Mainland takes talent

to whole new level

{child_byline}KRISTINE AUBLE For the Press

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OCEAN CITY — The Mainland Regional High School surf team is competing as a varsity team this fall after years as a club.

Richard Sless, who worked on the Atlantic City Beach Patrol for 40 years, has coached the Mustangs since fall 2013. He has worked since then to get the team varsity status. He said the Board of Education’s decision to approve it will help the surfers in the long run.

“The kids get varsity letters, and they get to put it on their resumes,” Sless said.

Senior Marley Miller has been on the team her entire high school career and says her time surfing will play an important role in her college decisions.

“I might want to major in marine biology or oceanography just from being in love with the water,” Miller said.

Marie Corson is the mother of Tommy Corson, a senior who hopes to surf in college, and says the parents are glad their children’s dedication will pay off.

“The kids have worked hard, and we’re excited that it’s a varsity sport,” Corson said. “They love coming out. I’s very lighthearted, and there’s a lot of camaraderie.”

Because the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, which governs most high school sports in the state, does not recognize surfing as a sport, local teams belong to the National Scholastic Surfing Association and follow its rules.

The NSSA is a nonprofit organization that helps young surfers gain experience competing while supporting their academics as well, with a minimum 2.0 GPA requirement for its student members.

Typically, each contest has three judges, experienced volunteers who score waves from 0.1 to 10. The scores is based on degree of difficulty and variety of innovative maneuvers, plus speed, power and flow.

Each NSSA event has boys, girls and longboard contests that consist of heats, semifinals and finals.

“It only takes six guys, two girls and a longboarder, so it’s anybody’s game,” Sless said.

To prepare for the fall season, Mainland’s team paddled out at Fifth Street in Ocean City for a Sept. 25 scrimmage in 4- to 6-foot waves and a slight onshore wind. Ocean City defeated Mainland 115-75.

Ocean City’s Sam Oliva placed first in the finals for boys, and Tommy Corson was second for Mainland. Nick Brady, who finished first in last years NSSA Northeast High School Championships, took third for Ocean City.

Aspen Lawler, a senior at Ocean City who finished fourth in the NSSA Northeast High School Championships last season, took first in the girls final. Fellow Red Raiders Rachel Bacon and Peyton Matura came in second and third, respectively.

Ocean City Coach Mark Miedama says his team has been practicing hard by getting out in the water three days a week.

“I think we’re in good shape,” Miedama said.

The Mustangs won the longboard event with Vincent Giunta placing first. Ocean City’s Dom Monteleone came in second and teammate AJ Oves third.

Along with Corson and Giunta, one of Sless’ top surfers is junior Pat Taylor, who finished fourth in the final. Taylor finished second in the NSSA Northeast High School Championships last year.

“I would like to win the state championship. I got second last year, and I just want to win,” Taylor said.

Taylor also won the men’s final during the Mustangs’ contest against St. Augustine Prep on Thursday. Mainland beat the Hermits 85.5 to 81.5 at Andover Avenue in Margate.

“The team is definitely really good,” Taylor said. “The whole organization has just been getting better and better.”

Even though the local teams go head-to-head, each team will try to beat Manasquan at this year’s NSSA Northeast High School Championships on Oct. 15 in Spring Lake.

“If we can’t do it, maybe Mainland can,” Miedama said.

After the state championships in Spring Lake, the NSSA offers national championships in Salt Creek and Huntington, California.

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Contact: 609-272-7210 KAuble@pressofac.com

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