Local Surfers Make Mark at NSSA East Coast Championships

Local Surfers Make Mark at NSSA East Coast Championships

Mia Gallagher, 14, of Ocean City, left, took top honors winning the Open Women's Title. (Photos provided by National Scholastic Surfing Association)

Two young Ocean City surfers won their divisions at the 2020 National Scholastic Surfing Association East Coast Championships held September 11-13 in Carolina Beach, N.C.

The top surfers from up and down the coast traveled to enjoy the chance to compete, especially in great surf thanks to multiple hurricanes brewing off the coast, according to a press release.

Ocean City’s Cruz Dinofa, 11, won the Mini-Grom and the Super Grom divisions, while Ocean City’s Mia Gallagher, 14, took top honors winning the coveted Open Womens Title, which puts her name “on the board” along with local surf legends Rob Kelly and Matt Keenan, who won titles in 2007 and 1995, respectively.

Gallagher also took home the title in the Girls division. Meanwhile, Mia’s sister, Brynn Gallagher, 12, also made it to the final round of Open Super Girls and placed 4th overall in that division.

One of the thrilling highlights of the competition was Dinofa’s exciting come-from-behind win in the Super Groms final with an incredible air-landing 8.57 score with just 25 seconds to go on the clock, making it the second time in a row Dinofa won that title.

Other local competitors included Cooper Jewell, also of Ocean City, who competed in both the Boys and the Menehune divisions.

The level of surfing and also the level of excitement were running high in Carolina Beach, especially after a long shutdown from competitive surfing due to COVID-19.

NSSA Executive Director Janice Aragon, who is a former ISA World Champ and a new inductee to the Surfing Hall of Fame, was thrilled to be able to travel the 3,000 miles from her home in Huntington Beach, Calif., to finally “let the kids surf again.”

She and West Coast NSSA Director Gayline Clifford worked for many months overcoming permit challenges in various potential surf contest venues before finding a home in Carolina Beach for the 2020 NSSA Championship event.

Both Aragon and Clifford gave high praise to the town of Carolina Beach for allowing them the opportunity to prove that the NSSA can safely and responsibly run a major competition while remaining compliant to all the safety guidelines and requirements.

Mia Gallagher said, “It was great to be able to put on the jersey and compete at a big event again. NSSA did an awesome job and I was so happy with my performance and to see all my friends again. The waves have really been firing so I am stoked to be able to do it again next week at Easterns.”

Easterns is the next main event for East Coast surfers. The event is run by the Eastern Surfing Association and will be held at Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head, N.C., on September 20-26.

Mia Gallagher in action.
Cruz Dinofa, 11, of Ocean City, wins the Mini-Grom and the Super Grom divisions.