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Reilly Ready to Take His Last Ride as an Amateur Surfer

Although Mike Reilly is beginning to get used to the comparisons, the Seal Beach surfer still cringes when he’s touted as the next Kelly Slater. That’s not to say Reilly doesn’t appreciate the comparison. After all, what surfer wouldn’t want to be compared to the two-time world champion?

“I think about it once in a while,” Reilly said. “But I try not to buy into it. If people think I’m the next Kelly Slater, that’s OK, but I’m not going to worry about it.”

Reilly, 18, will represent Huntington Beach High in the National Scholastic Surfing Assn. championships starting Monday at Lower Trestles in San Clemente. This will be the last time Reilly will surf as an Oiler and an amateur.

After the nationals, Reilly said he’ll turn professional and make his pro debut at the AirTouch Pro Surfing Championships at Huntington Beach at the end of July.

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“I’ll give it a couple of years to see how I do, but I’m really looking forward to turning pro,” Reilly said. “It’s really exciting with all the traveling and stuff. If it doesn’t work out, I can always go to college.”

Though he lives in Seal Beach, Reilly calls Huntington Beach his home break. And along with Ryan Simmons, who Reilly said introduced him to surfing when he was in the fifth grade, he can be found most of the time surfing next to the pier.

“I just graduated from Huntington Beach, and that’s why I am really looking forward to the nationals,” Reilly said. “I’ve been competing in this competition since I was a freshman in high school and it’s really important to me that Huntington Beach has a good showing.”

Since the competition started 18 years ago, Huntington Beach has won the high school team championship 14 times.

“We have a real strong team,” Reilly said. “We have some really good surfers on the team, like Danny Nichols and Matt Shadbolt. We also have this sophomore, Ryan Turner, who’s really hot.”

Besides Huntington Beach, Reilly said the only other Orange County schools he expects to do well are San Clemente and Edison, but added that there are frequently teams that come out of nowhere to challenge.

In addition to the high school competition, Reilly hopes to win his third individual national championship in the men’s open division. In the last year, Reilly finished fifth in the Australian Pro Junior and took fifth at the Op ProAm in Huntington Beach.

Reilly said he expects competition from San Clemente’s Iain McPhillips, the 1996 Southwest men’s champion; Ben Bourgeois of North Carolina and Hawaiians Jason Bogle, Dayton Segundo and Bruce and Andy Irons.

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In addition to the high school competition and the men’s open division, the six-day championship also will include the junior open division (junior high), boys’ open division, mini-grom (10 and under) open division, women’s open division, and the national interscholastic and bodyboard open divisions. The championship finals start at 7 a.m. June 29.

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Janice Harrer’s best year on the WPVA tour was in 1990, when she won six tournaments and was selected the league’s top defensive player.

Much has changed off the court since then for Harrer, who attended Dana Hills High and UC Irvine. Harrer, formerly Janice Opalinski, married Thomas Harrer, moved to Honolulu and had a daughter, Hannah.

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But recently, Harrer has become reacquainted with the championship courts on the sand.

Harrer and her partner, Gayle Stammer, advanced to the final four at the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball trials at Baltimore June 9. The next weekend at Ocean City, Md., Harrer and Stammer became the first eighth-seeded team in Evian Tour history to reach a final, where they lost to Barbra Fontana Harris and Linda Hanley.

Harrer and Stammer defeated Adriana Rodrigues and Karina Silva of Brazil, 15-9, Thursday at Hermosa Beach in a qualifying tournament for the FIVB Bud Light World Beach Invitational to earn a spot in the main draw, which begins today.

Harrer has come a long way from the day in 1976 when she finally plucked the courage to try out for the volleyball team at Dana Hills. The next year, as a senior, she was selected the team’s most valuable player. Harrer played volleyball as a freshman at Saddleback College in 1978, but said the coach balked when she wanted to participate in cheerleading the next year, so she dropped volleyball.

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“I always dreamed of being a cheerleader,” Harrer said. “I had the time of my life.”

After transferring to UC Irvine, she found herself stuck in the back row as a junior in 1980 because of her height, 5 feet 7, and quit after one season.

“I was having a gas playing on the sand where you touch the ball every other time so I said, ‘Forget this,’ ” she said.

After graduating from UC Irvine in 1983 and earning her teaching credential in 1985, Harrer taught science and coached volleyball and track at Capistrano Valley High for the next four years while working her way up the ladder in the WPVA.

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In 1990, shortly after she moved to Honolulu to be with Thomas, Harrer got a call from Jackie Silva, the tour’s leading money-winner in 1989. Silva and Harrer paired and won five consecutive tournaments before splitting.

Although that was the most success Harrer has had on the court, she has since kept herself busy working as a field promotions manager for a food company and caring for Hannah, 2 1/2. At most tournaments, Thomas, a former AVP player, sits in the coaches’ box watching Janice play on a court and Hannah play in a cooler.

Harrer credits Christianity for her success.

“Basically, God created me and He gives me everything that I have,” she said.

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A glimpse of the future can be found at the Bud Surf Tour Body Glove competition at the Oceanside Pier.

The contest, which started Tuesday, includes both surfers who are on the verge of breaking into the World Qualifying Series and seasoned professionals who will be preparing for the AirTouch Pro Surfing Championships in late July.

San Clemente will be well represented in the competition with Chris Ward, Colin and Iain McPhillips, Jeff Moesa and Chris Drummy entered in the contest.

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Besides shortboarding, there will also be a women’s competition, longboarding and bodyboarding. The competition runs through Sunday.

On The Beach runs each week during the summer. Witherspoon and Hamilton can be reached at (714) 966-5904.


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