Wong sisters help CdM [Updated]

[Updated: Includes boys' teams scores]

CORONA DEL MAR — Corona del Mar High junior Brynne Wong is the one who gets the most swimming publicity in the Wong household, and deservedly so.

But her older sister, Natalie, also played a huge role Tuesday in the Battle of the Bay swim meet.

Natalie Wong, a senior, was the anchor of the "B" team in the meet-ending 400-yard freestyle relay. CdM Coach Doug Volding needed that "B" relay team to finish third in the event for the Sea Kings to win the meet.

"We talked about that we had to get third to win it," Natalie Wong said. "That was our goal, to win it, because we tied last year."

After the first three legs by freshmen Eliza Britt and Grace Morgan and sophomore Alex Namba, Wong hopped into the water in Lane 5 nearly simultaneously to the Newport Harbor "B" anchor in Lane 2. There was nothing "B" about Wong's effort.

Her quick anchor leg helped CdM finish first and third in that 400 free relay, earning an 86-84 victory in the girls' Battle of the Bay after the teams tied last year.

CdM's boys won 10 of 11 events to easily win the rivalry match for the fourth straight year. The Sea Kings won, 120-50.

Just like last year, the girls' meet was back and forth at the end. CdM held a 73-67 lead heading into the breaststroke, but Newport Harbor's Marissa Robertson (1:12.62), Carlee Kapana and Morganne Goodson swept the top three spots in the breast. Newport Harbor surged ahead, 80-76.

Realistically, Sailors Coach Brian Melstrom hoped for a two-three finish in the 400 free relay to win the meet. CdM's "A" team of Pippa Saunders, Ally McCormick, Brynne Wong and Hollace Barden easily won the event in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 automatic time of 3:34.70. Newport Harbor's "A" relay of Robertson, Casey Duckworth, Zoe Robles and Carly Christian finished second in 3:38.73.

That left it up to the "B" relays, and that was where CdM edged it out. Britt, Morgan, Namba and Natalie Wong touched in 3:46.99. Newport's "B" relay team of Presley Pender, Heidi Fults, Ellie Reid and Kapana finished in 3:49.53.

"I think the tie made [winning] a lot better this year," Brynne Wong said. "I think it pushed us more ... The rivalry brings out the best in both teams."

Barden won the 50 freestyle in 24.97 seconds, and the 100 free in 52.67. Brynne Wong captured the 100 butterfly (56.95) and the 100 backstroke (1:40.14) for CdM, which also win the 200 free relay. McCormick, Wong, Saunders and Barden touched in another Division 1 automatic time of 1:40.14.

Duckworth was Newport Harbor's double event-winner, as the junior won the 200 individual medley in 2:11.49 and the 500 free in a CIF automatic time of 5:06.54. Natalie Wong was second in each event.

Melstrom said Marissa Robertson, a talented sophomore, led off the 400 free relay with a lifetime-best split of 54.39 seconds.

"She's movin'," Melstrom said. "She's doing a good job ... I just wish we could have done a little bit more with our freestyle today. Their eight fastest freestylers were faster than our eight fastest freestylers, their 'As' and their 'Bs.' CdM did a good job. They've got some quality swimmers, as expected. It's such a strategic thing, putting together a meet that you hope is enough to win while not knowing what they're going to put in their events. That's the fun of the whole swim meet dynamic."

CdM's McCormick and Saunders took the top two spots in the 200 freestyle. That erased some of Newport's momentum from the first event of the meet, when the Sailors swept the top two spots in the 200 medley relay to open up a 12-2 advantage. Robertson, Duckworth, Robles and Christian were first, followed by the "B" team of sophomore Sydney Kohlenberger, Goodson, Reid and junior Allyson Hall.

The Sea Kings dominated on the boys' side. Senior Jared Namba won in CIF automatic times in the 200 IM (1:54.67), as well as the 100 back (51.64). Junior Christian Garkani was another double event-winner, placing first in the 200 free (1:46.30) and the 100 fly (53.04).

Blake Motal won the 50 free in 22 seconds flat, Ari Marks captured the 100 free in 48.20 and Tyler Lin won the 100 breast in 1:00.06. The Sea Kings also captured all three relays.

The only event Newport Harbor won was the 500 free, where Sailors junior Andrew Silvers (4:47.39) edged CdM's Paul Sigler (4:47.59) at the end. It didn't bother CdM Coach Barry O'Dea too much, nor did the slower times than in his team's big double-dual meet March 27 at Capistrano Valley. The Sea Kings beat defending Division 1 champion Loyola at the meet and hung tough with Capo Valley before falling, 89-81.

"We were faster against Capo, obviously, across the board," O'Dea said. "It's hard for me to really get into too many times, because we didn't go as fast as we did [last week]. That's kind of normal right now. They're getting beat down a little bit at practice ... now we have this meet and another league meet [Wednesday at Woodbridge]. It's a process, getting ready for CIF."

O'Dea did say he liked the progress that Marks, a senior, and Motal, a freshman, were making in the sprint freestyle events. Each had a first and second-place finish on the day.

"I'm happy with their starts, and their turns are getting better," O'Dea said. "We think that by CIF time, hopefully those two guys can have a big impact."


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