By Steve Breazeale
The San Juan Hills High School girls surf team put on a display of grit, skill and versatility at the Scholastic Surf Series State Championship in Oceanside on April 23.
The four-member team had two surfers nursing nagging knee injuries, but they surfed exceptionally well in spite of it, bringing home a shortboard state title and a runner-up finish in longboard.
Senior Gabby McCormic and sophomore Rachel Hall entered the competition with lingering knee injuries, but when called upon by coach Nate Roberts, they delivered.
Hall was a member of the triumphant shortboard team and McCormic was a part of the second-place longboard group.
Junior Lily Benjamin and senior Meg Roh proved to be indispensable, as both surfers competed for the Stallions in both the shortboard and longboard disciplines.
Because they have such a small roster, the four surfers had to ride in both shortboard and longboard contests all season long. The Stallions’ girls team won the Capistrano Coast League championship and defeated San Clemente in a nonleague contest for the first time in program history earlier in the season.
“They battled through adversity (at the state championships) and were able to win,” Roberts said. “It was a good testament to how hard my kids worked and how good they are.”
In years past, the Stallions have been the team to beat in the both the Capistrano Coast League and Section B of the state championships. San Juan Hills entered the state competition as the No. 1 overall seed and were the four-time defending Section B State champs.
The boys team lost several impact surfers to graduation, but the girls’ squad was filled with surfers who know how to win.
In the shortboard contest, the San Juan Hills girls defeated Canyon Crest, Long Beach Wilson and San Marcos, the eventual overall team champion, to claim the top spot. After a first-round bye, the longboard team defeated Cathedral Catholic in the first heat before falling to Aliso Niguel in the finals. The longboard team missed out on claiming the first place trophy by 0.2 points, according to Roberts.