2008 NSSA State Championships

Surf: 2-3 feet and clean to the very last
Events Held: Middle School divisions; all Finals
Nature's Call: Perfect 4.0, for straight A (frames)
Predicted: Shorecliffs and UCSB will celebrate their victories…in slightly different ways

"I'm gonna give the full-on champagne shower, like they do at the big contests," cackled one grom, violently shaking his fifth can of No Fear energy drink.

Come podium time, no one got soaked – but it would have been a fitting end to an event that, in many ways, has come to resemble the upper echelons of the ASP. With computer scoring, live announcers and ample beach drama – not to mention the level of surfing itself – the NSSA contests these days are a model for top-tier competition. Located just a quick walk south of North America's only Dream Tour stop, the Interscholastic State Championships didn't disappoint. With high school, college and middle school divisions all wrapping on Sunday, the student surfers took to San Onofre's smooth walls like Mick, Taj and co. do every September.

One major difference between the pro contests and the NSSA is a policy in the latter of not announcing scores during the last five minutes of the finals. The uncertainty of who's on top as the heat winds down can frazzle the surfers in the water; no small number of competitors threw up their hands for updates in the final minutes, only to be frustrated by the tight-lipped judging tower. This left the various camps on the beach to go into speculation overdrive, analyzing the merits of each ride to try and determine who might have come out ahead. The result was a few nail-biters; highlights included:

-Ian Crane edging Carpinteria cartoon character Parker Coffin for victory in the Middle School Boys, largely on the strength of a clean air reverse through the inside racetrack. Yep, air reverse. Middle school. These little guys are unreal – and with more years left in the NSSA than adult teeth in their grills, the future looks a bit scary.

-Lauren Sweeney dominating the College Women's final. As a senior at UCSD, this is Sweeney's swan song in the NSSA – and she made it count, comboing all five other finalists en route to victory and giving herself an {{{80}}}% event-win rate on the season.

-Doug {{{Van}}} Mierlo earning top honors in High School Men in a photo finish over Kyle McGeary. McGeary, who nailed a heat-high 8.83 for an enormous air seven minutes in, couldn't find the backup he needed. Meanwhile, out of sync for the whole final, HB's Quinn McCrystal battered a pair of rights in the 9-point range AFTER the hooter, as parents turned to their heat footage and officials started to take down the scaffolding. Too bad.

Kyle McGeary

-The underage powerhouse that is Shorecliffs Middle School taking the team title with a 60-point cushion. When your B squad gets third, you know you're doing something right. The pizza party in San Clemente last night must have been one for the ages.

For all the high-impact performances and the drama of major competition, however, this might just as easily have been your usual Sunday at the beach. There were moms, dads, sisters; longboarders and shortboarders; boys and girls, old and young. The weather was fine and the waves were friendly. Winners thanked God for the ocean almost without exception – and, of course, the NSSA for putting on the event. With an extra hour of daylight thanks to the Spring time change, many stuck around to milk the last of a fading South before finally heading home to prepare Monday's assignments (this being a school night, after all). The teams will reconvene in June for the Nationals – but the championship series is just ramping up. Next week will see Granger Larsen, Coco Ho and the rest of the Hawaii contingent do battle at Kewalos, with the Easterns following closely after that. Look for continued coverage of kids half your age surfing better than you – or don't. We understand.

For more on the NSSA, please visit www.NSSA.org

MARCH 7-9, 2008

1. UCSB-A 124
2. SDSU-A 122
3. Saddleback 88
4. CSUSM-A 87
5. Mira Costa –Red 76
6. UCSD 61
7. Point Loma 59
8. USD 49
9. CSUSM-B 45
10. UCSB-B 41
11. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo-A 36
12. Mira Costa-White 31
=13. SDSU-B 25 / Cal Poly San Luis Obispo-B 25
15. Golden West 15

1. Jason McIlwee-Saddleback 15.00
2. Chris Smith-CSUSM 9.83
3. Matt Johnson-UCSB 9.66
4. Ryan Judson-SDSU 9.50
5. Charles McMahon-UCSB 9.17
6. Tyler Smith-SDSU 8.00

1. Lauren Sweeney-UCSD 15.50
2. Allie Brown-SDSU 9.33
3. Ericka Cook-Saddleback 8.50
4. Devon Holloway-USD 5.50
5. Michelle Reeves-Saddleback 5.17
6. Kristi Rife-Mira Costa 4.50

1. Troy Mothershead-Point Loma 16.67
2. Billy Harris-Mira Costa 14.00
3. Christian Clark-CSUSM 11.17
4. Chris Smith-CSUSM 10.17
5. Corey Hartwyk-UCSB 8.00
6. Wyatt Harrison-USD 7.33

1. Huntington Beach 108
2. Carlsbad 82
3. San Dieguito 72
4. San Clemente 69
5. Edison 68
6. Newport Harbor 66
7. Carpenteria 53
8. Mira Costa 50
9. Laguna Beach 44
10. Santa Barbara 27
11. Palos Verdes 16
12. Marina 14

1. Doug Van Mierlo-San Clemente 13.66
2. Kyle McGeary-Huntington Beach 13.33
3. Dominic DiPietro-Carlsbad 11.50
4. Kokoro Tomatsuri-Carpenteria 10.00
5. Quinn McCrystal-Huntington Beach 8.00
6. Vance Smith-Edison 7.66

1. Kaleigh Gilchrist-Newport Harbor 10.50
2. Taylor Pitz-Laguna Beach 10.17
3. Heather Jordan-Carlsbad 7.33
4. Alexa Dilley-San Dieguito 7.00
5. Sara Taylor-Huntington Beach 6.50
6. Rachel Harris-Carpenteria 6.00

1. Jeff Newell-Edison 10.34
2. Paul Smeltzer-Carlsbad 9.17 tiebreak
3. Brent Bowen-Mira Costa 9.17 tiebreak
4. Scott Brandenburg-San Clemente 8.00
5. Chris Cravey-San Dieguito 7.83
6. Wade Carden-Huntington Beach 7.00

1. Shorecliffs-Red 138
2. Sowers-A 77
3. Shorecliffs-White 61
4. Dwyer 60
5. Marco Forster 56
6. Carpenteria 32
7. Sowers-B 31
8. Niguel Hills-A 29
9. Shorecliffs-Blue 27
10. Niguel Hills-B 16

1. Ian Crane-Shorecliffs 13.00
2. Parker Coffin-Carpenteria 12.00
3. Josh Giddings-Shorecliffs 10.83
4. Breyden Taylor-Shorecliffs 7.50
5. Trevor Thornton-Shorecliffs 5.17
6. Wyatt Brady-Shorecliffs 3.59

1. Melina Smith-Shorecliffs 9.84
2. Lulu Erkeneff-Marco Forster 7.50
3. Paige Ortiz-Dwyer 5.17
4. Torrey Miethke-Sowers 4.50
5. Emmy Lombard-Shorecliffs 3.84
6. Danielle Wyman-Niquel Hills 2.50

1. Tony Bartovich-Dwyer 13.67
2. Zack Stapley-Shorecliffs 9.50
3. Scott Weinhardt-Marco Forster 9.34
4. Andy Nieblas-Shorecliffs 8.16
5. Mason Klink-Shorecliffs 6.67
6. Chandler Stirrat-Sowers 4.25