Casco earns pair of emotional Ole wins

Eric Casco used his late friend’s inspiration to win two divisions in the Ole Longboard Classic on Saturday at Launiupoko Beach Park in Lahaina.

More than 150 surfers braved early-morning rain to compete in waist-high conditions at the 20th annual event.

Casco repeated as open men’s champion and won the Ole division for the first time. He also was second in the 30-39 age group.

Casco had driven his truck in a funeral procession for Chanse Uyeda before going to the competition. Uyeda died in a moped accident two weeks ago. He was 19.

Casco’s heat in the open men’s division had already finished when he pulled into the Launiupoko parking lot after leaving the procession. Contest officials were able to put Casco in a later heat.

“Everything was for Chanse today,” said the 32-year-old Parks and Recreation worker. “Last year he was with me at the contest.

“I coached him for football, he was always a go-getter. He would have been disappointed if I would have pulled out. Now I’m going to present this (open men’s trophy) to his parents.”

Mahealani Ah Hee repeated as open women’s champion – the 33-year-old from Kahului edged Camille Kozuki and three-time Maui Scholastic Surf champion Sierra Lerback. Each picked up a first-place vote from the judges.

“Everything felt good today,” Ah Hee said. “I knew it was going to be a good day when I woke up this morning.”

Kevin Eide won his sixth straight age-group title, and fifth in a row in the 60-and-over division.

“I make sure I do everything in my repertoire,” said the 64-year-old Lahaina resident. “You’ve got to learn how to ride small waves.”

Kekaula Campbell was second to Casco in the open men, but captured his fifth straight 30-39 title. Lerback won her second consecutive junior women’s crown.

The other champions were Ean Duryea (menehune), Nick Nunez (juniors), Travis Baptiste (junior men), Matt Pasamonte (19-29), Augustine Constantino (40-49), Glenn Fukushima (50-59) and Ashley Nielson and Luke Adolfson (tandem).