Tennison on path to being among Newport's best

There have been some great female runners at Newport Harbor High, such as Amber Steen, Whitney Blue, Maggie Hanson and Buffy Rabbit.

The next in line appears to be Paige Tennison.

She's a different type of runner for sure, one who excels in long distances. In track and field, she has become a star runner in the 3,200 meters.

Tennison is a junior, so she hesitates to put herself among the school's greatest of all time. She knows she has work to do before that happens.

"It would be an honor to be even considered as they are," Tennison said. "I hope I can break the school record in the 3,200. I'm about five seconds off Steen's record and I think I have a chance at it."

Tennison, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, finished fifth in the 3,200 at the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet with a personal-best time, 10 minutes, 31.15 seconds. She qualified for the CIF State Championships. She'll try to break the school record Saturday night at Buchanan High in Clovis when she competes in the finals of the 3,200.

She gained confidence with her personal record last week at Cerritos College. As she competed, the announcer introduced her as one of the elite runners in the state. She has lived up to the billing.

"It's so exciting," Tennison said of the thought of being an elite runner in California. "I never thought I'd be a runner and when I hear things like that it's so rewarding because I've worked so hard. I feel so blessed to be able to run and it's an honor to be considered an elite runner."

She showed how special she is during the fall, too. Tennison won the girls' sweepstakes title at the Orange County Cross Country Championships.

Reaching the State Meet in track and field has also been a great feat. She's making her debut in the state championships.

It gets Newport Harbor Coach Eric Tweit excited. He knows the experience will only help her as she goes into her senior year.

"We've been fortunate," Tweit said of coaching great runners like Steen, Blue, Hanson and Rabbit. "I think [Tennison] will run well [Saturday] night. We're excited.

"It's her first time at state. I want it to be a positive experience. I want her to finish in the top six and medal. If she can get on the medal stand it's just a great building block for next year."

Tweit hesitates a bit to put Tennison among the top runners in Newport's history only because he knows Tennison is nowhere near to being done. He believes she'll leave as one of the best in the school's history.

He said she's still learning, as she began running as a freshman and didn't really take off until last year. He remains confident in her because of Tennison's ability to work hard.

"When she trains she works out at higher level than anyone we've ever had," Tweit said. "Her workouts are better workouts than the other girls [in Newport history]."

The workouts helped Tennison bounce back from sickness earlier this season. She was out for two weeks, causing her to miss the Arcadia Invitational.

Tennison said she became depressed when she knew she would miss the prestigious meet. But then she realized she was grateful because if she was going to get sick, being ill early in the season was the best time.

When she returned to the track she made sure to pace herself. She said she finally felt 100% while competing at the Masters Meet last week.

The adversity gave her more strength and solidified her love for the sport.

She said she never thought she would become a runner. She grew up playing soccer. She joined the cross country team as a freshman.

"To be honest, at first I hated it," Tennison said of distance running. "But now I love it and it's the best decision I ever made in my life."

Twitter: @SteveVirgen


Paige Tennison

Born: Sept. 11, 1994

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 5-foot-5

Year: Junior

Sport: Track and field

Event: 3,200-meter run

Coach: Eric Tweit

Favorite food: Power pancakes

Favorite movie: "Bridesmaids"

Favorite athletic moment: Winning the OC Championships in cross country this past season

Week in review: Tennison finished fifth at the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet in 10:31.15, a personal best.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World