With the music of Soundgarden blaring from the loudspeaker on the sand, it was obvious this was no ordinary high school sporting event.
It’s surfing and Huntington Beach High, the West Coast’s perennial surfing school, won its 15th National Scholastic Surfing Assn. championship in 18 years Saturday at Lower Trestles.
Led by Mike Reilly, the Oilers actually clinched the high school title Tuesday with their powerful team advancing members through the various heats.
Huntington Beach finished with 117 points. Carlsbad was second with 92 points.
In the individual competition, Jeremy Sherwin of Encinitas San Dieguito won the boys’ title and Shelly Hayden of San Clemente won the girls’ title.
“It’s not like there wasn’t any competition at this event,” said Janice Aragon, NSSA executive director. “We had some fine teams from Carlsbad and San Clemente here. But Huntington Beach just has a very good team that takes its surfing very seriously. They are very impressive.”
Reilly, a recent Huntington Beach graduate, was instrumental in building the Oilers’ early lead in the six-day competition.
“I was surfing pretty good the first two days,” said Reilly, who failed to win his third consecutive men’s individual title. “I kind of had a bad day on Wednesday, but I picked up again going into the finals.”
Said Huntington Beach Coach Andy Verdone: “Each year this contest seems to get a bit harder. But we dedicated this [competition] to Justin Harcharic and that made the team work that much harder.”
Harcharic, a senior, was the Oilers’ No. 2 man. A car accident earlier this year kept him from competing in this event.
“He’s getting better and he’ll be back in the water very soon,” Verdone said. “But it was important that we won this as a team.”
Another priority for Reilly was the high school individual title.
Reilly went into the championship heat Saturday evening seeking his third national individual high school title.
However, Reilly was facing friend Iain McPhillips of San Clemente.
“Iain has been surfing really good at this competition,” Reilly said before the heat. “He wants it just as bad as I do.”
Reilly started with a bang, catching a nice left and performing a floater with some cut-backs. But after that wave, Reilly was unable to catch anything decent.
McPhillips was second behind Sherwin and Jessie Evans of Edison finished third. Reilly was fourth, followed by freshman Branden Tipton and Matt Shandbolt, both of Huntington Beach.
In the women’s open division, which included surfers of high school age and up, Jessica Wade of La Jolla was the runner-up.
Liz Bunch, a resident of Maui, was third and Kristine Webster of Del Mar Torrey Pines High was fourth. Alison Arvizu of Huntington Beach High was fifth and Nicole Cousimamo of Laguna Beach High finished sixth.