By Daniel Ritz
Standing on the access road above the Point at Salt Creek, Dana Hills High School surf coach Tim Sampson stood with three large trophies and three of his surf team athletes.
For only the second time in the history of the league, every one of the five South Coast Individual Surfing Championship winners from the South Coast League Competition belong to the same school.
“Two of them already ran out to surf,” said Sampson with only minimal disapproval. “I can try and get them in.”
In the South Coast League Individual Championship competition— held in small, but consistent and glassy conditions at Upper Trestles in San Clemente from Nov. 29-30—members from each of the South Coast League’s four teams competed for individual honors. All other South Coast League surf competitions are based on cumulative team scoring.
For Dana Hills High School, Ian Gottron (Jr.), won Boys Shortboard, Bethany Zelasko (Sr.) won Girls Shortboard, Ben Kappes (Jr.) won first place in Boys Longboard, while Eva Levy (Fr.) took top honors in Girls Longboard. Craig Whetter(Sr.) rounded out the Dana Hills High sweep.
Sampson, in his third year as head coach of the Dana Hills surf team, has set the foundation of a legacy in his short term as coach. After going undefeated in South Coast League competitions in 2016, Sampson and his team came into the 2017 season confidently.
“To be honest, I knew last year that we could do this in 2017,” said Sampson. “I’m not surprised. I’m just proud of these kids.”
Although not taking team honors, Sampson is confident his Dana Hills team can remain dominant in what he says is quickly becoming a more competitive region.
“Next year, we’ll be returning some of our best surfers and we will have a few incoming freshmen that I’m very excited about,” said Sampson. “Good things to come.”
Sampson may be looking forward, but his surfers are busy enjoying the spoils of their victories.
“It’s really nice to be able to win together,” said Craig Whetter (Sr.) as he zipped up his wetsuit to join his teammates in the water. “We’re always competing against one another; it’s nice to win together for once.”