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By Jake Howard

A $2,000 payday is a good one any day of the week. Just ask Keegan Bengelsdorf. The 17-year-old just made that for busting one air at the Surfing Santa contest at Salt Creek. The contest, which took place on Nov. 23-24, is an annual charity event that benefits Surfers Healing, a group that helps autistic kids around the country enjoy the healing and therapeutic powers of surfing.

Living in San Clemente, Bengelsdorf is a junior at San Juan Hills High and a distinguished member of the school’s surf team. Obviously, he is well-accomplished when it comes to above-the-lip surfing. You can usually find him ripping apart peaks at Church, where the goofy-footer revels in the uncrowded, against-the-grain lefts.

“The challenge to always improve and the opportunity to get out and try something new is huge,” Bengelsdorfsaid about what inspires him to surf. “Try to get better every day. Plus, being in the ocean every day is so peaceful.”

As far as where he’d like surfing to taking him, he’s not short on lofty aspirations.

“In the next 10 years, I hope surfing leads me around the world and eventually to a world title,” Bengelsdorfexplained.

Taking things one air at a time, he may be there sooner than he thinks.

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