California State University, San Marcos

06/20/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/20/2024 18:34

Surfer Makes School History With National Title

17:18 PM

Surfer Makes School History With National Title

By Brian Hiro

Tanner Vodraska rides a wave during the NSSA interscholastic national championships at Del Mar on June 16. Photo by Steve Gaffney

The academic year might be long over, but athletes at Cal State San Marcos aren't done making major waves.

The latest to do so is Tanner Vodraska, a rising junior who last weekend became the first surfer in university history to win an individual national title.

Competing in the college men's division of the 2024 National Scholastic Surfing Associationinterscholastic national championships at Salt Creek Beach in Del Mar, Vodraska dominated the field. He posted a two-wave score of 17.5 points in the final on Sunday, far outdistancing his closest competitor, Jordy Collins of Westcliff University (in Irvine) with 10.73.

"I feel really proud of myself because I set a goal to win the national title before I graduate, and I accomplished it," said Vodraska, a business student from Camarillo in Ventura County. "It's one of the biggest accomplishments in my career, and it's going to drive me to do better in other contests."

Making the feat even more satisfying, Vodraska surfed and hoisted the trophy with four CSUSM teammates in attendance, along with his father (and the final was on Father's Day). The also championship marked sweet redemption for Vodraska, who qualified for the final of the same event last summer after his freshman year but finished last in the field, nine points behind Collins and 10 behind winner Noah Kawaguchi of Point Loma Nazarene (Kawaguchi was a distant fourth this year).

Tanner Vodraska is lifted in the air by CSUSM teammates after winning a national surfing title last weekend. Photo courtesy NSSA
Tanner Vodraska hoists the trophy after becoming the first surfer in CSUSM history to win an individual national title. Photo courtesy NSSA

"I am so excited for Tanner," said Amber Puha, the faculty adviser of the surf clubsince its inception in 2002 and the chair of CSUSM's math department. "There is nothing like surfing to your full potential in an important moment like a national championship final and when the waves are firing and when your teammates and family are there to cheer you on.

"He had a difficult outing in the 2023 final. To see his confidence shine through and allow him to perform to his best capabilities makes me feel very proud of him."

Three CSUSM surfers have finished second in the national championships, most recently Chris Smith in longboard in 2007, but Vodraska is the first to bring home a trophy. The Cougars have won a pair of team titles, in 2009 and 2019.

The club was riding high after the latter championship, only to see the COVID-19 pandemic the next year halt its progress.

"For CSUSM surf, this signifies a return from the pandemic," Puha said. "Winning that team national title in 2019 and having all that excitement and momentum get brought to a grinding halt was tough."

Puha said Vodraska, and his "incredible sense of humor," contributed greatly to the surf team's strong chemistry this season, and she's looking forward to even better things in 2024-25. The club welcomes all interested students, with a particular need for women shortboarders. Tryouts will take place in mid-September.

Prospective members can email [email protected]to be added to the club's distribution list.

Media Contact

Brian Hiro, Communications Specialist

[email protected] | Office: 760-750-7306