Mateo Arellano isn't your household name when it comes to the top junior surfers in southern California. In fact, you won't find him in the big events throughout the state.
At least not yet.
Arellano, 17, does most of his surfing in the Western Surfing Association (WSA) and the Calvary Christian Surfing Assocation (CCSA). Going into last week-ends CCSA event, Arellano was atop the junior boy standings after two events thanks to a title win in week 2.
But after a disappointing heat on Saturday forced him out of the junior bracket, his fate took a turn for the better.
"Usually, I would just go home after a bad heat, but my dad came running over and said there was an opening in a men's division heat, " Arellano said. " So, I got in and ended up winning two heats and making it to the finals"
He lost that final match-up but was happy to settle for second place in a division clearly a step ahead of his comfort level. Now, the Fountain Valley High School senior is looking to make that jump to bigger and better things from his surfing endeavors.
"I recently got a coach (Joel Kirouac) and he's been very motivating to me and has helped bump up my confidence a lot," he said. "I've been surfing since I was 8 and I've been serious about it the whole time, but now I'm focusing on my style, like what to do with my feet and hands. I feel I've improved a lot over the past few months."
Kirouac, who recently started working with not only Mateo, but his dad and brother as well, had high praise for his student.
"Mateo has a clean, smooth style that you will see open up and become more powerful and lofty soon" the coach said. " He pays attention and quickly puts to work in the water what we go over on film, on the beach and in his agility training"
Arellano patterns his style after top surfers Ethan Ewing and Griffin Colapinto saying, 'Ethan has the best style I've seen."
The improvement Arellano has shown is a tribute to his determination and focus. That comes though clearly when you listen to words.
"You can learn so much from surfing. The key is having a strong mind and staying focused," he said. "You have a much better chance at doing something good if you are positive about it."
Arellano takes to the water again on September 10th at Huntington Beach for event number 4 of the CCSA.