The Mainland Regional High School surf team recorded a strong second-place finish at the National Scholastic Surfing Association’s Northeast Conference High School Championships held Sunday, Oct. 16 in Spring Lake.
The Mustangs defeated local powerhouse teams Ocean City and St. Augustine Prep, placing second to Manasquan, which won the event for the third straight year.
Fourteen different schools competed and each school entered three teams. Mainland utilized strong performances by all team members for the second place. The Mustangs' previous best finish was fourth place last year.
The Mainland “A” team, comprised of seniors Matt McCully and Andrew Bradley as well as Pat Taylor, Vincent Giunta, Tommy Corson, Kyle Juliano, Marley Miller and freshman Anna Marie DiNofrio, combined for a score of 123 points. Other strong performances came from Chris Mansi, Alex Lee, Jackson Longnecker, and longboard standouts Brandon Kintish and Andrew Lonkart.
Highest point finishers for the Mustangs were Taylor, who won second place in the Men’s Division, and Giunta, who garnered a strong third-place finish in the Longboard Finals. Taylor had to surf through six heats. Giunta, like his alumni brother Nicholas (Class of 2015), competed in two events and seven heats to make it to the state finals.
Mainland is coached by Richard Sless, now in his fourth year with the team. Mainland has had a surf team for approximately 25 years, but has never experienced this level of success.
“There is a strong surf presence here in Atlantic County," Sless said. "The fall is the best season for waves here in South Jersey primarily from tropical storms out in the ocean and from the dominant northeast winds this time of year. The water is still warm and all these conditions combined make for excellent competitive and recreational surfing.”
Sless said that parental involvement has been a large part of the success of the team.
“The parents come to practice and all of our events" he said. "It is pretty tough coming up to States Avenue (in Atlantic City) on a Sunday morning and jumping in the ocean at 8 a.m. We would not have the success that we do without their support.”
The Mainland surf team has a Facebook page that features many of the team's photos, articles, and announcements.
NOTE: Aspen Lawler of Longport helped the Ocean City High School surf team place fourth at the NSSA Northeast championships. Lawler finished fourth overall in the women's final, while Nick Brady of Ocean City won the men's final.