Newport Aquatic Center fares well at San Diego Fall Classic

Coming off a national championship in June, the Newport Aquatic Center junior rowing program does not want to rest on its laurels.

Nick D’Antoni, in his fourth year back coaching the program after leading the 2008 and 2009 teams to national titles, knows that the season is long.

But it was nevertheless a good showing for the Newport Aquatic Center on Sunday, when it competed at the San Diego Fall Classic regatta at Mission Bay.

The NAC boys’ varsity eight of Nathan Porter, Frank Choumas, Christian Boudreau, Grant Person, Will Gleason, Jake Marlo, Blake Richter, Spencer Ewanick and coxswain Zach Casler won their race. Marlo is a senior at Corona del Mar High, while Choumas, Richter and Casler are all seniors at Newport Harbor.

They got off to a fast start, D’Antoni said, and topped the field of 20 boats over the 5,000-meter course.

“The kids did a good job,” D’Antoni said. “Having won our national championship last year, this is for the most part a new group. To see that they’re on track, doing as well or better than last year’s group, it’s a good indication that … when we start the regular season we’re going to be ready. We’re going to be able to compete with anybody and hopefully defend our national championship.”

The Newport Aquatic Center also swept the top four spots in the varsity fours, with Ewanick, Richter, Choumas and Gleason earning the top spot with coxswain Natasha Ellis. Harrison White and Elisha Cameron won the varsity double, showcasing the program’s depth.

The NAC girls placed third in the varsity eight, with a crew of Lauren Haller, Sophie Leon, Heidi Johnson, Devon Burton, Nikolett Provenza, Miya Meskis, Lauren John, Sasa Klein and Anna Ellis.

“That group wasn’t really any of our top senior athletes, so the experience for them was great,” D’Antoni said. “This was a good chance to get the majority of the girls’ team some more racing experience.”

The girls’ lightweight eight of Paige Warmington, Shay Virtue, Alena Newland, Isabelle Tobin, Lauren Ewanick, Natalie Gess, Jane Bradbury, Judy McIntyre and Alise Cung placed fifth.

D’Antoni said the program looks forward to its next competition at the Long Beach Christmas Regatta on Dec. 3.

Twitter: @mjszabo

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