Jersey Shore High Schools Dominate Surf Competitions

The Garden State has grown to feature one of the most comprehensive and organized high school surf networks of any state on the East Coast.

Manasquan High School surfer rides a wave
Audrey Iglay (17) surfing for Manasquan High School Surf Team in a contest between Manasquan and Point Pleasant surf clubs. Photo courtesy of Catalina Fragoso

It’s probably fair to say that many haven’t heard of the Manasquan High School vs. Ocean City High School surf-team rivalry.

But the schools, which represent two of the Shore’s thriving surf communities, dominate state competitions. Ocean City has taken 12 titles and Manasquan eight titles, since they began competing against each other 20 years ago. No other school has managed to win even a single championship.

They are just two of the dozen high schools in the state that have surfing teams and compete each year in meets that run in September and October.

Since the inception of high school surfing in the mid-1980s, New Jersey has grown to feature one of the most comprehensive and organized high school surf networks of any state on the East Coast. Ten of New Jersey’s high school teams have competed in the National Championships in California.   

Surf teams are coached by teachers who are usually surfers themselves, as well as volunteers from the community. Each school has surfers in three divisions: boys, girls and longboard. The school with the most top surfers wins the National Scholastic Surfing Association Joe Keenan High School Championship Award. Some years, the waves are tiny, but there have been legendary events where the kids are challenged by big nor’easter swells.

In Ocean City High School, the sport fields meet right at the boardwalk. Its surf team has produced more pro surfers than anywhere in the state and dominated the first 25 years of wave riding, winning every year except one. Its former coach, Mark Miedama, led the Red Raiders for 35 years, with 23 titles and five trips to the National Championships.

A surfer himself, Miedama retired from teaching and coaching last year.

“I saw so many changes in high school competitive surfing since 1986…mostly positive. I got to witness the surfers become recognized as true student athletes, and unfortunately, a slower move towards equity with girls’ representation in contests. But it’s there now,” he says.

Schools that compete include St. Augustine Prep, Southern Regional, Ocean City, Mainland Regional, Atlantic City, Lower Township, Holy Spirit, Manasquan, Point Pleasant, Wall and Donovan Catholic. 

“It’s inspiring to see how many schools have backed surfing as a legitimate sport,” Miedama adds.

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