GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Matt Meola was a big winner at the Hawaii Amateur Surfing Association state championships at Ala Moana Bowls, which ended yesterday.
Meola makes money
If ever there was a time to turn in a strong performance in the Burger King Hawaii Amateur Surfing Association state championships, this was the year.
With significant prize money on the line for the first time in several divisions and categories, as well as entry into the Surfing America USA Championships in October, it paid for the nearly 300 competitors to surf well.
Finals for the 25 divisions were held yesterday and Friday, but results weren't announced until a banquet last night.
Maui's Matt Meola was one of the standouts of the entire competition, winning his first state title by taking the junior men's (ages 15-17) shortboard division -- which typically includes the best of Hawaii's future professional prospects -- and placing second in the open men's shortboard.
"I never made a final in states before, so I'm stoked," said Meola, who plans to start participating in junior pro and World Qualifying Series events later this year. "I'm super psyched."
Because there are no restrictions regarding prize money for amateurs in the sport, HASA and the event's sponsors decided to offer prize money this year in some of the most competitive divisions and categories -- junior men's shortboard, open men's shortboard, girls (17-under) shortboard, air show and also for the male and female MVP surfers of the championships.
Meola, 18, narrowly defeated Dege O'Connell in the four-surfer junior men's shortboard final on Friday, with 13.40 points (out of 20) for his top two waves to O'Connell's 13.35. Granger Larsen (12.40) and Alex Smith (9.50) placed third and fourth.
Meola received $500 for his victory, and then pocketed $200 more as the open men's shortboard runner-up to Kai Barger (who won $500).
"There wasn't that many waves, so you could see how everyone was doing," Meola said. "In the open men's I felt that Kai Barger definitely won, and (in the junior men's) I didn't think I did that good because right after I got an all right (ride), I looked back out and saw Dege get a better one."
O'Connell did have the top individual scoring ride (7.25) in the junior men's shortboard decider, but could only add a 6.10 to it for his final total. Meola received scores of 6.75 and 6.65.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Surfer Matt Meola in the junior mens short board competition of the Hawaii Amateur Surfing Association state championships at Ala Moana Bowls on Friday.
Alessa Quizon also picked up her first state title and $500 by winning the girls shortboard final held Friday. In addition, she was named the MVP of all the female competitors, and received $750 more.
The 13-year-old from Waianae has only been competing in major amateur events for the last year, but she continued a very successful streak of recent results that also included a fifth-place showing at the World Junior Championships in Portugal last month.
Quizon tallied 12.65 points for her top two waves to take the final that also included Coco Ho (10.00), Alana Blanchard (8.75) and Leila Hurst (5.50).
"I thought I caught some good ones, trying to make the most out of them," said Quizon. The chance for money "adds some pressure, makes you want to do well. And I think it will be fun to represent Hawaii (at the Surfing America USA Championships). I want to be on top."
Among others also taking home money from the event were Kainoa Haas ($500), winner of the air show division in which surfers were judged on their best single aerial maneuver, and male MVP Larsen ($750 for the award, $975 total), who placed fifth in the open men's shortboard in addition to third in the junior men's shortboard.
Some of the state title winners in finals held yesterday were: Ben Lacy in the masters men's (25-34) shortboard, Jason Oh in the men's (18-over) bodyboard and Yukiko Whiteside in the women's (18-over) shortboard.
Other division champions included: Keanu Asing in boys (12-14) shortboard; Luke Hitchcock in menehune (11-under) shortboard; Nelson Ahina in menehune (14-under) longboard; Gino Bell in senior men's (40-over) longboard; Stacia Ahina in women's longboard; Robert Howard in senior men's (35-44) shortboard; Summer Hillen in open women's bodyboard; Cedric Caires in junior men's longboard; Craig Belmores in legends (50-over) longboard; Kal Faurot in grandmasters (45-over) shortboard; Ellison Kobayashi in boys (14-under) bodyboard; Arec Colon-Aldeguer in bodyboard launch; Kekoa Enriquez in men's (18-29) longboard; Geoff Wong in open men's longboard; Makana Ciotti in men's (18-24) shortboard; Pono Grace in junior men's bodyboard; James Clancy in bodyboard drop-knee; Shane Hamamoto in masters (30-39) longboard and Kristen Steiner in girls longboard.