"Last year really was a milestone for me — winning the contest which was always a major goal of mine," said the 17-year-old who last July wrestled the Women's title away from defending champion Malia Manuel of Hawaii.
Conlogue, a recent graduate of Sage Hill School who has started her general course studies at Orange Coast College, is ranked ninth in the Women's World Qualifying Series. She'll compete in both the six-star, $60,000 U.S. Open Women's Pro — which carries a record first-place prize of $20,000 (Conlogue received $10,000 for last year's win), and the $10,000 U.S. Open Women Junior Pro grade-four event.
She starts the Women's Pro in the round of 48. Last year, she had to work her way up to the title out of the round of 64.
Conlogue is seeded second in a Junior Pro division that has Huntington Beach's Sara Taylor as the No. 13-seed. She opens the Junior Pro on Saturday and will first surf in the Women's Pro round of 48 on Monday.
"The U.S. Open was the biggest contest I had ever seen when I was younger," Conlogue said. "It's something I always wanted to conquer in my hometown, my own backyard. It was thrilling to win it last year, and my goal is to win it again."
A day after Conlogue reached the pinnacle, it was Brett Simpson's turn to climb to the top.
He became the first "local" to win the Men's Pro title.
"For me, it was a great accomplishment to win it on my home break," he said. "It's not Pipeline, or J-Bay (Jefferies Bay), it's the U.S. Open. I grew up watching this contest, wanting one day to be a part of this huge event. It seemed unreal when I won."
The 25-year-old pocketed a record $100,000 for winning last year's event, but it wasn't the only thing he earned.