Skaters put on big show

ORANGE — It was already noisy inside the Vans Skatepark on Wednesday night, but heads really turned when multiple skateboards smacking against the ground were heard.

This was maybe a bit violent, but nothing negative.

"It's like kudos," Newport Harbor High junior-to-be Gage Boan explained.

It meant that skaters in the OC Skateboarding League semifinals and finals were cheering on another competitor during his run. Or her run, if it was Costa Mesa Middle School's Paige La Bare or Ensign Intermediate's Sarah Thompson performing the sick trick to try to impress the three judges.

Camaraderie was the name of the game. A couple hundred parents and fans lined the balcony atop the competition area, enjoying the action as the league finished its first full year.

Costa Mesa High, bolstered by a one-two finish by recent graduate Dominick Walker and senior-to-be Tyrine Mitchell, won the high school team title.

Solana Beach-based Earl Warren won the middle school team title.

The results Wednesday were just for the finals. The overall individual and team champions will be revealed at a year-ending awards ceremony, planned for July 21 at Los Caballeros in Fountain Valley.

"I'm psyched," Walker said. "I graduated, but leaving here with something is cool."

Walker, wearing a navy green T-shirt, had his white ear-bud headphones hanging out of his shirt. You can't get him away from the ramps; he kept skateboarding even as everyone else stopped when the awards were announced.

His first bowl run was very clean. Rick Franz, the coach for both Costa Mesa and Newport Harbor High, playfully slapped Walker in the back as he walked away from the ramp.

Walker's rival throughout the season has been Viola, who was second to Walker in the overall individual standings before Wednesday.

But the two are more than rivals; they're also friends. Viola came out on top in the high school bowl finals even though Walker nailed a crazy 360 flip to a "disaster" move just after his time was up in the second heat.

"That's hard to do, man," Franz said.

Boan was second in the high school bowl finals to Viola, and Walker was third.

"It's really intense, but everyone there is pushing each other," Boan said. "It's all good energy."

Walker has been a top skater all season, but Coach Franz said he was also extremely proud of Mitchell. He had skated at Vans a limited amount of times, but came through with what he said was his best showing of the season when it mattered most.

"He killed it," Walker said.

The top 25 street skaters and top 20 bowl skaters from the season were invited to the semifinals, which took place before the finals. They featured two 45-second runs. The top 10 in each semifinal event — in both middle school and high school events — advanced to the finals.

Thompson was third in the middle school bowl finals, earning a miniature skateboard trophy that each top-three rider received. Costa Mesa Middle School's Sammy Swanson was fifth in the competition.

Newport Harbor's Jon Pena was sixth in the high school street finals. Ensign student Eddie Cernicky was fifth in the middle school street finals.

Newport Harbor's Conner Tamblyn was ninth in the high school bowl finals.

At the awards ceremony next month, the skaters who earned the most skateboards smacking against the ground will be honored.

"This is what I love," league president and founder Katrina Foley said as she glanced at the skaters — all wearing different colored team T-shirts — cheering on another competitor. "All of these kids aren't even on his team."

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