Courtesy of WSL North America
– North America’s top-tier pro juniors Come out firing
– Jake Kelley and Nolan Rapoza display their dominance in men’s qs
– Jett Schilling earns progression in both events, eliminates Jack Freestone in qs
– more information available AT WORLDSURFLEAGUE.COM
|Virginia Beach, Virginia/USA (Wednesday, August 22, 2018) – The World Surf League (WSL) Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) and Pro Junior competitors went back to work for the Vans Pro QS 3,000 and Vans Pro Junior at 1st Street Jetty in one-to-two foot, clean surf. Both events grinded through their Round 2 bouts entirely with a few of the region’s top Pro Juniors, 18-and-under, alongside upcoming QS threats posting immaculate performances once again.
A key Round 2, debut win for current North America Pro Junior No. 1 Crosby Colapinto (USA) got competition underway as Blake Speir’s (USA) last-minute heroics eliminated Japanese contender Joh Azuchi (JPN). But, it was Colapinto who took control of the affair over Azuchi midway through the heat and didn’t relinquish that top spot. The San Clemente, California, native comes into Virginia Beach with two throwaway results and has to get the job done here for a shot at retaining that position.
“I just wanted to stay busy because any wave could turn into something good out there, but it’s more peaky so it was easier to build speed,” Colapinto said. “Everyone’s surfing the same thing so it doesn’t matter when you look at it like that. It’s good doing both events because you get a lot of time in the water and can learn more about the wave. I’m really just trying to do better than a Quarterfinal and it’s crazy because everyone is wanting to make Worlds or win the (North America) series.”
But, it was fireworks in the following heat as San Clemente surfer Liam Murray (USA) dropped the event’s highest heat total so far, an insatiable 17.76 (out of a possible 20). Murray’s formidable backhand attack looked razor-sharp in the clean conditions, earning an 8.83 (out of a possible 10) and ending the heat with another excellent 8.93. The 17-year-old had unfinished business after his early exit in the Vans Pro QS 3,000 and going back to last year in the Pro Junior, but looked in tune with a decimating performance today.
“It feels good after I lost early yesterday and it fired me up, triggered me almost, to do really well today,” Murray said. “I was thinking I want to go home after yesterday, but then thought no, I’m here and I’m going to do my best. Knowing I can get scores like that gives me a lot of confidence moving forward. I got a result in Florida and then kind of shut down after that so I’m looking to get another result here, hopefully stay in that Top 10 for a shot at Worlds next year.”
Current No. 2 Eithan Osborne (USA) and No. 4 Tyler Gunter (USA) also advanced to stay on pace with the Top 4 race, but Jacob Burke (BRB) played ultimate spoiler on his final wave in Round 2 Heat 7. The Barbadian eliminated No. 3 Kade Matson (USA) by going straight from third-place to first and taking a big win, marking his first Quarterfinal appearance since this event last year.
“It’s pretty great to get some heats going even though I lost in the QS after my junior heat today,” Burke said. “I’ve had a tough start to the year and I’m just looking to hit the reset button. I’m learning to stay relaxed, stay confident, and just surf how I do in freesurfs. It’s a good feeling to come out of a heat like that and it’s great for my confidence, but it only gets harder so you just have to keep doing better.”
Chase Modelski (USA) rounded out the Pro Juniors’ competition with another upset as event threat Alan Cleland (MEX) came into Virginia Beach with a lot of momentum from his Vans US Open Final appearance.
An imposing day of early eliminations continued with the Men’s QS getting their Round 2 affairs taken care of and a handful of dominant showcases ensued.
Jake Kelley (USA) continues to stay relevant in the jersey despite taking hiatuses for his recent filming project and he came back firing on all cylinders with a near-perfect 9.33. Kelley went against the grain for his wave selection to start the heat and was rewarded greatly for it before joining the pack to finish off the heat win. The 23-year-old is always a threat when he enters the lineup and looks to keep up with competition for a chance at his breakthrough.
“I’ve just been surfing a bunch at home and working on filming and it’s been really fun,” Kelley said. “I went to Fiji and I’m stoked to put a part together soon, but I’m psyched to be back here competing. Watching it from the room I noticed there’s some pretty good waves over there and just wanted to start away from everyone. My goals are to get some points and that’s a big motivation coming to these East Coast events is to keep my seed so I can get into those competitions at the start of the year like the Volcom Pipe Pro.”
Fellow Californian and former North America Pro Junior Champion Nolan Rapoza (USA) followed suit, despite not watching heats prior, and posted a 14.90 heat total en route to his debut win. Rapoza had to overcome the likes of in-form competitors Josh Burke (BRB), Jeremy Carter (USA), and Eithan Osborne (USA), but his backhand looked to be unstoppable. It’s been a lackluster year aside from a Semifinal performance at the Jack’s Surfboards Pro, but Rapoza still finds himself ranked No. 134 with a chance to propel up the rankings if he earns a result here.
“All I could think of was to start fast because that was such a slow heat and I wanted to be the first one to catch a wave,” Rapoza said. “It would help put pressure on them as quick as possible. After I got lucky on that inside wave I wanted to back it up, but thought to sit and wait for something worthy. Then the wave of the heat came through and luckily I had priority, but that’s what got me through. I felt like I did my job today so I’m stoked.”
One of the youngest competitors in the draw made the biggest dent so far as Jett Schilling (USA), 15, took down former Championship Tour (CT) surfer Jack Freestone (AUS) in his QS debut. Schilling already earned a spot into the Quarterfinals earlier in the morning and carried that confidence into another huge win. This is only Schilling’s second showing at the Vans Pro QS 3,000 as the young San Clemente, California, surfer finds his way through the process.
“I feel really good to get this momentum going and even though the waves are small, they can be pretty fun,” Schilling said. “I used my backhand a lot more because it’s easier to whip it around for a bigger turn and can do it quick so I don’t lose any speed. It was great to compete a guy like Freestone because they’re so good and gives me some motivation. I’m just psyched to keep going and want to stay happy, hopefully get a good result, but just enjoy it.”
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An 8:30 a.m. EDT call will determine a possible 9:00 a.m. start to either the Men’s QS Round 3 or Pro Junior Quarterfinals.
Vans Pro QS 3,000 Round 2 Results:
Vans Pro QS 3,000 Round 3 Matchups:
Vans Pro Junior Round 2 Results:
Vans Pro Junior Quarterfinal Matchups:
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