By A. Puha
After a recording their best ever season, the CSUSM Surf Team stumbled at the NSSA Interscholastic State Championships this past weekend.
Two teams who had not beaten CSUSM yet this season, SDSU and Saddleback, took full advantage. The event was held this past weekend at Churches Beach in San Onofre, where 15 teams lined up to compete for the state title. On Friday, college contestants were greeted with a fun, early season south swell, and great conditions led to great surfing. But, the Cal State San Marcos A team seemed unprepared to capitalize. Junior Aaron Coyle’s round one mistake of standing up after his heat cost him a transfer spot. Of their remaining five shortboard men, only Junior Chris Smith and Freshman Garrett James managed to continue beyond round two. At that point, these two made a decision, a decision to carry the team on their backs and claim a place on the podium. James shredded his way into the semifinals, redeeming himself after an early exit at Huntington Beach. Smith capped off an outstanding season by advancing into both the shortboard men’s final and the longboard final. The A team left the beach on Friday in 3rd place, 3 points ahead of Saddleback, but well behind the championship contenders, SDSU and UCSB.
The Cal State San Marcos B team was strong throughout the event. Freshman Christian Clark has been the anchor all season long. He joined forces with newcomer Sean Murphy. After rejuvenating his contest surfing mental game, Murphy handily advanced into the semifinals to become the top point getter for the CSUSM B Team. Clark, who finished regular season as the number one rated college longboarder on the west coast, came to the state championships with purpose. But in the longboard final it was Troy Mothershead of Point Loma Nazarene who would quickly combo the entire field. In that final, both Clark and Smith played the game of patience, each waiting for a good wave and a chance to improve their standing. As the final progressed, they gradually climbed from the back of the pack finishing 3rd and 4th respectively. Clark and Murphy led the B team to a 9th place finish, demolishing many A teams.
Smith still had the shortboard men’s final to look forward to, and only 20 minutes to prepare and rest. At the start of the heat, he jumped out to a strong start with a solid lefthander. Smith gouged and gaffed that wave, moving more water than anyone would all heat. But Saddleback’s Jason McEllwee, was prepared to defend his title. He also started quick on a beautiful righthander with a solid vertical snap, and a slightly better score than Smith. Smith waited patiently for a solid second wave. McEllwee sat to the south and grabbed several good righthanders, efficiently comboing all of the other competitors, except Smith. Down the stretch Smith finally grabbed a solid left and executed two powerful snaps, but wasn¹t able to make the final section to finish the wave cleanly and surpass McEllwee. With this, he secured a second place finish.
Smith’s second and fourth place finishes weren’t enough to stave off the Saddleback attack. Saddleback qualified not only McEllwee for the finals, but also qualified two shortboard women, who earned 3rd and 5th place finishes thereby earning just enough points to surpass CSUSM by one. Final results were 1st UCSB with 124, 2nd SDSU with 122, 3rd Saddleback with 88, 4th CSUSM with 87, 5th Mira Costa with 76, and 6th UCSD with 61.
The next event for the CSUSM Surf Team is the Interscholastic National Championships, June 18-21, in Dana Point at Salt Creek Beach.