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Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, November 6, 2000


By Pierre Tostee, Special to the Star-Bulletin
Joel Centeio of Kapolei buries his rail on a turn during his heat
yesterday at the Billabong Junior World Championships at Makaha.

Centeio fired up
at world juniors

The Campbell High senior
continues to dominate his level
while looking at a pro career

By Brandon Lee
Special to the Star-Bulletin

In the unlikely event that a professional surfing career does not work out for local amateur sensation Joel Centeio, he says that he might consider one as a fireman.

After winning almost every major junior (17 and under) amateur title up for grabs this year on the national and international scene, however, it's more likely that his fellow competitors are the ones hoping to grab hold of a high-powered hose.

Among other titles in his possession, the four-alarm inferno that is Centeio already has claimed the U.S. and World Amateur championships this past summer.

Now the 17-year-old Campbell High School senior has his sights set on winning the Billabong Junior World Championships 2000, a two-day event for the best 19-and-under international surfers which began yesterday and will likely conclude tomorrow after an off day at Makaha Beach on Oahu's West side. The Billabong includes amateur and professional surfers.

"This would definitely be my biggest accomplishment so far if I win," Centeio said. "There's older and stronger guys in this one than the World Amateur, so this one is even bigger to me because of the competition."

Indeed, Centeio has so far stepped up to the higher level of his competition at the Billabong, placing first in his heat yesterday and advancing to the final day of the event. "It went real well," said Centeio of the first round.

With plans to turn professional shortly after graduation next summer, the Billabong is one of the last junior events that Centeio will compete in. Besides the National Scholastic Surfing Association Championships to be held next June, Centeio will surf as many professional events on the World Qualifying Series of the Association of Surfing Professionals tour as he can while still in school, in hopes of obtaining the highest seed possible for the WQS tour when he does turn professional.

The WQS tour is the qualifying series for the elite World Championship Tour -- a series of contests for the top 44-rated international surfers, which determines the overall world champion. And Centeio definitely has high aspirations for his future as a professional, including a world championship.

"It would be such a great accomplishment if it does happen someday, because when you first start out as a kid, you never really consider such a thing," Centeio said. "I'd like to be on the WCT in a year after being on the WQS, then stay on it for a long time, but if it doesn't happen right away I'll keep trying.

"I love competition. The feeling of winning makes me feel real good inside, but I'm not a sore loser either when I do lose."

Also on tap on the local surf scene, the Rusty/XCEL Pro started yesterday at Sunset Beach on Oahu's North Shore.

Hawaii's own world champion-elect and current Triple Crown of Surfing champion Sunny Garcia is competing in the event. The Triple Crown should have kicked off today at Honolua Bay on Maui with the Billabong Girls event if the big north swell which started to hit yesterday continued to build.

The Oahu portion of the Triple Crown will start with the G-Shock Hawaiian Pro for men and women at Haleiwa's Alii Beach Park, holding period Nov. 12-22. Then the men's Rip Curl Cup and the women's Quiksilver Roxy Pro at Sunset Beach are next, Nov. 24-Dec. 7.

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