2.7 The NSSA Nationals keep raising the ante for young talent.

Better And Better
The NSSA Nationals keep raising the ante for young talent.
by Aaron Checkwood

Some things never fail¿take the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) Nationals and its reputation for good waves and great talent. This year’s contest, held at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California June 27 through July 1, was no exception. Whether it was the incredibly good waves, or the stacked heats, there couldn’t be a better finale for the nation’s top amateur organization.

There are two seasons in three regions for the nationals¿the Explorer season for non-students, and the Open season for students on the East Coast, West Coast, and Hawai’i. Competitors entering both must qualify through a regular series season and a regional final culminating in the Nationals.Even though the NSSA prides itself on promoting school before surf, the organization’s talent level just keeps getting deeper and deeper. Watching heats like a Juniors’ final with future stars like Travis Mellem and Dustin Cuizon makes you wonder just how good the kids can get.

“It’s just unbelievable, from one year to the next,” says NSSA Executive Director Janice Aragon. “Every year I keep saying that, but watching the Open Men’s and the Open Juniors’, it’s at the highest level I’ve ever seen it. In the Explorer Boys’ and Open Juniors’ divisions, Dustin Cuizon, is already looking like a pro. His mechanics and technique¿watching him has blown my mind. He’s at the step before being a professional.”

Another talented surfer on his way to a professional career is Anthony Petruso. After an incredibly successful NSSA career where he won six Western Region season titles, he had yet to win a National title. Petruso made both the Open Men’s and Explorer Juniors’ finals only to suffer through the wave-starved junior final dominated by Sean Moody. The men’s final, the last heat of his NSSA career, became his greatest when he dominated the heat for his one and only Nationals title¿good job, Anthony.

You can’t forget the ladies, either. Hawai’ians Kristen Quizon and Melanie Bartels, winners of the Open and Explorer Titles respectively, were surfing with super-clean style and smooth turns. Mid-contest, the announcer pronounced Bartels as one of the top women surfers in the world and I couldn’t agree more.

As for the waves, the organization moved the contest to Lowers in 1992 where’s there’s been all kinds of conditions. However, this year the NSSA scored again and Lowers was showing its game face with competitors taking advantage of the overhead sets (double overhead for the mini-groms). “The power of prayer is incredible,” says Aragon. “We run contests every weekend and I try not to be too selfish. I pray for two contests: The Eastern Regional Championships, because Florida Sebastian Inlet can go real flat, and then the Nationals. It’s been spectacular; we get great surf for this contest every year. Lowers is such a perfect wave and it’s so contestable¿it’s the best place to crown NSSA champions.” Congratulations go to all the finalists¿here are the results:

Open Men’s
1. Anthony Petruso
2. Joel Centeio
3. Ian Walsh
4. Max Hoshino
5. Micah Byrne
6. John Robertson

Open Juniors’
1. Travis Mellem
2. Tom Dosland
3. Kekoa Bacalso
4. Nathan Carroll
5. Andrew Gahan
6. Justin Jones

Open Boys’
1. Killian Garland
2. Chris Waring
3. Jimmy McKinney
4. Tanner Gudauskas
5. Chad Compton
6. Adam Wickwire

Open Mini-Groms’
1. Thomas Clarke
2. Tonino Benson
3. Clay Marzo
4. Kekoa Cazimero
5. Chas Chidester
6. Peyton Chidester

Open Womens’
1. Kristen Quizon
2. Melanie Bartels
3. Holly Beck
4. Jamie DeWitt
5. Loryn Wilson
6. Theresa McGregor

Explorer Mens’
1. Matt Keeenan
2. Bart Templeman
3. Austin Ware
4. Matt Gilligan
5. Kuilee Murphy
6. Sean Louden

Explorer Juniors’
1. Seann Moody
2. Joel Centeio
3. Anthony Petruso
4. Tim Reyes
5. Che Stang
6. Matt King

Explorer Boys’
1. Nathan Carroll
2. Dustin Cuizon
3. Kekoa Bacalso
4. T.J. Barron
5. Travis Mellem
6. Alek Parker

Explorer Menehunes’
1. Adam Wickwire
2. Tanner Gudauskas
3. Killian Garland
4. Jimmy McKinney
5. Kai Ellison
6. Jensen Hassett

Explorer Masters’
1. Mike Latronic
2. Joe McNulty
3. Jimmy Kress
4. Greg Browning
5. Chas Wickwire
6. Chad Wells

Explorer Women’s
1. Melanie Bartels
2. Loryn Wilson
3. Kristen Quizon
4. Holly Beck
5. Jamie DeWitt
6. Abby Haney

College Men
1. Austin Ware-MiraCosta A
2. Bart Templeman-UCSB Victor
3. Sam Baugh-MiraCosta A
4. Jex McCartney-San Diego State
5. Geoff Daley-University of San Diego
6. Sean Walker-UCSB Victor

College Women
1. Kyla Langen-MiraCosta
2. Holly Beck-UCSD
3. Nicole DeLeon-UCSB Victor
4. Kenlyn Terai-San Diego State
5. Liz Clarke-UCSB Vector
6. Nicole Cousinmano-UCSB Gaucho

High School Men
1. Joel Centeio-Campbell
2. Che Stang-Carlsbad
3. Nathan Yeomans-San Clemente
4. Timmy Reyes-Edison
5. Greg Long-San Clemente
6. Kuilee Murphy-Kahuku

High School Women
1. Julia Christian-Carlsbad
2. Jessica Oswald-Kahuku
3. Rachel Spear-Kalaheo
4. Shelly Appleby-San Clemente
5. Natalee Trefren-San Dieguito
6. Alisa Steigmar-Half Moon Bay

Middle School Boys
1. Patrick Gudauskas-Shorecliffs
2. Dane Gudauskas-Shorecliffs
3. Raymond Reichle-Kahuku
4. Tanner Gudauskas-Shorecliffs
5. Chase Newsome-Dwyer
6. Shane Steelman-Sowers

Middle School Girls
1. Anastasia Ashley-Kahuku
2. Ashley Pardoen-Shorecliffs
3. Michaela Miller-Sowers
4. Erin Roberts-Dwyer

College Team National Champs-MiraCosta A
High School National Champs-San Clemente High School
Middle School National Champs-Shorecliffs