NEWPORT BEACH — Corona del Mar High Coach Gary Almquist said he spent last season's Battle of the Bay under the knife. He was undergoing double-knee replacement surgery when his wrestlers visited him at the hospital.
The Sea Kings had just beat Newport Harbor. Instead of flowers, they brought Almquist a gift from the match, a framed Golden Singlet.
Almquist said he has no recollection of the wrestlers showing up.
"I was all drugged up," Almquist said with a laugh.
Almquist will clearly remember Thursday night's Battle of the Bay at Newport Harbor. He was on a natural high.
The Sea Kings owned the Battle of the Bay for the second straight year, outlasting the Sailors, 37-30. The event went down to the wire as the one last season.
Almquist has heard the stories of how his Sea Kings managed to hold on at the end, despite dropping the final match. The same wrestler who finished last season's match for CdM capped Thursday's affair.
Cody Forrest closed it out in grand fashion.
The circumstances were a lot different this time around in the 215-pound match. The Sea Kings led, 31-30, all they needed was a Forrest win.
Forrest pounded one out in 42 seconds.
The junior pinned Newport Harbor's Ramiro Rodriguez. The Sea Kings stormed onto the mat and celebrated with Forrest, who recorded the team's fifth pin of the evening.
"When I got on the mat, I could feel I had the strength to take him down," Forrest said of Rodriguez, an opponent he faced for the first time.
"I wrestled in the same weight class in the last [Battle of the Bay]. I lost, but I lost by just enough for our team to win. I lost by like four. If I had lost by anymore, we would've lost as a team."
Forrest made sure the Golden Singlet stayed with CdM. Almquist joked that he might have to wear the singlet home.
Since the two schools began competing for the Golden Singlet 10 years ago, they have split it. Almquist said this is the first time the Sea Kings have won it two straight years.
The Sea Kings pulled it off because of its studs, 152-pounder Chad Caraway and 160-pounder Jensen Reinhart, recorded pins, and only one of Newport's top wrestlers won via pin.
The Sailors wound up with just one pin, produced by 189-pounder Bradley Beaudette against Jake Burger in 1:41. The other pin Newport Harbor expected in the 171-pound weight class never materialized.
Colin Krum battled for CdM, wrestling Ryan Cerrato of Newport Harbor. Cerrato came away with just a 4-0 victory.
"That was really the dual meet right there," Almquist said. "[Krum] lost, but he won the dual meet for us.
"I told [my wrestlers] it would come down to who got pinned the fewest amount of times will win."
Newport Harbor Coach Dominic Bulone uttered the same words before the Battle of the Bay. Both the Sailors and Sea Kings had a warm-up before the Battle of the Bay, competing against El Toro.
Newport Harbor easily beat the Chargers, 71-12, and CdM won, 52-18. When the main event began inside the small gym at Newport Harbor, students, parents and teachers sat on chairs.
The Battle of the Bay drew a large, intimate crowd.
The Back Bay rivalry has been close the past two years. The latest one did not disappoint.
The Sea Kings opened with a pin and ended it with the same result, helping them claim the Golden Singlet with Almquist in attendance. He credited his two assistants, Ryan Montgomery and Seth Seneca, for doing all the dirty work.
"They're in there wrestling every single day," said Almquist, who after his surgery can no longer roll around on the mat the way he used to when he took over at CdM 15 years ago.