The National Scholastic Surfing Association had a little of everything thrown at them during the three-day State Championships that featured some of the best college, high school and middle school surfers from California this past weekend at Huntington Beach.
Yes there was some sun (not much), cold temps and wind (plenty) and yes even a few rain drops. Despite all that, the event showed some high-level surfing, awarding the title of State Champion to 3 teams and 12 individuals.
In the middle school division, Oak Crest (Encinitas) won the state title for the second straight year, featuring just 1 champion but placing four other surfers in the finals.
At the high school level, powerhouse San Clemente High won both the Varsity and Junior Varsity championships. The Varsity had 1 winner and placed 7 more in the finals while the Junior Varsity had three winners.
The College final was taken by Westcliff University from Irvine. Although founded in 1993, the school is new to the surfing scene, competing in just their second year in the event.
"Westcliff is the only university right now offering full ride scholarships for surfing and it's great to see that come to fruition, " said freshman Jordy Collins. "They are putting a focus in into the sport and it's helping us get through school. A win like this helps show that it's all worth it."
So lets get right to the results and the state champions.
Finals: Jordy Collins (Westcliff) 12.96, Alex Fry (UCSC) 12.40 Tony Nunez (Cal Poly) 11.63, Ethan Mudge (PLNU) 10.87, Jake Vandenburg (Pepperdine) 8.74, Jackson Butler (PLNU) 8.43
Freshman Jordy Collins nailed a 6.63 in the closing seconds to overtake leader Alex Fry and win the first singles state title in Westcliffe University's history. This is just the second year in existence for the surf team at Westcliff.
Collins, a business major, caught just three waves in the final but had a 12.96 heat total (6.63 and 6.33) for the win. Runner up Fry caught 9 waves but could only manage a 6.50 and 5.90 for a 12.40. Tony Nunez had the high wave of the heat with a 7.33 and settled for third.
"The waves in the final were not easy, but contestable," Collins said. "I was able to get the late score that I needed and got the win."
Other High Scores: Jackson Butler had a 7.67 in a 14.10 quarterfinal win; Jake Vandenburg (7.13/13.80) in a round 1 win, Sam Reichel (8.67/13.67) in a round 1 win; Jake DeMatteo (7.17/13.44) round two win.
Finals: Makena Burke (UCSD) 13.60, Lilie Kulber (UCLA) 13.50, Tiare Thompson (USC) 10.50, Taylor Stacy (Saddleback) 8.00, Silke Martinez (Westcliff) 7.63, Sofia Freyre (Westcliff) 6.84.
Sophomore Makena Burke jumped out to big lead in the women's final with scores of 7.33 and 6.26 and was never caught to take her first singles state title.
She also had the high heat score of the event for the women when she put up 17.43 score in the repechage heat with scores of 9.00 and 8.43.
Lilie Kulber made a valiant effort at catching her, but her last big chance fell short as a 7.17, but it did put her in second place. Tiare Thompson had a 5.83 for a 10.50 good enough for third place.
"The tide was pretty bottomed out but it could have been worse, but I think the wind helped with the swell," said the human biology student Burke. "I'm super excited to win. I had a lot of friends and family out here today, so the win meant a lot."
Other High Scores: Kulber ( 9.17/17.17) in a round one win, Tiare Thompson (8.17/12.57) in a quarterfinal win.
Finals: Ben Kappes (Cal Poly) 15.33, Jake DeMatteo (USC) 13.20, Raymond Sayles (UCSC) 12.80, Trent Webster (UCSD) 9.60, Ethan Kastenburg (UCSB) 5.97, Josh Collins (BYU) 5.77
Senior Ben Kappes took command early, battled Jake DeMatteo in mid heat and won it late with a 7.83 wave score in winning his second state title.
The forestry major had a backup score of 7.50 for a 15.33 heat score. DeMatteo had a 6.67 high in his runner-up 13.20 score and Raymond Sayles finished third with a 6.67 heat score.
"The final was interesting, " Kappe said. "Friday was super fun. It was a little glassier and you could get them all the way from the outside. Today was a little rougher, but still good for longboarding."
Other High Scores: Raymond Sayles (7.00/13.50) in a quarterfinal win, Jake DeMatteo dropped a 6.33 in his repechage win.
High School Varsity Men
Finals: Ben Brantell (San Clemente) 14.50, David O'Keefe (Newport Harbor) 14.33, Dane Matson (San Clemente) 12.96, Titus Santucci (San Dieguito) 9.40, Hans Odriozola (Edison) 8.50, Brayden Burch (San Clemente) 6.14
After years of competing in NSSA events, this was the first win ever for Ben Brantell and it claimed him a state championship.
He jumped out in front with scores of 7.33 and 7.17 and had reigning national champion David O'Keefe (8.50 on his first wave) and Dane Matson (sitting with a 7.13) close behind. After a fury of waves at the conclusion of the heat, Brantell's score stayed on top.
" It was fun, a little struggle both days, but we made the most of it, ' Brantell said. " I just went out there and caught two good waves. Towards the end, David and Dane were both in the mix, but near the end I fell into a good wave and held on."
Other High Scores: Dane Matson (9.33/17.93) in a quarterfinal win; David O'Keefe (9.10/16.60) in his round 2 win; Titus Santucci (8.00/15.00) in a quarterfinal win; Hans Odriozola (8.00/14.93) in a round 1 win.
High School Varsity Women
Finals: Sara Freyre (Huntington Beach) 14.17, Sierra Downer (San Clemente) 13.26, Addison McPhillips (San Clemente) 12.37, Syd Ott (San Dieguito) 9.73, Veronica Hughes (San Dieguito) 9.37, Mara Morales (Edison) 8.44
Sara Freyre is no stranger to winning titles as a defending national champion, and she took state honors here with scores of 6.67 and 7.50 for her winning score of 14.17.
Sierra Downer had a good final with a high of 7.33 but managed only second place. Addison McPhillips dropped a late 8.10 but it was only good enough for third place.
Freyre recently competed in the Usher Cup in Australia and returned from a Hawaii trip just days before the event.
"Traveling definitely trains me to surf in every type of waves and I get to experience new stuff," Freyre said. " These waves were grindy, but fun. It's an advantage that I live here and get to surf here every day, but it was still pretty tough. Just came down to who got the waves."
Other High scores; Freyre (8.33/16.50) in her quarterfinal win, Syd Ott (6.67/13.27) in a quarterfinal win, Mara Morales (6.50/11.90) her repechage win.
High School Varsity Longboard
Finals: Tanner Bellarose (Huntington Beach) 13.10, Wesley Rehberg (San Clemente) 8.83, Giovanni Horta (Mira Costa) 8.66, Baron Banuelos (Dana Hills) 8.60, Pierce O'Leary (Palos Verdes) 7.47, Chad Wadsworth (Newport Harbor) 6.13
Tanner Bellarose shed his bridesmaid status.
Ater finishing second on his last two state finals, he broke through and won the title.
After a slow start, Bellarose got hot at the end, scoring waves of 7.33 and 5.77 on his seventh and ninth waves ridden. It was enough to win as runner up Wesley Rehberg could only manage a high of 5.63 in his nine attempts.
"The conditions were not ideal," Bellarose said. " I just tried hard to get some luck and hoped for the best. This is the first time I won this after two second place finishes, so it feels great to win.
Other High Scores; Wesley Rehberg (8.67/16.00) in a semifinal heat win, Bellarose (8.00/13.50) in his semifinal win, Baron Banuelos (5.50/9.83) in a semifinal score.
High School JV Men
Finals: Kai Finn (San Clemente) 15.83, Hunter Grange (Huntington Beach) 11.97, Logan Moss (Huntington Beach) 9.50, Charley Stevens (San Clemente) 9.06, Dax McPhillips (San Clemente) 7.73, Ryder McDaniel (Huntington Beach) 6.93
Freshman Kai Finn pulled the biggest win of his surfing career, in claiming the state title with a 15.83 final heat score.
He did so by catching only two waves but scored a 7.00 and 8.83 with them.
" Thes waves were tough, but I stuck to that wide sandbar and got the two rights that ended up setting up for me," Finn said. "Once I got the lead, I just stayed out the back and tried to get the best waves so nobody else could."
Hunter Grange was second best with an 11.97 total and a high wave score of 6.30 and freshman Logan Moss had a 5.67 in a 9.50 third place finish.
Other High Scores; Ryder McDaniel (6.57/12.24) in a round 1 win, Finn (6.07/11.90) in a quarterfinal win, Hunter Grange (5.33/10.50) in a repechage win.
High School JV Women
Finals: Ezra McPhillips (San Clemente) 14.34, Audrey Denos (San Clemente) 9.27, Elisie Stubblefield (Newport Harbor) 3.87, Karis Bruno (Redondo Union) 2.86, Ryan Jurgens (Redondo Union) 1.53, Coral Coye (Mira Costa (N/A)
Sophomore Ezra McPhillips put her finals heat away early with an 8.17 and avenged her second-place finish of a year ago with her first state title win.
She backed that up with a 6.17 and easily outdistanced runner up Audrey Denos. Elsie Stubblefield finished third.
"The waves were really fun. It was hard to find good ones, but I was able to get a couple that helped me," McPhillips said. " My 8.17 I could tell it was going to have a wall on it and it worked out well. Getting the lead takes the pressure off. "
Other High Scores; Denos had a (7.00/12.67) in a semifinal win.
High School JV Longboard
Finals: Zeke Rose (San Clemente) 11.50, DY Girvin (Newport Harbor) 11.30, Peter Toummajian (Mira Costa) 6.73, Asher Vollen (Redondo Union) 4.07, Garrett Rini (Huntington Beach) 3.57, Gunnar Kehrli (Palos Verdes) 3.04
San Clemente senior Zeke Rose took command of his longboard heat and then held off a late charge by runner up DY Girvin to take the state title by 0.20.
Rose opened the scoring with a 4.67 and later added a 6.83 to take the lead. Girvin popped rides of 5.73 and 5.57 in the closing stages of the heat but could not catch Rose.
"It was a little windy but super fun with some good sections I was able to capitalize on, " Rose said. " The key was to catch as many waves as possible and stick to the outside."
Middle School Boys
Finals: Jaime Veselko (Sowers) 15.34, Jett Maughan (Oak Crest) 11.93, Oliver Rowe (Oak Crest) 11.43, Tanner Sandvig (Shorecliffs) 10.97, Westley Young (Bernice Ayer) 9.27, Bodhi Aguilar (Shorecliffs) 6.37
Jaime Veselko won all four of his heats and capped his weekend off with his highest wave score of the event locking up his first state title.
His 8.17 with a 6.67 backup was enough to beat a talented group of young surfers.
Veselko won his earlier heats with scores of 13.67, 13.17 and 13.04 before dropping a 15.34 finals heat score.
"In the final, the waves changed a lot from the morning. It was pretty windy and bumpy in the afternoon but there were a couple of good ones out there," Veselko said. "I was kind of lucky to get a few good ones and smarter thinking helped also. It was my first time doing this event and its pretty cool to win it.'"
Jett Maughan finished second but made news earlier in the day when he dropped a perfect 10.00 in a 19.00 heat total (of a possible 20).
Other High Scores; Oliver Rowe (8.67/17.17) in a quarterfinal heat win, Tanner Sandvig (9.10/16.20) in a quarterfinal win, Finn McCarty (7.67/13.10) in a round 1 win; Harvey Nelson (6.93/12.43) in a round 1 win.
Middle School Girls
Finals: Victoria Duprat (Oakcrest) 14,67, Happy Sagar (Shorecliffs) 9.74, Marlo Leigh Harris (Shorecliffs), Shea Sherman (Oak Crest) 7.26, Maxima Resano (Oak Crest) 6.34, Kavella Morrison (Sowers) 3.57
Victoria Duprat has been on quite a roll this year and it continued with a state title in the middle school division.
Duprat dropped an 8.17 on her third scoring wave and rode it to a 14.67 heat score and the easy win.
" It was really fun out there, the waves were challenging but there were definitely some opportunities," Duprat said. " There is always room to improve so I just keep going out there and try to get better."
Duprat breezed into the final with her quarterfinal 14.40 heat score.
Happy Sagar finished second with a 9.74 heat total and Marlo Leigh Harris had a third-place result with an 8.13 score.
Other High Scores; Marlo Leigh Harris (7.67/14.00) in a quarterfinal win; Shea Sherman (4.40/7.07) in her repechage heat.
Middle School Longboard
Finals: Luke Stark (Marco Forester) 14.67, Westley Young (Bernice Ayer) 9.07, Tanner Sandvig (Shorecliffs) 7.43, Sawyer Southern (Oak Crest) 7.27, Grayson Agriesti (Dwyer) 5.00, Hailey Stephens (Sowers) 1.93.
Eighth Grader Luke Stark
scored the highest wave of the final when he dropped an 8.00 en route to a 14.67 heat total and the championship.
In the semifinal, Stark also dropped an 8.00 in his 14.00 heat win, dominating the division from start to finish.
"The waves were fun, " Stark said. " They were kind of choppy and stormy but I tried to just give it my best and it worked out. Longboarding is something I've kind of always done and will continue to do it.".
Other High Score; Tanner Sandvig (5.33/10.33) in a semifinal win, Westley Young (6.00/9.07) in his finals score.