SJ Murphy has won his fair share of surf events during the last three years.
The Malibu High surf team member captured another top finish for Malibu at the High School Division 1 Scholastic Surf Series event at the Ventura County Fairgrounds on Dec. 4. Murphy scored an 8.5 and 7.0 in the men’s shortboard final to win the competition.
Jon Lewis, one of the surf squad’s coaches, said Murphy, an 11th grader, is so successful in the water due to his combination of surfing skill and level-headedness. The coach said many talented surfers do great free surfing, but struggle in competitions.
“SJ has the mental makeup to do both,” Lewis said. “Only he can determine how successful he wants to be.”
Murphy wasn’t the only Shark to surf in a good performance at the clash. Tenth-grader Betsey Lee won the women’s longboard and her teammate, Saxon Rhodes, a ninth-grader, finished third in the same event. Eleventh-grader Italo Masinas finished fourth in the mens shortboard.
Malibu was defeated by Santa Barbara 65-57 at the eight-team surfing function. Morro Bay had the most team points — 78.5 — in their win over Oak Park.
Malibu’s performance mirrors the 17-member team’s first event of the season in October, which they won. Murphy and Lee picked up wins at that surf meet and Masinas and Rhodes turned in good performances.
Lewis, a former pro surfer, said the quartet is all talented surfers. He said Lee and Rhodes don’t get riled up if they make a mistake on a wave.
“They don’t show emotion,” Lewis said. “They didn’t make it to the next round in the shortboard at Ventura, but they just moved on and performed well in the longboard.”
Masinas, Lewis said, is a fantastic surfer with a great attitude.
“He just goes out there and gives his all,” the coach said.
Murphy has a lot of experience surfing in a variety of contests, which gives him an edge when competing in events.
“He has learned how to be patient and to not hesitate,” Lewis said. “He has learned not to take waves that are not so good. Plus, he is coachable.”
The day before the high school surf team’s meet, the middle school surf team finished second in an eight-team event. Malibu’s 153 points fell behind first-place Cabrillo’s 223 points.
Malibu Middle’s Tanner Vodraska finished tops in the boys’ shortboard, and his brother Talan finished second. The Sharks’ Brook Carlson finished first in the girls’ longboard, and Scout Swing finished fifth in the coed bodyboard.
The high school team’s next meet is Jan. 8 at Tar Pits Beach in Carpintaria. The middle school team takes the waves at the same beach on Jan. 7.