Rowing: This battle is a friendly one between Newport Harbor, Corona del Mar


In almost every high school sport, Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor meet at least once a year. The schools call the athletic event — whether it takes place on a field, track, court, course, or pool — the Battle of the Bay.

On Friday, the rivals launched the Battle on the Bay in rowing. Rowers from both schools showed up at the Newport Aquatic Center, where they are actual teammates and train three hours a day, six times a week.

In the Battle on the Bay, rowers represented their schools. School pride added a new dimension to their daily routine on the waters in the Back Bay.

The boys raced the boys and the girls raced the girls in coxed eight boats. Newport Harbor swept the two boys' 500-meter sprints, and CdM claimed the lone girls' 500-meter sprint.

Sara Clark and Elizabeth Russell made sure the Sea Kings didn't leave empty-handed.

"It was a sense of accomplishment," Clark said. "We redeemed ourselves. We haven't done this in like three years, and I think three years ago … Harbor beat us."

The organizers of the Battle on the Bay want to make it an annual competition. Billy Whitford, the National Aquatic Center executive director, is all for it. He said the school's athletic directors, Newport Harbor's Mike Zimmerman and CdM's Don Grable, support the idea.

Out of all the rival sporting events between the Sea Kings and Sailors, the Battle on the Bay might be the quickest. Each race lasted less than 2 minutes.

The athletes from both sides are some of the best in the country, with Clark and Russell bound for top crew programs, the University of Washington and UC Berkeley, respectively. Clark and Russell, both seniors, received some Newport Harbor help. Holland Hickson, from Newport Harbor, joined the Sea Kings' boat, sitting right behind Russell.

"It's a friendly competition," Russell said with a smile.

For winning, Clark said the CdM girls' team, which also included coxswain Joanne Kim, Brooke Olson, Anna Pisors, Caroline Chavos, Claudia Dinning and Natalie Batista, earned cookies. The big prize lies ahead for Clark.

Clark is a contender in the women's youth single boat event at the USRowing Youth National Championships at Lake Natoma in June. Clark is one of 15 athletes from the Newport Aquatic Center traveling up north for nationals.

The other locals are Newport Harbor's Blake Bauer and Bryant Putnam, and CdM's Nick Catranis, all three will be in the men's youth coxed four event. CdM's Dominic Pardini and Newport Harbor's Jake Sliker, Jack Dole, Tristan Hanley, Daniel Ross, Max Clemence and Ethan Ruiz are part of the men's lightweight coxed eight event. Tyler Ashoff, from Newport Harbor, is in the men's youth single event.

With so many boys from Newport Harbor qualifying for nationals, it makes sense why the Sailors claimed both races against CdM. In the top race, the Sailors caught the Sea Kings around the halfway point, before the turn.

"I was just happy to beat them," said Hanley, who's bound for the University of San Diego. "[We're going to get] some candy maybe, a little bit of food, some respect, some bragging rights."

Bauer and Luke Morton, who are both bound for the University of Washington, led Newport Harbor. The rest of the team included Jake Whelan, Adam Freeman, Sam Launder, Micah Adelsohn, Clemence and coxswain Max Lohr.

The second successful boys' team from Newport Harbor featured Alex Green, Jake Green, Sevin Gentry, Kurtis Vutborg, Sam Skinner, alumnus Matt White, Jordan Teisan, Putnam, Sliker and Ruiz.

The boys' coaches included James Long-Lerno, a former UC Berkeley rower, and Ben Hise, a former UC Irvine rower. Marketa DeQuine led the girls. DeQuine, who's from the Czech Republic, got a taste of the rivalry between CdM and Newport Harbor.

But she knows a little bit about rivalries, having rowed and coached at USC.

"Coming from USC, there's a big rivalry [between] USC-UCLA," DeQuine said, "so I'm not foreign to the concept of two cross-town rivals."

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