NewsSoup Bowl Pro JuniorBethany Zelasko

Women's Action Unfolds at Soup Bowl Pro Junior

Soup Bowl lineup The wave of Soup Bowl provided the canvas for all the Pro Junior Women's action that will ultimately determine the final spot for the World Junior Championships. WSL / Andrew Nichols

Following the final horn of men's Round 1, the Soup Bowl Pro Junior Women's event was underway and important match-ups were spread across the early goings. Moving quickly into the Quarterfinals, World Junior Championships implications began to unfold and four contenders still remain in the hunt for the No. 2 spot currently held by Leilani McGonagle

Alyssa Spencer (USA) earning third-place in her Quarterfinal heat at the Soup Bowl Pro Junior With the early exit of the current No. 1 Alyssa Spencer (pictured), McGonagle can take the title for her own with a win. WSL / Andrew Nichols

One of those potential threats is Maddie Peterson after her Quarterfinal debut win. Peterson got to work right away and continued building her score line until finding an excellent 8.50 on a picturesque Soup Bowl gem. But, Peterson still has plenty of work in front of her to catch McGonagle -- needing to win if the Costa Rican earns fourth place or better.

"I was just trying to get in a good rhythm and was actually nervous the entire heat, but after getting a good one I just took a deep breath to relax myself," Peterson said. "Out here you can get waves one heat and not the next so it's all about learning to transition from Plan A to Plan B -- this is my fourth time here and I'm still learning that. But once you get those higher scores, and you know you can do it -- then when you get further in and even the Finals, you're capable of posting those numbers."

Maddie Peterson winning her Quarterfinal heat at the Soup Bowl Pro Junior Peterson's third-place finish last year set her up with a top seed in this year's event -- something she did not let go to waste. WSL / Lucas Murnaghan

Tiare Thompson is on her way to bettering her best result of an Equal 7th on the Junior Tour this year. Thompson took a big Quarterfinal win over current No. 1 ranked Alyssa Spencer, Rachel Presti, and local Bajan Gabriella Gittens.

"That was really fun, I got some really good ones even though it was a little gnarly out there being such a tricky wave," Thompson said. "It was good to get my fins loose on a few and I'm just thankful for that heat. Getting the pass through Round 1 was really important so I could relax and study the heats before mine. I got it done and that's what matters for me so now I'm going to go out and do it again in the Semis."

Tiare Thompson (USA) winning her Quarterfinal heat at the Soup Bowl Pro Junior Thompson comes in with an outside chance to earn that coveted No. 2 spot -- but will need a win and all those in front of her to fall out in the Semifinals. WSL / Andrew Nichols

All of the competitors are gunning for the No. 2 spot currently held by Leilani McGonagle, who's shown up to Barbados in solid form with a Quarterfinal win. But, the Costa Rican can't quite celebrate yet, needing a win to truly solidify her place into World Junior Championships -- a task she has her eyes locked in on.

"It would be great if I could make it to the Final and start to close the door on some of the girls, but this wave can be really tricky so it won't be easy," McGonagle said. "I feel like it's even a little bit of an advantage for the forehanders since they can see some of the flat spots more quickly than the goofy-footers. I feel I could've surfed better in that heat, or I could've at least picked better waves, so there's still more to work on. So I just hope I can suck it up and do really well tomorrow and find myself in Worlds."

Leilani McGonagle (CRI) winning her Quarterfinal heat at the Soup Bowl Pro Junior McGonagle's backhand has proved dangerous at righthand pointbreaks in the past and will look to unleash more of the same here at Soup Bowl. WSL / Andrew Nichols

Fellow backhander Bethany Zelasko remains one of McGonagle's main oppositions with a big Quarterfinal win, but will need to earn a place into the Final in order to keep her hopes alive. Zelasko found some Soup Bowl gems in her two heats of competition to earn a Semifinal appearance and found her footing among the tricky Bajan lineup.

"It's amazing to make it into the Semis, I've just been putting so much prayer into this and I'm just so relieved to make it," Zelasko said. "This wave is so difficult to read and even during the freesurfs earlier this week it was a lot easier, but you have to be able to surf it all for sure. If you're not in the right spot you won't get the waves you need -- positioning is probably the most important part of this wave next to knowing what it might do."

Bethany Zelasko (USA) winning her Quarterfinal heat at the Soup Bowl Pro Junior This has been Zelasko's first full-year attempt at the Junior Tour and it's yielded her a chance to qualify for Worlds. WSL / Andrew Nichols
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