LJ Country Day surf team places at state meet

Fledgling program secures first winning season

For a school so close to the ocean, it might seem natural that La Jolla Country Day would have a long established surfing team that has been churning out top surfers and winning championships for years.

The Torreys’ program, though, is a fledgling one, and it seems it wasn’t until this season that it garnered much notice. Second-year coach Chris Sexton, guiding a program he said has been around only since the early part of this decade, helped direct this year’s team to its first winning record and its first time placing in any category in the state championships.

“We just had a super young team, and it’s really satisfying to see them do so well and bring Country Day to a new level of possibility,” Sexton said.

In the state

The Torreys turned in some impressive performances at last month’s state championship meet, held in Oceanside. They placed third in the Division IV bodyboard competition, third in the D-IV boys’ shortboard event and third in the D-IV girls’ shortboard competition.

In addition, freshman Stefan Raghavan took home individual honors, placing third in the Divisions III and IV bodyboarding finals.

Overall, Sexton said he was most impressed with how a team of mostly novices dedicated themselves to the sport and improved their surfing skills so remarkably from the beginning of the season in September to the end in March.

Senior leader

Senior captain Christoph von Ruexleblen led the group, as he came into the season with a few years’ surfing experience, and Ben Cohn was another leader for the Torreys.

The team also consisted of seniors Sasha Binderow, Natasha Hollis and Mason Boxer-Capitano; juniors Cristina Planas and Teagan Boyd; sophomores Tara Roudji and Warren Wood; and freshmen Collin Miller, Nick Gatto and Raghavan. Other members included Ben Beatty, Chris Fry, Hunter Hartmann, Nick Augustine and Sam Brink.

Growing team

Sexton said that when the team first practiced at the beginning of September, it had no female surfers, no bodyboarders and no longboarders. His hopes for recruiting new members to the team for a season that stretched across all three of the traditional sports seasons weren’t high. He expected that the team had an outside chance at winning one of its five meets.

Instead, the Torreys went 3-2 for their first winning record, and turned in some impressive performances at the state championships. Sexton is hoping the team’s performance this season is a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

“If we’re able to promote what we’re doing within the school and get even more interest, then we’ll be able to build our team into something even better than it is right now,” he said.

‘Loving it’

The team had 17 members this season, many of them from coastal North County cities or Point Loma who had surfed recreationally but had never done so on a team.

Sexton said he was thrilled to be able to provide that chance for his surfers.

“We have a lot of surfers at the school,” he said. “There are kids that are really into the Southern California culture, but there are not a lot of athletic opportunities within the school systems to express that.

“They really enjoy it. They do it because they love it – not because they’re looking for some super competitive environment.”