Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, March 30, 2001


Dustin Cuizon of Campbell High School rides to a 9.5
(out of 10) on his way to winning the men's
shortboard division.

Young Hunter
helps Kahuku

Seventh grader leads
Red Raiders to third
straight prep surf title

By Brandon Lee
Special to the Star-Bulletin

At the National Scholastic Surfing Association's Hawaiian Regional Championships yesterday at Turtle Bay, Kahuku Intermediate's Lani Hunter took her fellow competitors to school.

The thing is, Hunter is just a seventh grader, while the rest of her fellow competitors in the women's high school division shortboard finals were -- as expected -- high schoolers.

Middle school surfers are permitted to compete in the high school division at the NSSA's, and Hunter maximized the opportunity for both herself and her team.

Overall team excellence propelled Kahuku past Campbell for its third consecutive prep team title on the final day of competition at the weeklong meet, but Hunter was the only Red Raider to actually win a division.

In solid and clean 3- to 4-foot waves that connected all the way from the point to shore, Hunter outclassed her older competition. She totaled just 11 points out of a possible 30 for her three scoring waves in the final, but it was enough for the victory.

"I'm stoked to come in first because I am one of the younger ones at these events," said Hunter, who also reached the semifinals of the open women's division during individual competition earlier in the week.

"It also feels great to help my team win. My coach was really excited and all of my teammates congratulating me made me feel like going right back out there again."

Kahuku finished with 120 total points to Campbell's 95. King Kekaulike came in third with 79 and Kalaheo, fourth, with 72. Leilehua finished a distant fifth with 38.

The top four teams all qualified for the NSSA National Championships, to be held June 26-30 at San Clemente, Calif.

Though Hawaii surfers have dominated the individual events at nationals for years now, state high schools have not been participating in team competition for as long as their mainland counterparts. Last year, Campbell's third place finish at nationals was the highest ever for a Hawaii team.

"Hell, yeah!" Hunter responded when asked if her Kahuku team is going to improve this year on Hawaii high schools' past success against mainland competition.

Team competition at the national level involves four scoring divisions: men's shortboard, women's shortboard, longboard and bodyboard (the last two have male and female participants competing against each other). In Hawaii, a non-scoring division --women's bodyboard-- is added.

Yesterday's other division winners included: Dustin Cuizon of Campbell for men's shortboard, Kekoa Auwae of Nanakuli for longboard, Kegan Yuson of Kalaheo for bodyboard and Chastity Baltazar of Waianae for women's bodyboard. Auwae and Baltazar each scored one of the day's three perfect-10 waves (10 full points from each of the judges), both doing so in their final heats.

"It's a very good possibility," said NSSA Hawaii Region Director Linda Robb, when asked about the Hawaii teams chances on improving their results at nationals. "Especially with as strong a showing as Kahuku had today. And Campbell also always seems to take it to another level at nationals."

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