The St. Augustine Prep surfing team did something Sunday that only one other school has done in the past 24 years: beat Ocean City for the regional championship.
The Prep earned 160 points to beat Manasquan (156) and Ocean City (145) in the National Scholastic Surfing Association's Northeast Region High School State Championships at the 1st Street beach in Ocean City.
Ocean City had won 16 straight titles and 23 of the last 24 dating to 1989.
"We're definitely privileged to have that title for sure," Prep coach Kevin Morris said Monday. "We feel like the hard work we've put together for the last few years has definitely paid off. We're stoked to be the champs. It's great."
Next up for St. Augustine will be the national championships in California. The dates have yet to be set, but the event likely will be held in June 2014.
The Prep was shorthanded for the regional competition. As an all-boys school, the Hermits needed to find surfers for the girls field. They filled one of the two spots on the girls roster.
That one surfer was 15-year-old Maddie Peterson, of Wildwood Crest, one of the top young surfers in South Jersey. She won the girls division for the Prep.
"Her sheer dominance is pretty impressive," Morris said. "She's definitely a consistent, dominant surfer. Her surfing level is pretty high for a girl her young age."
Peterson was at a bit of a disadvantage as her regular surfboard was in transit from a contest in California.
"I had to use an older board that I kind of outgrew," Peterson said. "I wasn't surfing too good on it, but the waves gave me the opportunity to do something on them. I was very grateful."
Perry Siganos, a 16-year-old Prep junior, won the boys division. Teammate Sean Taylor, a junior, finished second.
Siganos opened up the final with a strong score. He said that allowed him to then focus on getting teammates Taylor and Mike Penza in the best position to get good waves.
"I was trying to block the other kids without interfering so they could get better waves so we could get more people with better results on our team," Siganos said.
"I knew that if a teammate wanted a wave or if another school was going to catch it and I was in position I was going to go or let one of my teammates get a good score so he could move up to a better position with a better score."
Morris said the boys final, which consisted of six surfers, was the most exciting part of the contest. Manasquan had two competitors in the finals, the Prep three and Southern Regional one.
"The whole time Manasquan was cheering for their guys," Morris said. "They had a cowbell on the jetty. It was pretty intense actually.
"It ended up that when they came and tallied it up, it was probably the closest I had ever seen it."
Ocean City lost for just the second time since 1989, coach Mark Miedama said. Atlantic City won the NSAA tournament in 1996, ending a seven-year reign by the Red Raiders. In 1997, Ocean City began a 16-year run of championships.
"It wasn't devastating. It had to happen soon or later," said Miedama, who lost 13 surfers from last year's team to graduation. "We just didn't have the depth we had in previous years."
"I don't want to say I was expecting it because I knew that we could win, but a few things would have to happen. For us, if we had two or three guys in the final, we might have been able to squeak it."
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