Last year's No. 2 ranked North America Junior Tour competitor Alyssa Spencer found her place back at the No. 1 spot after defending her Ron Jon Vans Pro Junior Women's title. A position she held until the final event at Barbados last year, Spencer came back sending a message to her competitors that she's prepared for another trip to the World Junior Championships -- comboing the field in the Final with the event's highest heat total of 17.34.
While she remains a humble competitor, Spencer's surfing has clearly not lost any of its razor sharp edge after taking the lead from last year's Regional Champion Leilani McGonagle and not looking back. Spencer's 14th birthday fell just after her win this year, as opposed to a win on her day of celebration last year, and marks that she has five years left on the Junior Tour if she so chooses.
As opposed to the men's Junior Tour, the women only have four events to claim their best three results so anything can happen unless a competitor goes on a run and wins two events. But, even in that scenario, as we saw last year, does not quite guarantee you a spot into the Top 2 -- leaving Spencer with plenty of work ahead of her.
Taking McGonagle's runner-up spot from last year, Samantha Sibley showed she's returned to the Junior Tour season with plenty of spark. Sibley joins Spencer with a timely birthday and can represent herself on the Junior Tour for five more years if she desires. The San Clemente, California surfer comes from a surfing town and is no real surprise to see her offseason work pay off toward a big result early on in the year.
Sibley slowly gained traction in last year's season that culminated in her first Final at the Soup Bowl Pro Junior and has now made back-to-back Finals in that regard. With nothing but time on her side, Sibley is still set to enjoy her time in the competitive surfing world for a few mores -- though it's not stopping her from keeping big ambitions.
Fellow San Clemente-native Kirra Pinkerton made her statement last year that she's going to be a force in coming years with big performances on the QS stage. Though her Junior Tour results weren't quite what she wanted, only making xx Finals, the 15-year-old is still learning each event and making her that much more deadly.
With a new regiment intact, Pinkerton's push for a spot into the World Junior Championships has that much more bearing, but she will need to find herself atop the podium at least once this year to ensure that goal.
2016 North America Regional Junior Champion Leilani McGonagle settled for a fourth-place position at the Ron Jon Vans Pro Junior after both Pinkerton and Sibley earned late scoring waves to move ahead. But, the Costa Rican will expect more of herself this year with hopes of defending her title and returning to the World Junior Championships.
The eldest of these four, McGonagle will age out of the Junior Tour at the end of this year and begin her QS career -- all the more reason her competitors have reason to not turn a blind eye to the 17-year-old.