Campus: CSU, Long Beach -- August 06, 2001

Cal State Long Beach Surf Team Captures College Title at 2001 National Championships

The Long Beach State surf team (clockwise from top) Jon Husak, Joe Quilico and Mike ReillyAfter a 10-year absence from the competitive ranks, the Long Beach State surf team managed to catch all the right waves and, with apologies to The Beach Boys, is "sitting on top of the world." Well, the collegiate world anyway.

In their first competitive season since 1990, the 49ers won their first-ever college team title at the 2001 National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) National Interscholastic Championships at Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point.

The CSULB "A" team outscored the defending state and national championship team from Mira Costa College, 122-99, en route to capturing the crown. UC Santa Barbara's "A" team placed third with 87 points.

It was a convincing turnaround for the Cal State Long Beach squad, which barely lost the state title in March to Mira Costa, 122-120, at Church Beach in San Clemente. The win also proved to be a literal team effort as the 49ers jumped out to a quick lead by advancing all nine team members to the quarterfinal round. It was a lead they would never relinquish.

"It was pretty unusual having all of our team members make it to the quarters. It's a tough thing to do because there is usually someone who has a bad day," said Mike Reilly, one of the team's top surfers and the club president for 2001-2002. "We didn't do it at any other time during the year. We waited until the biggest, most important contest of the year to do it, and that was huge."

From the quarterfinal round, five of the nine CSULB "A" team members made their way to the finals of the four different divisions.

Leading the way for the 49ers was junior Jon Husak, who won his own individual national title with a first-place finish in the Longboard Division. Normally, the long board competitor for the CSULB "B" team, Husak was moved up to the club's "A" squad when teammate Aaron Garrett couldn't compete at the national event. He certainly made the most of the opportunity.

"It was a thrill," said Husak, whose brother is the starting quarterback for Stanford University and whose father is a former CSULB associate athletic director. "It was the first contest I had ever won, and it was definitely a good first contest to win."

"We were so stoked before our heat because we knew Jon had won it," Reilly added. "In any competition, there is a lot of luck involved, including which waves you get. Jon's style of surfing is very fluid and stylish, and the waves he was getting just fit his style perfectly."

In the competitive Men's Division, Reilly and senior team captain Ben Will placed third and fourth, respectively, accounting for nearly half of the 49ers' 122 team points. The outcome may have been a little disappointing for Will, who won the individual state title at San Clemente in March, but it was a good finish for Reilly.

"Individually, I had one of my better outings. I was definitely more focused," noted Reilly, a Huntington Beach High School grad who won the NSSA high school men's national title in 1994, 1995 and 1996. "In high school, I'd always do okay during the regular season and then do some of my best surfing at the championship events. I just always seem to do better at bigger contests."

Other top finishers for the 49ers included Jodie Nelson, who finished second in the Women's Division, and Shannon Henry, who placed third in the Bodyboard Division.

The CSULB "B" team collected 42 points at the championships to finish seventh among the 12 competing college teams. The "B" squad was led by Allison Arvizu, who advanced to the finals in the Women's Division and placed fifth.

Overall, it was quite a showing for what is considered a first-year team.

During the 1990s, Cal State Long Beach had been without a surf club. The organization ceased to exist after the 1989-90 academic year because there was no one willing to take on the duties necessary to maintain club status on the campus.

"There are certain guidelines you have to follow if you want to be a club on the campus-submit travel forms, fund raising, getting people to show up to meetings," explained Rita Hayes, CSULB club sports director. "The Surf Club folded in 1990 because it didn't have the leadership it needed to survive."

That changed in the fall of 2000, however, when Will, Reilly, Jon Moyer and Joe Quilico took the lead in reestablishing the club. With Hayes' help, the Long Beach State Surf Club was holding meetings and competing in the NSSA's College Team Season, which consists of a five-event schedule. The club grew to about 70 members in its first year back.

"This collegiate series for surfing is pretty strong, and it also exists at the high school level," Hayes pointed out. "I think what we are seeing is a wave of those kids who have competed at the high school level moving on to college and wanting to continue surfing competitively."

The 49ers got an early glimpse of their competitive potential when they took first place at the season-opening event last October at Black's Beach in San Diego. The team went on to post two second-place finishes and one third-place finish in the next three events before taking the runner-up title at the state championships.

Not everyone was surprised by the 49ers' performance after such a long hiatus from competition, especially the team members.

"I wasn't really surprised by how successful we were," Reilly said. "Based on the talent that I knew we had here at the university, I knew we had a really good chance at performing well this year as a team.

"I'm already looking forward to next season," added Reilly, who said the 49ers would probably field three teams in 2001-2002. "We've got a lot of good talent coming back, and some good surfers coming to the campus for their first year here."

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