Kolohe Andino grew up as just one of the thousands of spectators on the shore of Huntington Beach gazing at the heroes of the U.S. Open of Surfing.
But at 19, Andino enters Sunday as one of the favorites to be carried through the crowd with a U.S. Open title.
Kolohe translates into "troublemaker" in Hawaiian, which is exactly what he'll try to be in a sport defined by its legends, including San Clemente surfing icon Dino Andino, who just happens to be his father.
"I've surfed here a lot growing up through the amateur ranks, and I would come up here pretty much every weekend as a kid," Andino said. "I grew up with these kind of waves. I'm from just down the street so I'm comfortable here."
Rather than live in the shadow of the legends around him, the teenager is creating his own legend, making it to the final day of the U.S. Open for the second time in his young career after making the semifinals in 2011. And why not steal the spotlight after 11-time world champion Kelly Slater and world No. 1 Julian Wilson vacated it? They failed to qualify for the final day, which includes the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals all within five hours.
In fact, Andino took on Wilson twice in three days and lived to surf another day.
After the turmoil of the first five rounds, Andino remains the only Southern Californian left in a quarterfinals that is stacked with four surfers ranked in the top 10. But the No. 17-ranked pro is looking to go from local boy to hometown hero a la Brett Simpson, the Huntington Beach native who won in 2009 and 2010.
"I've always dreamed of being at the end of this event," Andino said. "In 2011, I made the semifinals, and it was almost like a dream coming true. Definitely there's something special to it."
Andino and his fellow Red Bull poster child Jordy Smith are the only two remaining surfers to have won every heat of the tournament. The two friends are on opposite ends of the bracket, meaning a showdown in Sunday's 1:15 p.m. finals is starting to look more like a possibility than a pipeline dream.
"He's an incredible surfer, and he's had some really good heats," Smith said of Andino. "It just looks like he's been building a lot of momentum. I'm really hoping we can meet in the final."
The 25-year-old Smith, who was victim to one of Simpson's legendary title runs, said he hopes to use his finals experience from 2010 to claim the $100,000 prize.
"You've just got to stay hydrated, maintain your focus and make sure you're amped," the No. 2-ranked surfer said. "I'd love to get it this time."
Andino, meanwhile, is just along for a ride that's been all but smooth as a hero among his heroes.
"Even if I just make the final I'd be stoked," Andino said with a laugh.