PLNU Surf Team Boasts Strong Individual Performances, Waiting on Team Victory 

David O’Keefe (green) and Makana Franzmann (blue) posing with their first and second place plaques at Steamer Lane. Photo credit to Olivia Roberts.

The conclusion of the 2024 National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) State Championships in Huntington Beach on March 5 marks a pivotal moment for the Point Loma Nazarene University Surf Team, leaving only one competition left on their calendar and plenty to catch up on.

Here’s a recap of what you may have missed from the season so far:

Event One: Oct. 28-29, Huntington Beach

Sunny weather and 4-6 foot waves made nearly perfect conditions for the competing surfers to showcase their skills and start the season on a high note. 

On day one of the event, second-year graphic design major Ethan Mudge dropped a 9.67 in shortboard, the highest-scoring single wave of the event. He was followed by David O’Keefe who scored a two-wave total of 17.33 (a combination of waves scored 9.00 and 8.33). 

The success of PLNU’s male shortboard team continued into day two when second-year business major Dylan Franzmann placed first in the finals alongside first-year business administration major Kaylib Yang who placed third.

Despite these individual wins, the team came in third, trailing Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (SLO) and the University of California, San Diego. 

The team’s main challenge this season can be attributed to teammates being placed in the same heats as each other and having to compete for advancement, according to Neil Piper, a fourth-year business major and co-captain of the team. 

“Our team has so many high-quality surfers that we are our biggest competition,” said Piper. “It can be hard to advance in heats when we are matched up so early on in the seeding.” 

Event Two: Jan. 20-21, Oceanside 

This weekend originally posed difficult conditions for those surfing on day one with stormy forecasting; however, the wind and rain calmed for a more manageable finals day. 

Dylan Franzmann navigated the choppy waves on day one and received a perfect 10 and a backup score of 8.5, creating a heat total of 18.50. In competitive surfing, only the two highest-scoring waves of each surfer count toward their heat total. First-year business administration major Sofia Freyre, from the women’s shortboard team, added points to the team score by making it to the semifinals.

For the final results, second-year business administration major Makana Franzmann was also able to maneuver past rough conditions and into first place in the finals alongside Mudge who placed third. 

These performances all contributed to the team tying for first place with Cal Poly SLO. 

Event Three: Feb. 24-25, Santa Cruz

The third and furthest competition was located at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz. This wave is a notorious point break, meaning there is one peak where all the competing surfers have to sit and fight to catch each wave within their heat time. According to the team, tensions were high and competitors were scratching to gain their spot in the next round. 

The men’s shortboard final results showed O’Keefe placing first and Makana Franzmann placing second. O’Keefe’s motivations going into this competition were driven by his familiarity with the wave and his inspiration to make a collegiate final. 

“I was really, really fired up,” said O’Keefe. “I’d been training a lot, eating the right foods and all of that.”

PLNU’s women’s shortboarders also began to make a name for themselves with second-year business administration major Riley Malmstem securing one of the eight spots in the semifinals. 

The team completed its last regular season competition with a seven-hour drive back to campus and a second-place title behind the Saddleback College Surf Team.

Event Four: March 1-3, Huntington Beach

The latest event was the NSSA State Championships at the Southside of the Huntington Beach Pier. This event marked the beginning of the postseason and one of the last two chances for the PLNU Surf Team to claim a first-place victory. 

The competition took place on the first weekend of PLNU’s spring break, so the team’s roster had to be shifted with alternates and surfers competing in divisions they had never participated in before. 

First-year business administration major Zeke Rose typically competes in the longboard division, but took a spin at men’s shortboard due to lack of available surfers.

“I would have rather done longboard,” said Rose. “It was still a super rad experience and I was stoked to help the team out in any way possible.” 

Even with a limited roster, the team had a few victories with Yang making it to the quarterfinals, O’Keefe claiming another first-place win in the men’s shortboard division and the team placing second overall, just 3 points behind Saddleback. 

What’s next for the team:

The final event for the PLNU Surf Team is the NSSA National Championships which is set to be on June 14-16 at Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point.

“I’ve made finals the past few years and would love to keep that streak going,” said Kennedy Hurley, a fourth-year business administration major. 

This event is the last chance for the longboard and women’s shortboard teams to take a stab at placing in the finals as well as a test to see if the team can claim their first solo victory of the season and hold on to the national title it received during the 2022-2023 season. 

“Our goals remain the same,” said Piper. “The team wants to win heats, win divisions and hopefully win another national title.”