Surf Rips Into Another League Championship

RIDING+THE+WAVES%3A+Chris+Matthews+%2810%29+smacks+the+lip+with+a+pristine+snap+during+a+competition+at+the+Ritz+Carlton+in+Salt+Creek%2C+Laguna+Niguel.+Chris+Matthews+and+the+rest+of+the+San+Juan+Hills+High+School+surf+team+won+this+meet%2C+helping+them+win+a+league+title.+

Photo Courtesy of Brian Bengelsdorf

RIDING THE WAVES: Chris Matthews (10) smacks the lip with a pristine snap during a competition at the Ritz Carlton in Salt Creek, Laguna Niguel. Chris Matthews and the rest of the San Juan Hills High School surf team won this meet, helping them win a league title.

Ben Bartlett, Sports Editor

Finishing undefeated this season, the SJHHS Surf Team claimed the Capistrano Coast League Championships.

Senior captain Jake Carlson led the boys to their 6th championship. Other main contributors included junior Keegan Bengelsdorf on shortboard and brothers junior and freshman Max and Matt Chance on longboard.
For the boys, the league championship was decided in their competition against Aliso Niguel High School. With the competition being on Aliso’s home turf, the SJHHS boys were at a disadvantage.

“We had to work really hard because it was their home break. It wasn’t super big conditions; it was kind of tricky. They know the wave better than us. They surf it three times a week, so we had to go into it with as much knowledge and strategy as we could to be able to pull of a win like that. It was tough conditions but the team pulled through,” Carlson said.

In a surf contest, a lot of people think it’s an individual sport, but in a group league contest, you have to have every girl step up and give their A game to win a contest. So it’s fun seeing all the girls come together like that”

— Bella Mincer (12)

Senior captain Bella Mincer and freshman standout Lindsey Gattis led the girls team to their 4th league championship.

The deciding competition for the girls was against Tesoro High School. Communication and bonding was key for their success. Mincer gave a pep talk and prayed over the girls before getting in the water at each competition.

“In a surf contest, a lot of people think it’s an individual sport, but in a group league contest, you have to have every girl step up and give their A game to win a contest. So it’s fun seeing all the girls come together like that,” Mincer said.

Both Carlson and Mincer agreed that this season has been one of the best. On the girls team, many new people tried out, helping the team grow. For many on the boys team, this was their fourth year on the team, and that experience showed.

“I think this year really worked out because when I got on my freshman year, they had lost a bunch of really good seniors. Everyone was kind of scrambling. They didn’t really know what to do because they lost so many guys. So I think it’s kind of worked its way up and this has been the best year so far, I mean we went undefeated,” Carlson said.

The team now moved on to Individual League competition. The shortboard preliminary heats were all held at ‘Barbwire’ between Cottons and Uppers on November 13. Three of eight shortboarders advanced to the semi-finals; Bengelsdorf, freshman Jack Sanserverino, and junior Jack Parker.

All of the women advanced; Mincer, Gattis, and junior Kalin Myers. They will go straight to the finals.

Day 2 of individual competition is happening today at Salt Creek. Coach Nate Roberts explained that coaches confer and agree on a day, then contact the judges to arrive at the appointed time.

Men’s and women’s longboard and bodyboard semi-finals and finals are also today.