World Junior Championship

Rapoza Leads North American Squad Headed to World Junior Championship

Andrew Nichols

While Nolan Rapoza claimed North America's Pro Junior title with another solid performance at the Soup Bowl Pro Junior, it came as no surprise. He had the North American region locked before his toe even hit the water in Barbados. So the bigger issue that needed solving at the final stop of the six-event season was who would would qualify for the upcoming World Junior Championship in Australia.

Nolan Rapoza (USA) .Pantin16 Nolan Rapoza claimed North America's No. 1 spot on the Pro Junior circuit in 2016. As a result, he'll be leading his regional contingent to Australia in January to compete against a global gathering of regional stars in the World Junior Championship. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

With each region sending four men and two women to compete Down Under, the Soup Bowl Pro Junior proved pivotal. In the end, local boy Che Allan pulled a huge win to make the cut. Here's a closer look at North America's Final Four on the men's side.

Nolan Rapoza
Rank:1 Points: 3,775
Hometown: Long Beach, California

Nolan Rapoza (USA) at the RVCA Pro Junior presented by Jack's Surfboards Rapoza's razor sharp focus and determination saw him rise from an early low rank all the way to the top with a phenomenal year. - WSL / Andrew Nichols

The Long Beach native took command of the North American tour by appearing in five-of-six finals. He notched his maiden victory and three runner-up finishes along the way, and is hoping to parlay that success into a World Junior Title down in Australia in January. It will be his first and last time in the event. Rapoza will be graduating to a full time QS role in 2017.

"It means a lot to claim this title because it shows me that I can be consistent if I put my mind to it," says Rapoza. "I've tried to mature my technique and heat strategy this year which I think will help me a lot more in the future."

Kei Kobayashi
Rank: 2 Points: 2,680
Hometown: San Clemente, California

Kei Kobayashi got going in the dying seconds to post a 6.70 for an advancing position into the Semifinals and a chance to keep his No. 1 spot intact. Kobayashi will be leaving the Junior Tour behind in 2017 to become a full-time QS competitor. - WSL / John W. Ferguson

Kobayashi held the No. 1 spot for the first half of the season thanks to his first-ever WSL Pro Junior win early in the season. But after a few Semifinal finishes he slipped to No. 2 heading to Barbados, and he wasn't able to catch Rapoza.

"My first WSL win was amazing," Kobayashi said. "That gave me so much confidence for every event that I could beat the best. I'm really happy I accomplished my goal of qualifying this year, so looking forward to representing my country at World Junior's this year."

Jake Marshall
Rank: 3 Points: 2,430
Hometown: Encinitas, California

Jake Marshall (USA) .Acores16 Marshall's standout performances throughout his Junior Tour career have finally paid off. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

Marshall has been touted as one of California's best up-and-comers for some time, but he struggled early in the season. Fortunately a solid second-half push, including a Finals appearance at the Vans US Open propelled him to No. 3. Marshall will also be jumping into a full time QS role in 2017, with his dad right there by his side.

"I'm super excited to have an opportunity at world's because it's a great chance to compete against all the best kids my age and see where your level is at compared to the rest of the world," he said. "I feel like my small wave surfing got a lot better which is good because a lot of the events we surf happen to be in tough waves. I love having my dad at the events because we've been doing events together for so long now. It doesn't matter if the event is a local event or a major QS it always is comforting to have him with me."

Che Allan
Rank: 4 Points: 2,290
Hometown: St. Michaels, Barbados

Che Allan (BRB) With a huge win at the last event of the season Allan earned the last slot to the World Junior Chamionship. - WSL / John W. Ferguson

It was a dream scenario for Allan coming out of the water atop the shoulders of his friends as the Soup Bowl Pro Junior Champion. The kid from St. Michaels, Barbados, needed to make the Final for a chance to qualify for the WJC and he did just that, only to find out he still had to win the whole thing to keep Chauncey Robinson at bay. The best part is he still has one year still remaining in his Junior Tour career.

"I'm so excited to go to Australia for the first time and surf against the best juniors in the world," says Allan. "It's going to be really hard but I feel mentally and physically ready after taking the win at the last event. It took a lot of ups and downs to get me to this point."

×
World Surf League
Official App
Free – Google Play
Get it