Kaua‘i girls put on a show at nationals

Three young Kaua‘i girls have been successful in the water of late. Each of these 14 year olds have been leaving trails of spray and a bevy of some high ranking competitors in their wake, most recently eliminating some of the top riders in the nation.

Malia Manuel of Wailua just came back from France, and the ISA Junior World Championships helping the Hawai‘i team to a third place overall finish.

Prior to that Manuel, gained top-ranking honors in the prestigious National Scholastic Surfing Association Hawai‘i season finishing first overall in the Open Womens competition. This past week at nationals for the NSSA, Manuel qualified for the finals in the Explorer Girls division. In her two heats, Manuel advanced in 6- to 7- foot faces at Salt Creek at Dana Point.

Nage Melamed of Hanalei has been on a streak as well. Following a second-place overall Open Womens NSSA Hawai‘i season, she went on to win the state championships at Ala Moana scoring a record high 19.5 two-wave combination score — the highest cumulative score of any of the 200 competitors. She then won the Ripcurl Grom Search at Huntington Beach, Calif., which qualifies her for the national championship event in November. This past week at NSSA Nationals she had made it to two finals. In the Explorer Womens Final, Melamed eliminated Coco Ho and Sage Erickson, and in the Explorer Girls semifinal, she managed to squeak by in a heat that found only one point separating second through fifth place. Now, she has two NSSA finals to look forward to on Saturday at Trestles.

Leila Hurst of Kilauea has been the most impressive. Heading into NSSA Regionals in March, her rankings needed a boost to qualify. When the pressure was on, Hurst won the Explorer Girls final, advancing to this stage on the Mainland. When Hurst represented Hawai‘i at world’s in France, she lost a rough heat and was on the verge of elimination. Hurst, though, went on to win four more tough heats in a row against the world’s best, taking her to the semifinals and gaining precious points for the Hawai‘i team.

On the national stage for the NSSA at Dana Point this week, Hurst has been the most impressive female surfer in the water. She has been scoring strong 8.5 to 9.5s on many 10-foot faced waves in the early rounds, and has since qualified along with Melamed in two finals far.

The Explorer Girls and Explorer Womens Finals will be graced by a combination of these three young surfers.

The Open Womens division begins today and the heats will feature the likes once again of Ho, Erickson, Courtney Conologue, Alyssa Cuizon, Monyca Byrne Wicke, Amy Nichols, Demi Bosterli, and a host of others that will be challenging and gunning for Manuel, Melamed and Hurst.

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