Hawaii school wins national surfing title
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
In just two years of existence, Elite Element Academy has established itself as the elite high school surfing team in the United States.
The Hawai'i-based school — called E2A for short — won the high school team championship at the NSSA Interscholastic Championships this week at Dana Point, Calif.
The event is considered the national championship for high schools and middle schools.
E2A also won the team title last year, when it entered for the first time. It was also the first time a Hawai'i school won the national championship.
"Here it is, our second year, and we won it twice — that's pretty exciting," E2A head coach Tony Moniz said. "But you know what? We had kind of a dream team this year. We had some really good kids who came through for us."
E2A dominated the two-day competition, finishing with 137 points. San Clemente (Calif.) placed second with 93.
"All our kids took care of business from the start," Moniz said. "Every kid advanced through the first two rounds, so we had a big lead already. Before the finals even started, we were leaps and bounds ahead."
E2A surfers swept the top three places in the varsity men's division. Keanu Asing placed first, Kiron Jabour was second, and Kaimana Jaquias was third.
Asing won a world junior championship earlier this year; Jabour and Jaquias are returnees from last year's national championship E2A team.
"It's just a different caliber of surfing with those guys," Moniz said. "There are a lot of talented surfers from the California schools, but the final turned into a competition between our three guys. And Keanu was on fire. He killed it."
Asing won the heat with a two-wave score of 17.25. Jabour was second with 14.5, and Jaquias was third with 11.50.
But perhaps the most valuable surfer for E2A was Kelia Moniz — the coach's daughter.
She won the varsity women's division for the second consecutive year.
"I told her there's no pressure since she already got one last year, so just go out and surf," Tony said. "I guess it worked because she got some good scores."
Kelia had a two-wave total of 16.0. Kaleigh Gilchrist of Newport Harbor (Calif.) was second with 12.5.
Maybe more impressive was Kelia's third-place showing in the varsity longboard division. She was the only girl in the division.
In essence, she provided key points for E2A in two separate divisions.
"I was psyched on both," Kelia said. "Just to make the final with all boys was big for me. And then it was cool to win (the women's title) again."
E2A is a home-school program based in Honolulu. The team roster featured students from O'ahu, Kaua'i and the Big Island.
"We all know each other from surfing, so it was cool to work as a team," Kelia said. "We felt like we were representing not just our school, but Hawai'i."
Other members of the team were Matty Costa, Isaiah Moniz and Keala Naihe.
E2A was the only Hawai'i school in the varsity competition. The other 11 teams in the field were from California and Florida.
"I really hope our state sees this and will recognize surfing as a sport in schools," Tony Moniz said. "It's sad that we had to put this team together ourselves, while the California schools got all the support."
E2A also placed second in the middle school team competition.
Kaoli Kahokuloa won the middle school boys division.
Tatiana Weston-Webb of Kapa'a Middle School won the girls division. Kapa'a placed fifth in the team standings.
The NSSA National Championships will continue this weekend with competition in the individual divisions.