With the ultimate goal of being invited to the USA Prime events in 2023-24 season, the surfers that make up the National Scholastic Surfing Association met up last week in the NSSA Western Regional Championships.
Participation was based on all surfers that surfed 50% of the scheduled events this season. The Western Regionals and National Championships (held in June) are mandatory for inclusion into the prime series with the top surfers at years end receiving the coveted USA Prime slots that are open.
With hopes at the highest and a swell bigger than has been seen as of late at the Huntington Beach Pier, the regionals took center stage for kids from the age of 8 to 17 to try and add points to their season long total.
Let's go to the pier at Huntington Beach and crown the champions.
Champion Kai Kushner
Kai Kushner followed up last year's 2 explorer titles with a win in the Open Men's.
Trailing late in the heat, he dropped a 9.27 to snatch victory away from runner up Lucas Cassity.
Kushner's heat total of 15.94 was 1.18 better than Cassidy's 14.76.
Gavin Lusby was third with a 10.17 and Alberto Barzan finished 4th with an 8.93.
Kushner was the 15th rated surfer in the division this season based on the five events he did and this was his first win of the season.
Champion Sara Freyre
The reigning national champion took home the title with a winning heat total of 17.00.
Her finals heat featured rides of 8.67 and 8.33.
Northern California surfers Zoe Chait and Maddie Storrer finished second and third respectively with a 12.00 and 11.94 heat scores.
Ava Wagester was 4th with a solid 11.33.
It was the 5th title on the season for the top ranked Freyre.
Champion Lucas Cassity
After finishing second in the men's open, Cassidy came back to take the crown in the U16 juniors.
The 14-year-old took control of the heat late, with an 8.33 for a 15.33 heat total.
Runner-up Hans Odriozola made a late run with an 8.07 final wave score at the buzzer but fell just short with a 13.90 total.
Finishing third was Dane Libby with an 8.00 and 4th was Laird Lavik coming in at 7.23.
Cassity came in second ranked on the season in both Open Men's and Open Juniors with two titles in each division.
Champion Hana Bakker
Hana Bakker and Reid VanWagoner put up a spirited battle for the lead, but in the end, it was Bakkar's 8.17 and 6.03 giving her a 14.20 total, beating VanWagoner by 0.13.
VanWagoner had an 8.37 in a 13.90 heat total for second. Third was Northwest surfer Olivia Storrer with 11.80 and coming in 4th was Victoria Duprat, who had a 10.33.
It was Bakker's first win of the season.
Champion Makai Castle
Makai Castle won the first of his two titles on the day, by ripping back-to-back wave scores of 7.83 and 7.50 to win the heat with a 15.33 total.
Jett Maughan got hot late in the heat with a 6.77 and a 6.10 but his 12.87 total was good enough only for second place.
Jaime Veselko, who had a high of 6.83 was third with 11.33 and Tanner Sandvig finished fourth with 11.04.
It was Castle's second win on the season as he came in ranked number 4 on the season.
Open Super Girls
Champion Zoey Kaina
Zoey Kaina took control of the heat early with an 8.33 and an 8.17 and easily turned away her three competitors with a 16.50 heat total.
Huntington Beach surfer Bailey Turner was second with a high of 6.67 in a 12.60 heat, 3rd went to Marlo Leigh Harris, who's 5.83 helped in her 11.00 heat total.
Kaydn Persidok finished fourth with a 10.50 heat score.
It was Kaina's third win of the season.
Open Mini Groms
Champion Finn Castle
Huntington Beach surfer Finn Castle won the first of his two titles on the day when he dropped the 7.83 and a 7.20 in his winning 15.03 heat score.
Close behind was Cruz Freyre, who was surfing up a division. He dropped a 7.50 in a 13.70 heat score.
Maddox Keet finished third with a 10.76 score and fourth was Luciano Locatelli with a 10.00.
It was the second win of the season for Castle in the division.
Open Mini Grom Girls
Champion Ruby Stringfellow
Top-seed Ruby Stringfellow surfed just three waves in the final, but all three were over eight and her high two of 8.67 and 8.50 gave her a 17.17 total and a very easy win.
Finishing second was Peter Kenworthy who had a nice 6.83 score in an 11.40 heat total. Rounding out the finals was third place Zoe Panettieri and fourth was Samaira Lizzy.
It was Stringfellow's fourth win this season.
Open u10 Boys
Champion Cruz Freyre
After finishing second in a higher division, Cruz Freyre came right back to win the U10 boys with a 15.90 heat total which featured a high wave score of 8.17.
He backed that up with a 7.73 to finish out his four scoring waves.
Brett Gregorius rallied late for a second-place finish, featuring a 6.17 wave in a 10.77 heat score. Jack Keet got just two waves surfed, but a 4.40 score helped his 7.07 third place total and Cash Jonez-Schillmoeller finished fourth with a 5.10 heat score.
It was the 7th win on the year for Freyre.
Champion Titus Santucci
Titus Santucci started out slow but finished hot in his Explorer Men's final dropping a scores of 8.10 and 8.00 in his last four waves, rolling to a 16.10 heat total and the championship.
Second-place finisher Ethan Hollander made the most of his nine waves, mainly with the last two, when he got his best scores of 7.60 and 6.37.
Luke Rebensdorf was third with a 12.00 heat score and Cameron Youngsma finished 4th at 6.10.
It was Santucci's first explorer win to go along with his two Open Men's titles.
Champion Maddie Storrer
In just a two-lady final, Maddie Storrer continued her hot surfing from the week before, when she dropped scores of 7.83 and 5.83 for a heat winning 13.66.
Storrer won a USA Prime title the week before in San Clemente.
Runner up was Maddie Stanton, who had a high of 5.17 in her 9.50 heat total.
Storrer has 4 Northwest titles this year in Open Women's.
Champion Milo Faure
The quickly improving Milo Faure dropped the highest score of the heat, an 8.43, on his final wave to take the title of Explorer Juniors with a 15.93 total.
The brother tandem of Jonas and Jackson Meskis took turns with the lead earlier in the heat, but Faure dropped a 7.50 to flip the heat and then closed it out with his best score.
Jonas finished second at 12.70 while his brother Jackson took third with a 9.93.
Brody Price the fourth-place finisher with an 8.40 heat total.
It was Faure's first title win.
Champion Olivia Storrer
Just like her sister Maddie, Olivia Storrer also won back-to-back weeks. After taking her prime title a week ago, she came back and won the Explorer girls with a 9.50 heat total just finishing ahead of Brynley Beckman by 1.10.
The waves were tough, and the scores were low, but Storrer dropped a 5.00 which was the best of the Heat.
Beckman had an 8.40 total for second followed by Maddie Stanton who was third and London Meza fourth.
Storrer had two straight wins in the Northwest division
Explorer Super Girls
Champion Teagan Meza
In one of the closest events of the day, Meza won her first title of two on the day, as she slipped by Zoe Panettieri by a score of 11.10 to Panettiere's 11.03.
It all came down to Meza's last ride, a 6.60, which not only was the highest in the heat, but turned the event as she went to the lead.
Panettiere had a high single score of 6.00 while third-place finisher Peeta Kenworthy had an 8.16 heat total and Riviera Hunter finished fourth with a 6.30 heat total.
It was Meza's 4th title of the year in the division
Champion Makai Castle
Makai Castle went two-for-two on the day after earlier winning an open title, came back to win the Explorer Boys with a 14.43 heat total that featured wave rides of 7.43 and 7.00.
Castle took the lead midway through the heat and held on despite a late 5.87 by Kai Wolsbeck who finished second with 11.20.
Rounding out the final four were Alberto Barzan and Loyal Kenworthy.
It was Castle's 3rd win of the season in the division.
Champion Finn Castle
In another close heat, the younger Castle won his second event of the day, as he dropped an 8.00 on his third and final wave to hold off a determined Brody Buck, who had the lead early and finished second with a 12.16.
Kai Thompson was close behind with 11.87 in third and Tanner Sandvig added to the competitive heat with an 11.83 final, goof for fourth place.
It was Castle's 4th win of the season in the division
Explorer Super Groms
Champion Teagan Meza
In the closing event of the week, Teagan Meza one for the second time on the day, saving her best heat for last as she dropped scores of 8.60 and 7.67 for a huge 16.27 heat total and the title of Super Grom.
Close behind was Dane Gregorius who put up a 6.83 wave in a 12.50 heat score. Rounding out the top four were Henry Goldstein with a 4.90 and Eli Sobel with a 4.23
It was her 3rd title of the season in the division
The season finale for the NSSA will be the National Championships June 26th thru July 3rd at Huntington Beach, Ca.