Kayla Coscino of Laguna Beach is an up-and-coming junior surfer, by any definition of that phrase.
Coscino, 16, will be a senior at Laguna Beach High in the fall. She’s a member of the 2018 USA Surf Team.
But her skill hasn’t always translated to success on the Junior Women’s Tour. Coming into this week’s U.S. Open of Surfing, her best result has been ninth place in her three years on tour.
Surf City was a good place for Coscino to record the biggest result of her surfing career so far.
She advanced through three heats for the right to compete for the Junior Women’s Pro title on Saturday afternoon. And though she finished fourth in the final won by Zoe McDougall of Hawaii, Coscino couldn’t help but smile after getting the chance to compete in the final heat of the event.
Two other local surfers hope to do the same Sunday. Kanoa Igarashi of Huntington Beach, the defending men’s QS 10,000 event champion, moved to the quarterfinals of his home event by beating Michael February of South Africa, 14.33 to 12.33. Courtney Conlogue of Santa Ana, a Sage Hill School graduate, is in the Women’s Championship Tour event quarterfinals after she won a three-person Round 3 heat against Caroline Marks and Tatiana Weston-Webb, tallying a two-wave score of 13.90 – the best recorded in a women’s heat all day.
The women’s quarterfinals start Sunday at 7:30 a.m. on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier, followed by the men’s quarterfinals at 9:30. The semifinals for each gender are next, with the women’s final scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and the men’s final at 2:05 p.m.
Coscino broke through this week. In the Junior Women’s Pro final, she got to compete against her good friend Samantha Sibley of San Clemente, who placed third.
“It’s great to make a final at any of the junior tournaments, because everyone’s so good, but this is one is even better,” Coscino said. “The U.S. Open is the biggest surf contest ever … I was super-excited to be here. I kind of did all of the hard work the other day, so today was kind of more just have fun and enjoy the moment. Don’t be nervous, because it’s all fun.”
Coscino said she hopes to have a strong finish to the season. She has one year of eligibility left on the Junior Tour, and mentioned that making the Junior World Championships is a goal for next season.
“I’ve been working super-hard, and it hasn’t been going my way a lot of the time,” she said. “I was just really happy that all my hard work finally paid off.”
Things tend to go Igarashi’s way in his hometown. He will compete against Seth Moniz of Hawaii in the final heat of the quarterfinals Sunday. The first quarterfinal features two surfers from San Clemente, Kolohe Andino and Griffin Colapinto, and Igarashi said he would look forward to a possible all-Orange County final.
“I feel like I’ve done nowhere near the best surfing that I can,” Igarashi said. “I feel like I’m just going through the motions. I know I surfed better than [Friday in Saturday’s heat], and I know I surfed better than my Round 2 heat, and that’s all that matters. I’ll save my energy for [Sunday], the finals day, and give it my all … I want to save the best for last.”
So does Conlogue, the 2009 U.S. Open champion who also is in the last quarterfinal heat. She draws Lakey Peterson, a Santa Barbara native who is currently ranked No. 2 in the world.
“I’m feeling really good right now, just getting that momentum going,” said Conlogue, coming back from a recent foot injury. “It feels good to get a few wins under my belt. Everyone is super-warmed up and in tune, and I’m kind of just getting in that rhythm and just manufacturing heats right now and having fun.
“You have to become one with [the ocean]. It’s really tricky to do in these conditions, because you’re so in your head sometimes when you’re sitting. It’s just letting go.”
Barron Mamiya of Hawaii won the Junior Men’s final, with Cole Houshmand of San Clemente placing second and Kade Matson of San Clemente in fourth. Honolua Blomfeld of Hawaii captured the Women’s Duct Tape Invitational longboard title.