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NSSA makes history with new contest format

NSSA makes history with new contest format
Open Mens Semifinalists Photo: Aragon



Southwest Open Season Event #1

Oceanside Harbor, Oceanside California USA
20 - 21 September, 2014 

NSSA surfers make history and push the envelope of competitive surfing

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 24 September, 2014 - The Southwest Conference Open Season launched the first event of the 2014-15 season September 20-21 at the south jetty in Oceanside. Without fail, the south jetty delivered fun chest to head-high surf throughout the entire two-day event setting the stage for the elite season opener as student surfers battled to get a solid head start in the season rankings. Without a doubt, the kids showed up on opening weekend pushing the performance envelope as we witnessed the talent level soaring to new heights.

History was made as NSSA Open Season competition soared to the next level when the first ever man-on-man competition format was implemented in the Mens division in a vital effort to better prepare our surfers for the professional ranks. The man-on-man competitive structure was utilized in the Men's semis and finals. Nolan Rapoza, Griffin Colapinto, Cole Houshmand and Ryland Rubens were the first surfers to make the Mens semifinals in this historical and innovative, exciting format. The Southwest Conference Open Season is regarded as the leading competition for west coast surfers. Divisions are offered in Mens, Juniors, Boys, Mini Groms, Womens and Girls. This event was the first of 10 events in the Southwest Conference Open Season series. The NSSA Open Season is open to student surfers only.  

Cole Houshmand © Steinmetz


Highlights from Southwest Conference Open Season opening weekend:

The newly utilized man-on-man format saw 16 year-old Nolan Rapoza match up with 14 year-old Ryland Rubens in semi one and a San Clemente head-to-head battle with 16 year-old Griffin Colapinto and 13 year-old Cole Houshmand. The older surfers prevailed as Rapoza was successful over Rubens and the current National Open Juniors Champion Colapinto prevailing over Houshmand.

Rapoza, who enjoyed a stellar run at the West Coast Regionals and just missed a National title in the Open Juniors division to Colapinto, was not to be denied this time. The Long Beach ripper who calls Huntington Beach his local surf spot was in relentless pursuit of a victory. He found his rhythm quickly dismantling his second and third waves of the heat which came in at a 7.83 and a 9.53. In the early goings of the heat, San Clemente‚s mega-talented Colapinto was playing catchup and struggled to find the good open faced set waves in the man-on-man clash. Rapoza triumphed while also making the NSSA history books becoming the first winner in the newly established man-on-man format. Rapoza‚s 17.36 two-wave combined heat total turned out to be the highest heat score of the event. 

With the razor sharp skills put forth by both Open Men‚s younger semifinalists Houshmand and Rubens, it would be clear they would make their way to the Open Juniors final. Joining them would be Tyler Gunter and Gunner Day in the hotly contested clash of young high level surfing. Gunter was on point the entire event and took and early lead in the 25-minute final. Gunter held that lead until the final minute when Houshmand paddled into a bomb and went ballistic on a spectacular, clutch 9.33 buzzer beater. This was enough to move him into first over Gunter and seal a huge Open Juniors win to open up his 2014/15 campaign.

2014 Conference Open Womens Champion Tia Blanco was successful in her first contest back in defense of her title taking the Open Womens win in a close decision over Steffi Kerson. 17-year-old Blanco who relocated to Oceanside from San Clemente, came off an outstanding 2013/14 campaign winning eight of the 10 events in the Southwest Conference Open Season series.


Tia Bianco © Steinmetz


In Boys 12 & under competition, 12-year-old Sebastian Mendes took command of the final in a hotly contested heat with 2014 National Open Mini Grom Champion Jett Schilling, Levi Slawson and Kade Matson. These kids were all ripping and we are definitely going to see some incredible surfing from these young talents through the season. The battle for the conference title is on!

In the Mini Grom 10 & under division Del Mar‚s newest grom on the rise Callahan Corn claimed his first ever win in NSSA competition. The 9-year-old was ripping the shifty peaks taking a convincing victory with a 11.23 total.

In her first appearance in elite Southwest Open Season competition, 14-year-old Bethany Zelasko was on fire in the Girls division taking an impressive victory on two 8.50 and 6.9. Although it‚s her first appearance in the Opens, Bethany is no stranger to success in NSSA competition, placing second at the National Interscholastic Championships for Shorecliffs Middle School.

Nolan Rapoza was named NSSA „Surfer of the Week‰ for the week of September 21st based on his stellar performance at the Southwest Open Season opener.
The NSSA Southwest Conference is proud to have support from Huntington Surf and Sport, Java Point, Surfing Magazine, Sex Wax, Scosche and Channel Islands. Many thanks to the City of Oceanside, Oceanside lifeguards and the NSSA staff for assisting us in staging a professional quality event to kick off the elite Southwest Open Season series. And a big shout out to commentator Christian Saenz for calling the action at the season opener.

Coming up: Premier competition on the west coast will continue with the second stop of the Southwest Open Season coming to the southside of the Huntington Beach Pier on September 27-28.

The Scoreboard
Southwest Conference Open Season Event #1
Oceanside South Jetty

20-21 September, 2014

Open Mens ˆ Man On Man Format
1. Nolan Rapoza-Long Beach 17.36
2. Griffin Colapinto-San Clemente 8.54

Open Juniors
1. Cole Houshmand-San Clemente 13.03
2. Tyler Gunter-Huntington Beach 12.07
3. Ryland Rubens-Pacific Beach 11.00
4. Gunner Day-San Clemente 9.43

Open Boys
1. Sebastian Mendes-Agoura Hills 16.60
2. Jett Schilling-San Clemente 14.20
3. Levi Slawson-Encinitas 9.63
4. Kade Matson-San Clemente 8.07

Open Mini Groms
1. Callahan Corn-Del Mar 11.23
2. Ryder Salberg-San Clemente 9.56
3. Dax Mcphillips-San Clemente 8.43
4. Ethan Prestage-Carlsbad 3.40

Open Women
1-Tia Blanco-Oceanside 13.00
2. Steffi Kerson-Thousand Oaks 12.26
3. Malia Osterkamp-San Clemente 10.77
4. Rachel Tominaga-Manhattan Beach 7.80

Open Girls
1. Bethany Zelasko-Dana Point 15.40
2. Alyssa Spencer-Carlsbad 13.50
3. Tiare Thompson-La Jolla 12.07
4. Samantha Sibley-San Clemente 7.87

Performers Of The Event
Nolan Rapoza
Cole Houshmand
Tia Blanco


Janice Argon

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