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Breakthrough continues for Newport Aquatic Center girls

Newport Aquatic Center senior rowers gather for a photo.
Newport Aquatic Center senior rowers Olivia Wilson, Kate Nowak, Caroline Rader, Amelia Haney, Addie Jardim, Sydney Harris, Charlotte Dosier, Olivia Aceves, Alex Pearson, Sabrina Baker and Keira Cox, from left, will all be joining their respective colleges of choice in the fall.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
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The Newport Aquatic Center girls’ junior rowing program has grown into one of the top programs in the country in the last few years.

With that steady growth has come not only much improved times but friendships that will surely last beyond the confines of a high school career.

Charlotte Dosier is a Huntington Beach High senior who has been in the program for six years and is headed to row at the University of Pennsylvania.

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“Starting out here, I feel like the program was kind of how I was — very timid and small, just some girls coming and working out,” Dosier said. “As the years went on, I feel like it’s grown into something more than a place where people work out and row. It’s become a community. Everyone hangs out with each other. We’re all friends, we all love to see each other every day.

“It’s funny, we see each other six times a week, and the day we don’t see each other, we’re texting each other because we miss each other.”

Dosier has been in the Newport Aquatic Center varsity eight boat for two years now. She and some of her closest friends are in Florida, getting ready for the year-ending USRowing Youth National Championships.

Newport Aquatic Center's senior rowers at a college signing event on May 28.
Newport Aquatic Center’s senior rowers include back row, from left, Kate Nowak, Addie Jardim, Olivia Wilson, Caroline Rader and Keira Cox. Front row from left, Sabrina Baker, Alex Pearson, Olivia Aceves, Sydney Harris, Charlotte Dosier and Amelia Haney.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The regatta starts Thursday, and NAC brought three different varsity women’s boats to the competition. Second-year coach Weston Cole has high hopes for each.

Last year, the NAC women’s varsity eight finished in third place, medaling for the first time in program history and improving two spots from a fifth-place finish in 2022. Another two-spot improvement would mean the boat wins the national title.

There’s definitely reason for optimism. Newport won the women’s varsity eight race in the prestigious San Diego Crew Classic in March for the first time in program history. At the Southwest Regionals, held in Gold River in early May, Newport finished second in the varsity eight behind last year’s national champion Marin, while the NAC second and third boats took the top two spots in the JV competition.

“This is four or five years of work,” Cole said. “I got here last year, and definitely we got better, but this all started four years ago. The seniors have been here throughout that. It’s really cool for them to see the rewards for all of the work they’ve put in. I know a lot of them have had ups and downs throughout their career, but this year has been a lot of success. They’ve gotten to see that through multiple years of work, it will pay off.”

The program held a signing day ceremony for the seniors at the facility on May 28.

Coxswain Grace Galipeau, a junior at CdM, is the other local rower in the varsity eight boat. The other rowers include San Juan Hills senior Chloe Sorensen, bound for Harvard, in the bow seat, with fellow graduating seniors Olivia Aceves of Los Alamitos, headed for USC, and Foothill’s Alex Pearson, who is bound for Cal.

Juniors on the top boat include Allegra Steege and Sydney Chait-Walter of Los Alamitos, as well as Katie Dahl of Long Beach Millikan. Lily Gonzalez of Millikan, a sophomore, rounds out the boat.

Cole said the varsity eight also has qualified to row at the Henley Royal Regatta in England for the first time ever in program history, in July.

“That’s a huge deal,” he said.

Sydney Harris, a Huntington Beach High senior bound for Tennessee, has the stroke seat on the second varsity boat.

“When I came here, one boat going to nationals was a huge deal, or even making the Grand Final at regionals,” Harris said. “To see how the team has evolved in that way, we just keep pushing the standard higher and higher and higher. We set out goals and put in the work to get to the goals, and we’ve seen the result of it.”

Newport Aquatic Center senior rowers sign their letters on intent during a signing ceremony on May 28.
Newport Aquatic Center senior rowers sign their letters on intent during a signing ceremony on May 28.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Notre Dame-bound Mater Dei senior Amelia Haney, who lives in Costa Mesa, is another local on the second varsity boat. Haney has the bow seat, which makes her like the glue that holds the boat together.

The boat also includes CdM senior Kate Nowak, bound for UC San Diego, and Edison senior Julia Channell, headed for the University of Minnesota. Newport Harbor juniors Kiana Banta and Eden Smith also have spots.

Haney said that at Southwest Regionals, she and her teammates had open water by the 750-meter mark of the 2,000-meter race.

“We just kept pushing for more and more,” she said. “Our goal was to win by the biggest gap possible, and we really did that. So I think that it’s been a really successful season, but we want to keep pushing for more.”

Addie Jardim, a Newport Harbor senior bound for UC San Diego, is one of the more experienced rowers in the third boat. That group also includes Newport Harbor juniors Maeve Proud, Bita Roham (stroke seat) and Zulema Zunzunegui (coxswain), as well as sophomore Sophia Lin.

“it’s nice to have teammates that row with me in my boat that I get to see at school every day,” Jardim said. “It’s helped us bond and work harder together … Those medals, that hardware, all of those accomplishments, they’re not just given to us because of our reputation. We have to go back and earn it every year, put in the work to have that rightful spot and reputation. I think that’s a mindset that we’ve really bought into this year.”

CdM junior Gabby Bertoia is in the bow seat on the third varsity boat, while Costa Mesa junior Mariah Zepeda is in the No. 3 seat.

Senior rowers and coach Weston Cole, pictured at the Newport Aquatic Center.
Senior rowers Keira Cox, Sabrina Baker, Charlotte Dosier, Olivia Aceves, Alex Pearson, Sydney Harris, Addie Jardim, Caroline Rader, Olivia Wilson, Kate Nowak, Amelia Haney and coach Weston Cole, pictured at the Newport Aquatic Center.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Other graduating seniors planning to row in college include CdM’s Sabrina Baker, headed to UCLA. San Juan Hills senior Keira Cox is headed to the University of Washington, Crean Lutheran senior Caroline Rader will row for Southern Methodist University and Foothill seniors Olivia Wilson and Alex Pearson are bound for USC and Cal, respectively.

Dosier will be back in time for the Huntington Beach High graduation on June 12, though some of her boat-mates who go to other schools won’t be so lucky. But even if she would have missed walking across the stage, she wouldn’t have minded.

“It’s a different type of feeling of accomplishment,” she said. “Graduating high school, don’t get me wrong, it’s a big deal. But winning a national championship is something that only nine people get to do. It’s something that you’re going to hold, even when you’re in a retirement home at 85.”

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