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Cory Radis cracked a few waves in her heat, winning the top spot in shortboarding at the Oct. 26 Interscholastic Surfing Federation event. (J.P. Garcia photo / Santa Barbara Seals)

On Oct. 26, the Interscholastic Surfing Federation held the first contest in a five-month series of events that make up the season, precluding the States Invitational. The Santa Barbara High School Dons hit the water at 7:30 a.m. for their first-round heat against Villanova with one goal in mind: to surf to the best of their ability and have fun.

Carpinteria hosted the location for this season’s first contest in glassy 1- to 3-foot peaky waves with some bigger sets. The Dons lost two of their star athletes, Gabe Biancone and Shane Orr, who combined were instrumental to the team’s successful year in 2007.

Despite the loss, this year’s team is looking stronger than ever. The roster is about 23 members deep, out of which several are returning members who have been on the team for three or four years and have refined their competitive skills.

As is typical of the team, there were a large number of parents who came to the event to cheer on the Dons. The first round against Villanova went very well. The Dons swept every heat in all divisions except body boarding. It was entertaining to watch the men’s longboard team, which took second in the state last year and looks as if it’ll be a contender this year, too.

Senior Willy Radis and juniors Tyler and Shayne Millhollin are going to be some of the best longboarders Santa Barbara High has seen. Graduates Orr and Biancone helped season these underclassmen inthe past few years. Tyler Millhollin took third in the finals, and Radis placed sixth in very challenging afternoon low-tide conditions.

Few people could argue that the hardest division at the ISF is the men’s shortboarding division. Out of the six finalists, the Dons took four spots, a first for the team. Antoine Allain soared through heats throughout the day into the finals, scoring a seven-point ride in his semifinals and placing second in the finals. New team member and junior Matt Maheri glided into the finals, executing exquisite wave selection and smooth powerful turns.

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Santa Barbara longboarder Tyler Millhollin took home third place. (J.P. Garcia photo / Santa Barbara Seals)

John Outwater, a veteran and captain of the team, placed third, slashing his way through some heats. Ian Jenkins, returning to the team, took sixth in his first competition this year, proving to be an asset to the team. It could be one of the strongest shortboard teams the Dons have had.

The women had a successful day as well. Veterans Cory Radis and captain Chelsea Zaniboni placed first in their heats. Cory Radis cracked a few waves in her heat, winning the top spot in women’s shortboarding. Fellow shortboarder Glennie Rodgers placed third in the heat, throwing a few cutbacks in her finals heat. Zaniboni came in fourth in the shortboarding division and took home first place for the Dons in women’s longboarding, executing graceful nose rides. Both Rodgers and freshman Emmy Yates were knocked out in the longboard repo because of questionable judging.

Needless to say, the girls rocked and showed a lot of stoke throughout the day. Last year, Rodgers, Zaniboni, Elly Iverson and Cory Radis were part of the women’s team that took third in the States competition in Oceanside in longboarding and shortboarding. This year’s group of women is looking sharper than ever and will be strong contenders for the season title.

A big thanks to all of the Dons who came to support the team and to the parents for their continued support.

The Dons will take center stage again Nov. 22 in Santa Monica.

J.P. Garcia is coach of the Santa Barbara High School surfers.

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The Santa Barbara High School Dons celebrate their success. (J.P. Garcia photo / Santa Barbara Seals)