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U.S. juniors team ranked third in the world

The PacSun USA Surf Team with their bronze medals at ISA World Junior Surfing Championship closing ceremonies in Nicaragua June 16. Photo ISA/RommelGonzales
The PacSun USA Surf Team with their bronze medals at ISA World Junior Surfing Championship closing ceremonies in Nicaragua June 16. Photo ISA/RommelGonzales

By Andrea Swayne

It was quite a week for local under 18 surfers who were part of the bronze medal winning team representing the United States among a field of 300 juniors from 30 countries.

The PacSun USA Surf Team had their best showing yet on the world stage taking third place at the 2013 ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in Nicaragua, which wrapped up on June 16 after eight days of fierce competition. The team finished behind gold medalist Australia and Hawaii in silver.

A full 50 percent of the team was made up of local athletes Kevin Schulz, Colton Ward, Griffin Colapinto, Tia Blanco (all from San Clemente), Lulu Erkeneff (Dana Point) and Jacob Davis (Capo Beach).

Cam Richards (South Carolina), Nikki Viesins (Florida), Parker Coffin (Santa Barbara), Colin Moran (Costa Mesa), Jake Marshall (Encinitas), Frankie Harrer (Malibu) and alternate Thelen McKinna-Worrell (Malibu) rounded out the remainder of the team.

Schulz and Erkeneff made the decision to surf in the contest and skip their high school graduation ceremonies—Schulz from San Clemente High and Erkeneff from Dana Hills. Both said they were honored to have been chosen to represent the country and compete among the world’s best and MOST well-regarded under-18 surfers from all over the world. It was a bittersweet decision, but well worth it, they said.

“The trip was life changing, getting to meet people from all over the world who are just as passionate as I am about surfing and competing. Everything happens for a reason and although I am a little bummed about missing graduation, I am so amped to be a part of such a great program,” Erkeneff said. “I feel like that’s where I was supposed to be. Being a part of this team was a great ending to my high school career and even though I wasn’t here to walk with my classmates, it was worth it.”

The USA team also earned the silver medal in the annual Aloha Cup, relay style team completion. The relay team was made up of Erkeneff, Schulz, Richards Moran and McKinna-Worrell.

Individual medals were won by Veisins (bronze, Girls U18), Marshall (bronze, Boys U18) and Harrer (copper, Girls U16).

Surfing America Executive Director Greg Cruse had high praise for the team’s individual talent, teamwork and best ever showing at the ISA World Juniors.

“We have always had the talent to do well, but what has been missing in the past was the sense of ‘team.’ New coaches Ryan Simmons and Micah Byrne set out last June to build a cohesive unit out of our individual talent,” Cruse said. “It was great to see the kids finally understand this concept and watch them pull together and buoy their team mates to a bronze medal in the finals and to a silver medal in the Aloha Cup Team Relay.”

For full results, heat scores and video highlights, see www.isawjsc.com.

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