O.C. Surfers Make Serious Splash on National Stage

O.C. Surfers Make Serious Splash on National Stage

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Brynn Gallagher celebrates winning the Open Super Girls (12&U) Division. (Photos courtesy ESA SNJ)

For the first time in history the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) held their National Championship on the East Coast and two young Ocean City surfers came home with some wins, according to a news release Monday.

This pinnacle achievement contest is typically held at The Pier in Huntington Beach, California but this year the NSSA was continually denied permits there due to the pandemic. Surfers from Hawaii, California and all up and down the East Coast traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina where they got to experience some of the best hurricane swell and pumping conditions that the East Coast has to offer.

Click here to see one of Brynn Gallagher’s waves (Video Credit: Outer Banks Drone)

The NSSA National Championships was held Oct. 20-24 at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina. 115 Surfers competed in 277 seeded slots for the National event.

Two young Ocean City surfers returned home National Champions- Brynn Gallagher, who won the Open Super Girls (12&U) Division, and Cruz Dinofa, who won the Open Mini Groms (10&U) Division.

Both of these surfers had to compete through quarterfinal heats and semifinal heats before making it to the main stage for their National Finals. In fact, two of the last events of the entire contest happened to be the Dinofa and Gallagher back-to-back wins, creating an absolutely thrilling finale for these local kids.

Cooper Jewell of Ocean City also competed in the event.

Brynn Gallagher and Cruz Dinofa

Cruz Dinofa, 11, who routinely travels to Hawaii and to the West Coast to train was happy to be reunited with all his surfing friends saying, “It was so awesome to be with all my friends {from the East Coast, Hawaii and California}. They all surfed so good and we cheered each other on. North Carolina had such great waves too. It was all so fun.”

Brynn Gallagher, 12, certainly agreed with Cruz.

“The waves were overhead and firing all week long. I was just so happy to be able to compete in my first National event and to win a title was just insane. The contest was super fun and all the girls were ripping,” said Brynn.

Mia Gallagher (second from right) takes home some hardware in two finals.

Brynn’s sister Mia Gallagher, 15, also came home with some hardware. Mia surfed her way through to two finals and finished runner-up by just 0.5 in the Explorer Womens division behind Pua DeSoto, a 6-time National Champion from Makaha, Hawaii.

Mia also finished 4th in Explorer Girls. Additionally, Cruz placed 4th in the Junior Air Show, which is a high profile mid-contest event showcasing some of the top names in amateur surfing and their gravity-defying aerial maneuvers.

The contest announcer, Gayline Clifford, who is the West Coast NSSA conference director commented that “these groms from Ocean City, NJ have just been killing it here all week” and she also reminisced on the mic about how Ocean City has been a breeding ground for turning out incredible surf talent for decades with mentions of Ocean City’s Lance Miller, Rob Kelly, Matt Keenan and his father, Joe Keenan, who served as a former NSSA Northeast conference director.