In a 12-hour contest that came down to the final wave, Ocean City High School’s surf team won the state championship yesterday, coming out two points ahead of defending champs Manasquan.
“I have been doing this for 32 years and I have never seen a contest won by so few points,” Red Raiders coach Mark Miedama said. “I am still amazed.”
Ocean City’s Nick Brady, who finished second overall in the competition, shredded the final wave of the day to provide the 180-178 margin of victory.
It was a long day for Ocean City, which left town at 4:30 a.m. for the completion at the North End Pavilion beach in Spring Lake. But it was worth it as the Raiders won their first state title since 2013 and their 24th of the last 32 years. They compete in the National Scholastic Surf Association’s Northeast region.
The icing on the cake came at approximately 8:45 when a Police and Fire Department escort met the team bus close to home and provided an escort to the High School with sirens blaring and a small but loud group of fans cheering their arrival on 9th Street.
Manasquan, which won the competition by more than 60 points last year and was considered the prohibitive favorite, appeared stunned when the scores were announced.
“It was getting pretty dark at that point but I could see how shocked (Manasquan’s coaches and surfers) they were to hear their school called as the second place team,” Miedama said.
Brady was in fourth place in the individual competition when he caught a big wave, the final one of the day. He not only catapulted into second place in the individual competition, the effort pushed his team past Manasquan in the overall standings.
Though his performance stood out, Brady was not the only hero for Ocean City. In the men’s competition, Evan Couval took fourth place overall and Joe Kelly placed 6th. A.J. Oves took third in the long board final and Aspen Lawler was third overall in the women’s division.
Coach Miedama felt good vibes in the air at Spring Lake “the conditions were great all day”. He said, which made for a fair contest. “The waves were great. There were head high and overhead waves most of the day and they were breaking hard. Lots of barrels.”
The Raiders took full advantage of the situation, snagging great rides on wave after wave.
“There was no running tally kept for the score and I was doing the math in my head,” Miedama said. “I couldn’t believe how close it was. I was afraid we were going to be the ones on the short end by a point or two.”
Instead, when the final numbers were crunched, it was Ocean City emerging victorious, setting off a wild celebration and the joyful bus trip south on the Parkway.
“We got word the Police and Fire Departments were going to meet us, which was really cool,” the coach remarked.