by Coach Benner Cummings
The San Clemente Triton surfing team repeats the NSSA national title win, using the skilled techniques of Jason Miller, Patrick and Dane Gudauskas, along with Kirk Lindahl. They bested Huntington Beach once again via Salt Creek.
Surfing winners seem to spring yearly from the San Clemente High team, like back-up Michael Taras and Travis Mellem, plus two excellent longboarders Steve Newton and Tommy Witt. Senior Matt Gahan garnered a strong second in the always-thrilling “Air Show,” as well as gaining a first place showing for himself in the NSSA Men’s Open division.
Talented Jeremy Johnson of Florida won top honors for the Men’s individual title. Another CJ Hobgood in the making for Florida? Young Colleen Mehlberg followed her brother Eric’s action on the Women’s longboard, winning first place, with Candice Appleby of San Clemente placing third. Ex-Triton surfer Brendan White won the Men’s college longboard division honors for San Diego State, with Dustin Franks placing third for San Marcos State. The Bernice Ayer Middle School (BAMS) won its exciting first-ever national title after three long years of trying.
Winning almost seems a certainty for Triton athletes raised here along the sea. It is nice to have these youthful heroes, as they tend to move others to even greater heights down the line. The desire for recognition and fame is always a motivating part of our daily lives. Machiavelli labeled it, in much simpler terms, “Glory.” Thus we tend to seek our surfing heroes as in the past, from the ranks of those with outstanding athletic achievements, as a team or as very talented individuals. Parents, as always, continue to wish these honors for their children, nobly and graciously recognized at today’s sporting events.
Little notes have been received from surfers so awarded, as they travel to vast distant seas, famous resorts and faraway places our generation only dreamed of, lacking both funds and said talents to even get there. They share these quotes: “You know, just witnessing the dawning of a sunrise off the beaches of Bali is a memory forever,” or “Our whole day was spent surfing the multi-blue turquoise waters that ever surround the Maldives. Surely nature must have meant these waters for surfers alone.” Now one understands why teachers and parents alike have such a time keeping youth to the local task. All too often we tend to forget that these well-traveled surfers have earned all of their colorful adventures, by soul-searching workouts, often as much as thrice daily, cold waters and all, to add their names to cups, honors, challenging victories and those faraway places. That’s something you can never take away from them. Success, persistence, and continued determination – remember, the Greeks didn’t take “Troy” without it – have been the foundation for all of these winning surfing teams. Hard work does do things! What is also so lasting about victories is the abiding pleasure parents, sons and daughters find when reflecting upon them. Victories can really be forever.
Certainly the Gudauskas family has to feel that way, with son Patrick winning a trophy performance with his first place showing for himself and for San Clemente, winning the Governor’s Cup against a strong group of challenging California surfers. This makes the third first place individual honors for the Tritons in four years. Mike Losness started the roll, followed by teammate Greg Long, and now young Patrick, with younger brother Tanner winning the Junior Men’s. In addition, brother Dane added points for the family.
Speaking of Greg Long, he repeated his winning ways with a second return to those dangerous waves off Cape Town, South Africa, in the annual Red Bull “Big Wave” contest, with over twelve finalists and amongst 25-foot swells, giving the 2001 NSSA Governor’s Cup another first place to his winning ways. He and his brother Rusty Long are now preparing for the US Open Championships in July at Huntington Beach, as are many of the better San Clemente surfers. A special salute goes to shortboarder Michael Taras as well for surfing skills and always-gutsy bulldog tenacity. To the many San Clemente award winners at the NSSA 25th Annual awards dinner, go so many honors! Perhaps these surfers will fill the awards circle even more in 2004; surfers such as Patrick, Dane and Tanner Gudauskas, ever-improving Dane Ward, Max McLlwee, Tom Witt, Jason Miller, Christian Wach, Colleen Mehlberg and Marissa Barry, plus, of course, mini-grom Kolohe Andino, who continues to surf off T-Street, watching and waiting for his place in the sun.
In closing, reflecting upon the many surfers I have known, they all seem to have made it a purpose to accept almost totally the responsibility for their own surfing destiny, really wanting to be successful. No — they HAVE to be successful. That is what makes them so dangerously good. You talk about your independent surfer!