The National Scholastic Surfing Association concluded its 2023 season last week by bringing together over 550 of the best junior surfers in the nation from places the likes of California, Hawaii, Florida, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Carolinas and more.
The competitors battled all season for an opportunity to attend the National Championships and this year's event at Huntington Beach had it all. Dramatic finishes, three pairs of sibling champions and two double winners.
Now, Eye On Surfing presents the NSSA 2023 National Champions;
Open Mens (44 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Kalani Robb (2), Shion Crawford, Barron Mamiya, Jake Marshall, Ezekiel Lau, Kolohe Andino, Andy Irons.
2023 National Champion: Lucas Cassity
2nd- Gavin Lusby 3rd- Jae Wood 4th- Kai Kushner
Last year's boys division champion Lucas Cassity from Mexico, won his second NSSA National title in dramatic fashion.
Needing a 9.00, he caught a wave in the final minute and dropped the score he needed in a 9.00 which tied him for first with heat leader Gavin Lusby.
Cassity, 14, had the higher single wave score thus giving him the title.
Lusby won his first three round heats before qualifying in second for the finals.
His 8.00 and 7.17 had him in the lead most of the final before the Cassity bombshell.
Explorer Mens (27 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Ezekiel Lau (3), Blayr Barton, Levi Young, Dimitri Poulos, Nick Marshall, Kalani David, Ryan Simmons
2023 National Champion: Luke Tema
2nd- Matteus Santos 3rd- Oliver Zeitz 4th- Titus Santucci
Hawaii's Luke Tema won last year's Open Junior title and came back this year and took down the Explorer Men's championship with a 12.67 final heat score slipping past Matteus Santos by 0.44.
Oliver Zeitz was attempting to be a double winner on the day having already won the Junior title and led early with an 8.17 wave score.
But Tema put together the rides he needed to take home the top prize.
Last year, Tema broke through by winning his first NSSA national crown.
Open Womens (20 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Carissa Moore (4), Caroline Marks (2), Lakey Peterson (2), Bella Kenworthy, Pua DeSoto, Gabriela Bryan, Brisa Hennessy, Courtney Conlogue.
2023 National Champion Sara Freyre
2nd- Lanea Mons 3rd- Maddie Storrer 4th- Marlo Leigh Harris
Huntington Beach's Sara Freyre won her second consecutive Womens championship, when she rolled a huge 16.07 finals heat total.
It the heat, she had a 9.67 which came early in the heat and gave her a big lead.
Despite that, Florida champion Lanea Mons actually held the lead late, but Freyre made her last wave count with a 6.40 giving her a win by just 0.64.
Mons had a high wave of 8.10 to help her score of 15.43. Freyre and Mons each won all three of their early round heats.
Freyre became the first Women's back-to-back national champion since current touring pro Caroline Marks did it in 2014-15.
Explorer Womens (12 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Leila Hurst (3), Carissa Moore (2), Gabriela Bryan (2), Pua DeSoto (2), Bella Kenworthy, Caroline Marks, Tatiana Weston-Webb
2023 National Champion Haylee Boverman
2nd- Maddie Storrer 3rd- Lanea Mons 4th- Isla Sexton
Hawaii's Haylee Boverman put her stamp on the Womens final match when she dropped an 8.17 on her third scoring wave and rode that to a 14.80 heat total to defeat Northern California runner up Maddie Storrer.
Ironically, Boverman finished second in both of her qualifying heats leading into the final but came out on top when it counted the most.
Her 14.80 finals total was the highest of the day in the division.
Open Juniors U16 (66 Entires)
Past Winners Include: Luke Tema, Cole Houshmand, Eithan Osborne, Griffin Colapinto, Kalani David, Parker Coffin, Rob Machado.
2023 National Champion Eeli Timperi
2nd- Dylan Sloan 3rd- Lucas Cassity 4th- Ren Okano
Encinitas surfer Eeli Timperi, originally from Finland, came up with a dramatic win nailing his final wave attempt to a score of 8.00 just enough to defeat leader Dylan Sloan by 0.84.
Sloan, from Huntington Beach, had the early lead after wave scores of 6.33 and 7.33. His lead was cut by Lucas Cassity, when the latter dropped a 7.97 with two minutes left.
However, it was Timperi's 8.00 in the final second that eclipsed Sloan as the two waited beachside for the announcement.
The win was the third big victory for Timperi in the month. In the weeks leading up to the championships he won the Rip Curl Grom search and USA Surfing National Championship title.
Explorer Juniors 17 & U (43 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Andy Irons (2), Jake Marshall (2), Parker Coffin, Damien Hobgood, Cory Lopez, Blayr Barton
2023 National Champion Oliver Zeitz
2nd- Matteus Santos 3rd- Luke Tema 4th- Jack Zoltan
Hawaii Surfer Oliver Zietz won his second consecutive Explorer Juniors title when he dropped scores of 8.33 and 8.43 en route to a huge 16.76 finals heat total.
As it turned out he would need every last point of that.
In a crazy final with big scores dropping with ease, Zeitz trailed leader Matteus Santos as both jumped up and split the peak on one final wave at the buzzer.
Needing a 7.34 for the title Zeitz came through with a final attempt he rode all the way to the beach and then waited for the announcement that his 8.43 was enough to give him the national title.
Runner up Santos had a 15.67 heat aided by a high score of 8.50 and third place finisher Luke Tema had a 14.10 heat with a 7.5 0 high wave score.
Open Girls U16 (27 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Caroline Marks (3), Bella Kenworthy (2), Brisa Hennessy, Sawyer Lindblad, Luana Silva
2023 National Champion Zoie Zeitz
2nd- Lanea Mons 3rd- Kaydn Persidok 4th- Olivia Storrer
After watching her brother Oliver take home the Explorer Championship, younger sister Zoie went out in her Open division and won a national title of her own.
The final turned out to be a matchup of high scores between Zietz and Lanea Mons.
Zietz dropped scores of 6.73 and 8.50 in her four wave attempts while Mons completed five waves with her final one being an 8.00 not enough though to get Zietz. Zoie ended up winning by 0.63 with a 15.23 heat total.
In earlier rounds, Zietz put up a 14.97 in the semi-final which included a huge 9.00 ride and a 13.84 in the quarters.
Explorer Girls 14 & U (21 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Caroline Marks (2), Alyssa Spencer, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Carissa Moore, Bella Kenworthy, Pua DeSoto.
2023 National Champion Maddie Stanton
2nd- Teagan Meza 3rd- Peeta Kenworthy 4th- Zoie Zeitz
Encinitas Surfer Maddie Stanton saved her best for last in the Girls Explorers final, when she came from behind and dropped the 9.00 on her final ride attempt, to eclipse the field and take home the title.
Stanton found herself in third place early on with her score of 4.83, trailing Tegan Meza who had a 6.33 and Peeta Kenworthy who dropped a 5.83.
Stanton won two of her three qualifying heats leading into the final, but the final heat score was her highest of the day.
Open Boys U14 (52 Entries)
Past Winners Include: John John Florence (2), Kelly Slater, Strider Wasilewski, Ian Gentil, Lucas Cassity, Jake Marshall, Kanoa Igarashi, Connor Coffin,
2023 National Champion Makai Castle
2nd- Kahlil Schooley 3rd- Rintaro Suneya 4th- Zal Costa
Huntington Beach surfer Makai Castle continued a very strong run he has been on all summer, with his first national title.
Earlier in the month Castle took home two titles in the NSSA West Coast Championships and follow that up with a good showing in the USA championships.
After an earlier than expected exit in the Explorer division, Castle came back in the open and surfed his way to a title.
In a very competitive final heat Castle dropped his two highest scores after a slow start. His 6.17 and a 5.90 topped Explorer Champion Kahlil Schooley, winning by 0.87 with a 12.07 heat total.
Castle rolled through the first three rounds of qualifying winning all three heats with scores of 13.83, 13.50 and 16.50 which featured a high wave of 8.67.
Explorer Boys 14 & U (56 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Kolohe Andino (2), Rylan Beavers (2), Griffin Colapinto, Keanu Asing, Kalani David, Evan Geiselman
2023 National Champion Kahlil Schooley
2nd- Tanner Sandvig 3rd- Zal Costa 4th- Teddy Witteman
Hawaii's Kahlil Schooley opened the championship heat with his two highest scores of the round, with a 6.67 and 6.77 and used the advantage to take control and take the title.
Runner-up Tanner Sandvig tried valiantly to catch him, dropping a 7.67 later in his heat, but Schooley's 13.44 would stand at top all.
Sandvig won three of his four qualifying heats to make it into the finals, including a 13.74 total in the quarterfinals.
Later in the week, Schooley would also make the open boys under 14 finals, only to finish second.
Open Super Girls U14 (28 Entries)
2023 National Champion Marlo Leigh Harris
2nd- Kadyn Persidok 3rd- Olivia Storrer 4th- Zoey Kaina
After finishing 4th in the Open Women's Division, Marlo Leigh Harris came back short time later and took the title in the open Super Girls U14 division.
She did so by getting off to a red-hot start in her final with the 7.17 on her opening wave, taking an early lead.
Runner up Kaydn Persidok stayed close.
She had a 6.33 early in her heat, but Harris put the final way with a 5.07 on her last attempt in a heat that didn't offer a lot to the competitors.
Harris' winning total was 12.24 putting Persidok in second with a 10.00.
Explorer Super Girls 12 & U (20 Entries)
2023 National Champion Zoe Panettiere
2nd- Story Martinez 3rd- Teagan Meza 4th- Mana Cazimero
One of the rapidly improving young ladies in the San Diego area, Zoe Panettiere won her first national title when she took control of the under-12 division with a 6.67 and a 6.53 for a 13.20 heat total.
Panettiere caught just three waves in the entire final, but it was enough to beat out Story Martinez, who's 9.33 total landed her in second place.
Panettiere also took second place later in the week in the Open Mini Grom Girls U12 division.
Open Mini Groms U12 (32 Entries)
Past Winners Include: John John Florence, Jett Schilling, Nick Marshall, Kei Kobayashi, Kalani David, Kolohe Andino
2023 National Champion Finn Castle
2nd- Zion Walla 3rd- Shuto Lida 4th- Wyatt Yount
To show that was no fluke, he came back in the national championships and duplicated that feat.
In one of the most competitive four-way heats of the event, Castle won his open title with a 14.44 heat total on just two waves scored.
They happen to be an 8.17 and a 6.27. His opponents combined to catch 13 ways between the three of them, but none of them could get enough to catch Castle.
Zion Walla was second best with a high of 7.83 and a 12.96 total, Shuto Lida was third with a 6.67 in his 11.84 total and rounding out the foursome was Wyatt Yount, who had an impressive 11.30 total of his own including a 5.83.
Explorer Menehuene 12 & U (41 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Kolohe Andino (2), John John Florence, Ryan Huckabee, Barron Mamiya, Kalani David, John Mel
2023 National Champion Finn Castle
2nd- Tanner Sandvig 3rd- Bode Davis 4th- Kona Costa
Finn Castle won the first of his two national titles in the week when he took down the Explorer Boys title.
The younger of the Finn Brothers came out on fire dropping a 7.67 and a 6.97 in his first three waves. In fact, those are the only waves he caught, but they were good enough for a 14.64 heat total.
San Clemente's Tanner Sandvig ended up riding seven waves in a come from behind effort but fell just short as he dropped a 7.10 and 6.37 for a 13.47 heat total.
Earlier in his quarter final matchup Castle dropped at 9.00 in route to a 15.90 heat total.
Open Mini Grom Girls U12 (20 Entries)
2023 National Champion Ruby Stringfellow
2nd- Auburn Hilley 3rd- Story Martinez 4th- Zoe Panetierre
All season long, Ruby Stringfellow seemed on a mission to make this year's NSSA division hers, and after a second-place finish in the West Coast Championships, she delivered on her goal winning the Open Mini Grom Girls national title.
Stringfellow seemed determined from the get-go, as her 5.50 wave put her in the lead, and she nailed down a comfortable lead after a 7.67.
Her final score of 13.27 put her on top of Auburn Hilley who had a great wave score of 9.00 during the heat.
In the qualifying, Stringfellow had a 14.50 which was helped by a 7.67 wave score in the semi-finals and previously won her quarter-final heat with a 12.33.
Open U10 Boys (12 Entries)
2023 National Champion Cruz Freyre
2nd- Pohaku Lambeth 3rd- Neon Kasuya 4th- Yates Harris
A few hours after his sister, Sara Freyre, won her back-to-back women's titles, younger brother Cruz hit the water and in no time at all, put his stamp on the under 10 division.
His first wave score out of the blocks was a 9.50 and he backed that up right afterward with a 6.00 giving him a 15.50 heat score.
The heat was in no way over however, as Hawaii's Pohaku Lambeth made a spirited run at the leader dropping an 8.43 and a 6.93, but his 15.36 total ended up just 0.14 short of Freyre.
During the season, Freyre won 6 titles of the 8 he competed in.
Explorer Super Groms 10 & U (27 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Tommy Coleman, Jackson Bunch, Legend Chandler, Levi Young, Kai Martin, Jak Ziets
2023 National Champion Keali'l Lambeth
2nd- Pohaku Lambeth 3rd- Teagan Meza 4th- Kea Moody
Keali'l Lambeth may have been one of the smallest kids in the competition, but that did not stop him from putting up the biggest score of anybody.
His first two waves were in 8.33 and an 8.67 but facing a battle from his brother Pohaku, who dropped the 8.93, Keali'l put the matter at hand to rest with a perfect 10 on his fourth wave attempt.
It was the only perfect score of the 8 days of competition.
Open U10 Girls (10 Entries)
2023 National Champion Mana Cazimero
2nd- Shylar Miller 3rd- Madison Cambier 4th- Mahina Friend
Mana Cazimero from Hawaii surfed away with the girl's youngest division, when she dropped scores of 7.33 and 5.90 in the final.
Her 13.23 heat score had her well in front of the competition.
Skylar Miller finished second with a 6.27 combined score and Madison Cambier managed a 6.20 score for third.
Open Longboard (7 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Chase Lieder (2), Mack Landry (2), Gavin Idone,
2023 National Champion Alana Johnson
2nd- Kydon Larrabee 3rd- Wynter Larrabee 4th- Zander Bell
Alana Johnson from Hawaii proved to be the queen of the Longboard during the week, as she took home two national titles.
In the Open, she surfed her way to scores of 7.33 and 8.00 for a 15.33 heat score. The brothers Larrabee. Kydon and Wynter, finished second and third respectively with scores of 13.76 and 12.00.
Kydon had a huge 9.00 ride during his final.
Explorer Womens Longboard (6 Entries)
2023 National Champion Alana Johnson
2nd- Pualohi DeFries 3rd- Bella Eberiz 4th- Kaiya Oliva
Johnson won her first title earlier in the week, when she dropped a 14.60 score with marks of 7.00 and 7.60.
Puaiohi DeFries had a 9.67 heat score for runner up.
Explorer Longboard (6 Entries)
Past Winners Include: Chase Lieder (2), Trip Chandler (2), Pue DeSoto
2023 National Champion Kaimana Domen
2nd- Alana Johnson 3rd- Zander Bell 4th- Kydon Larrabee
In a 6-surfer final, Kaimana Domen from Hawaii dropped his highest score of the heat, a 6.90 on his last wave, nailing down the title over for the two-time winner Alana Johnson.
Johnson would win two national titles during the week and in this final she had a high wave score of 7.83.
Zander Bell, from New York, had a solid third place finish with an 11.66 final score.