Park, finishing sixth in 17 minutes, 49 seconds on the 5K course Saturday in Fresno. The Corona del Mar girls came in eighth in Division III and the Sage Hill boys finished eighth in Division V.
“I kind of psyched myself out of it,” Tennison said by telephone Saturday afternoon. “I wasn’t as focused going into it as I should’ve been. I was really nervous.”
She said she felt nervous because of the expectations. Dyestatcal, a popular website for runners, referred to as a “heavy hitter” in the Division II race and she was known as one of the top runners in the state. Earlier in the season, she won the Orange County Championships sweepstakes individual title.
“That was why I was so nervous,” Tennison said. “I felt a lot of pressure.”
But she said she had a good experience at the state championships. Sophomore Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley won the Division II race in 17:08.
“I know what to expect next year,” Tennison said. “I was really excited about this season. I felt like I had a really good season. I didn’t expect to be up here with all these runners.”
Corona del Mar expected to be up in Fresno with the state’s elite. The Sea Kings — making their 23rd straight state meet appearance — always expect that.
The CdM girls’ program is rich in tradition with seven state championships. People sometimes tend to take the success for granted and always expect it, CdM Coach Bill Sumner said.
Dyestatcal picked CdM to finish 10th, a reasonable expectation given the Sea Kings’ youth. Sumner was pleased with the eighth-place finish and the team’s overall performance this season.
“I think it’s like we get kind of greedy because how we’ve done in the past,” Sumner said. “But I’m excited because of this group of kids … All in all, we still made it to the state championships and we got in the top 10. Nothing to complain about. At some point you realize you can’t win it all the time. We’re good. We’re a good team.”
Sumner was excited about senior Kristen Rivera’s performance, as she led the Sea Kings in the race. Senior Ashlee Powers, who has verbally committed to Southern Methodist University, is usually CdM’s No. 1 runner. But she struggled Saturday.
She caught a cold two weeks ago and she hasn’t really gotten over it, Sumner said.
Rivera finished 13th in 18:39. Powers came across in 21st in 18:52. Sophomore Ellen Naruse finished in 48th in 19:32, barely.
Naruse sprained her ankle with 150 yards left in the race, Sumner said. She stepped off the curb onto the asphalt and twisted her ankle, Sumner said, but she finished the race and should be fine.
Junior Darcie Marshall was CdM’s No. 4 runner, finishing in 65th in 19:51, and junior Shelby Perez was 92nd in 20:15. Sophomore Miranda Stiver (98th, 20:28) and freshman Kirsten Hansen (115th, 20:58) also ran for CdM.
Palos Verdes won the Division III girls’ title. Campolindo senior Carrie Verdon won the individual title in 17:19.
Junior Chris Andras led the Sage Hill boys, finishing in 21st in 16:50. Junior Dylan Thies was 40th in 17:21, senior Jack Percival came in 42nd in 17:27, junior Brennan Hicks was 58th in 17:39 and junior Ryan Fishel was 70th in 17:52.
Freshmen Alexis Michaca (104th, 18:42) and Edward Goul (135th, 20:06) also ran for Sage Hill.
St. Margaret’s won the Division V boys’ title, led by individual champ Billy Gaudreau, who finished in 15:28.
The Sage Hill boys made their third appearance at the state meet. The Lightning finished 12th in 2005 and eighth in 2007.