Sebastian Delivers For The NSSA East Coast Championships

The 2008 NSSA East Coast Championships came to center stage at Sebastian Inlet March 27-30. The annual championship event showcased over 400 competitors in four separate categories-the NSSA Open Championships, the NSSA Explorer Championships, the NSSA Airshow Championships and the NSSA Collegiate Championships. The East Coast Championships serves as one of four Regional qualifiers for the 2008 National Championships to be held June 18-28 at Salt Creek and Lower Trestles.

SEBASTIAN DELIVERS AGAIN
The special tradition of the NSSA East Coast Championships continued on for another glorious year. Good surf and warm, sunny weather and a highly competitive atmosphere set up four great days of exciting and heated competition for the top east coast amateurs. A consistent combination of ground and wind swell combined for fun contestable waist to shoulder high waves throughout the event.

EAST COAST CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP
Every championship has its breakout star and this one was no different. Michael Dunphy had a dream run at the 2008 East Coast Championships. The 17-year-old Virginia Beach native turned in a monster performance at the Inlet with a three division sweep in Open Men’s, Explorer Men’s and Explorer Juniors. On day one, Dunphy started his roll with a win in his first Explorer Men’s heat and things started clicking fast. By day four, he was in sizzling form advancing to three heavily competitive finals. He handily took the Explorer Juniors final with a 14.67-11.83 over runner up Nick Rupp. The Explorer Men’s was closer where he squeezed out the victory by a point and a half over Northeast standout Balaram Stack. With two wins in the bank, Dunphy was primed for the Open Men’s showdown with Rupp, Evan Geiselman and Liam Michelbrink making up the elite final four. But Dunphy was in dominating form and immediately went to work laying down a vertical attack for a good 6.17 score. Minutes later, he took it up a notch cutting loose on a 7.67 ride which left his opponents rattled. Michelbrink, Geiselman and Rupp fought hard to stay in the mix but Dunphy was unstoppable. “I was trying to get a wave early and keep plugging away at it,” said Dunphy, “because Evan can drop nines like nothing.” Asked about his domineering display in the championships he added, “I’ve been more relaxed in heats-not trying to get to amped, just cruise and freesurf. I’ve changed boards, I got some boards from Yinger and they’ve been working really well. I feel like I’m surfing a lot better on them.” The feat at Sebastian has definitely confirmed Dunphy’s status as a National title contender however he remains cautiously optimistic about his Nationals expectations. “The wins here are good but I can’t get too far ahead of myself. The Nationals is really tough but hopefully the wins here will pay off.”

14-year-old Jassett Umbel is leading a changing of the guard in the Women’s divisions. The Melbourne Beach resident surfs the Inlet regularly and it showed as she delivered a convincing display of solid surfing throughout the championship event finishing with victories in the elite Open Women’s division and the Explorer Girls. The Open final matched up Umbel with sisters Ariel and Alexis Engstrom and Jennifer Morris. Earlier in the comp, Ariel Engstrom and Morris delivered a one-two pounding in the Women’s semis upsetting last year’s champion Quincy Davis and east coast standout Amy Nicholl. In the final, Umbel got right down to business opening up with a good 6.83 score-the highest wave of the final. While the other struggled to find open face, Umbel continued to find the little wedges winning the final by a 4-point margin. “This feels awesome,” Umbel said after her impressive accomplishment. “I was just trying to catch a wave right off the bat, so I could get a score up on the board and then just take it from there. Sebastian is my home break so I’ve been practicing here a lot and trying to work on my maneuvers. Umbel’s triumph willove her into the east coast’s No. 1 seed position at the Nationals. “I want to win the Nationals one day but it’s so hard. I’m just looking forward to going there and trying my best.”

It was history in the making again as Evan Geiselman delivered a powerhouse performance shattering his own record of nine and adding three more victories to his list. The 14-year-old east coast phenom is now the owner of 12 Regional titles with back-to-back triumphs in the Open Juniors and Explorer Boys plus the Airshow. The Juniors final matchup reunited Geiselman with Rupp, Evan Thompson and Hector Santa Maria who all made the final last year. Rupp and Santa Maria struggled to find their rhythm which left Geiselman and Thompson battling fiercely for the win. Thompson opened up with two solid scores of 5.17 and 6.33 and controlled the tempo for the first half of the heat. Geiselman remained calm and cool using his heat smarts by waiting patiently for the good ones in the 25-minute final. Midway through the heat he fired up locking back-to-back scores of 6.67 and 4.83 which put him on top. In the final minute he stamped his authority linking up a solid 7.33 ride to the sand-the highest single wave score of the final. “I just had fun out there and tried to surf every wave the best I could,” said Geiselman who has compiled six consecutive winning years at the Regionals. “There were a lot of close-outs but there were some good ones coming in too. The final was 25 minutes so I knew I had time to be selective and pick off the good ones.” Geiselman’s milestone performance at the Inlet spoke volumes and should give him confidence for a strong Nationals run. “I’m just thankful we had waves for this contest. It can be hit or miss here but it was definitely fun conditions. I’m happy to win and hopefully it will carry through to the Nationals.”

In a magnificent repeat of the 2007 East Coast Championships, Cam Richards delivered an outstanding performance successfully defending his titles in the Open Boys and Explorer Menehuene divisions. The 12-year-old from South Carolina set the pace in the Menehuene final with a blistering 9.17 ride. He instantly backed it up with another solid 7.67 score ruling the final with a 16.84 total-the highest combined score of the 2008 East Coast Championship finals. Richards continued his winning form in the Open Boys final racking up scores of 6.67 and 5.5. “It was fun,” Richards said. “I just waited for the good lined up waves and not take off on close-outs.” Richards now owns four East Coast titles and is aiming straight towards Geiselman’s record. “It feels good to win again,” Richards said of his back-to-back achievement. “I’m trying to win more here every year because I’m going for the record!”

COLLEGIATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
After taking a one year hiatus from championship competition, Flagler College came storming back to take their first ever title. Led by 9-time East Coast Champion Eric Taylor, the Saints scored a 97-86 victory over UCF. In a flashback to the past, Taylor looked like the same kid that dominated the NSSA East Coast champs in his amateur years scorching the College Men’s final and wrapping up his ninth Regional title. Besides Taylor, Flagler’s only other finalist was Ben McLeod but his runner-up finish added enough firepower for the Saints to claim the victory. UCF senior Lauren McLean captured her third collegiate women’s title. McLean’s teammates Chad Bagwell and Ashley Francis also made the finals for UCF and all three were big factors in the Knights runner-up showing. Todd Kinsey took his second collegiate longboard crown for the Florida Gators.

PERFECT 10
Northeast Conference competitor Michael Ciaramella was the sole surfer to knock off a perfect 10 in the championships and it came on opening day. In his Explorer Boys round one heat, Ciaramella blew up on a chest high right hand wedge and connected the dots all the way to the sand. “I saw a wave coming through that had some push to it,” Ciaramella said. “I dropped in and did a good turn off the top and then did as many turns as I could to the beach. It was my first “10” in a big contest like this. I had a big smile on my face coming in from the heat.”

QUADRUPLE DUTY (four finals appearances!)
1-Evan Geiselman: Open Mens, Open Juniors, Explorer Boys, Airshow
2-Weston Williams: Open Boys, Open Longboard, Explorer Menehuene, Explorer Longboard

TRIPLE DUTY (three finals appearances!)
1-Michael Dunphy: Open Mens, Explorer Mens, Explorer Juniors2-Liam Michelbrink: Open Mens, Explorer Mens, Explorer Juniors3-Nick Rupp: Open Mens, Open Juniors, Explorer Juniors4-Noah Schweizer: Open Boys, Explorer Boys, Explorer Menehuene5-Jassett Umbel: Open Womens, Explorer Womens, Explorer Girls

2008 NSSA CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: The NSSA East Coast Championships presented by No Fear is the third of seven events in the 2008 NSSA Championship Series. The 2008 Championship Series events include the Interscholastic State Championships at Church, March 7-9; the Hawaii Championships at Kewalo Basin, HI March 15-20; the East Coast Championships at Sebastian Inlet, FL March 27-30; the NSSA Jr. Championships at Huntington Beach Pier, CA April 5; the West Coast Championships at Huntington Beach Pier, CA May 14-18; the NSSA National Championships at Salt Creek and Lower Trestles, CA June 18-28; the Northeast High School Championships at Ocean City, NJ October 19.For the full results from the weekend and to see whose heading to Nationals from the right coast, check out NSSA.org

ough that had some push to it,” Ciaramella said. “I dropped in and did a good turn off the top and then did as many turns as I could to the beach. It was my first “10” in a big contest like this. I had a big smile on my face coming in from the heat.”

QUADRUPLE DUTY (four finals appearances!)
1-Evan Geiselman: Open Mens, Open Juniors, Explorer Boys, Airshow
2-Weston Williams: Open Boys, Open Longboard, Explorer Menehuene, Explorer Longboard

TRIPLE DUTY (three finals appearances!)
1-Michael Dunphy: Open Mens, Explorer Mens, Explorer Juniors2-Liam Michelbrink: Open Mens, Explorer Mens, Explorer Juniors3-Nick Rupp: Open Mens, Open Juniors, Explorer Juniors4-Noah Schweizer: Open Boys, Explorer Boys, Explorer Menehuene5-Jassett Umbel: Open Womens, Explorer Womens, Explorer Girls

2008 NSSA CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: The NSSA East Coast Championships presented by No Fear is the third of seven events in the 2008 NSSA Championship Series. The 2008 Championship Series events include the Interscholastic State Championships at Church, March 7-9; the Hawaii Championships at Kewalo Basin, HI March 15-20; the East Coast Championships at Sebastian Inlet, FL March 27-30; the NSSA Jr. Championships at Huntington Beach Pier, CA April 5; the West Coast Championships at Huntington Beach Pier, CA May 14-18; the NSSA National Championships at Salt Creek and Lower Trestles, CA June 18-28; the Northeast High School Championships at Ocean City, NJ October 19.For the full results from the weekend and to see whose heading to Nationals from the right coast, check out NSSA.org