The swell that kept giving finally began to fizzle out during Saturday's marathon day of competition. But, finals day draws are set on all fronts at the Ron Jon Quiksilver Junior Pro, Ron Jon Roxy Junior Pro, and Qualifying Series (QS) Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro events.
Deteriorating conditions made no difference to another San Clemente, California, standout by the name of Liam Murray making his mark on the junior men's proceedings. The 16-year-old dropped a near-perfect 9.00 (out of a possible 10) and topped an in-form Tyler Gunter, who advanced behind Murray, as well as Sebastian Williams and Lucas Vicente. Murray's ambitions rise each year and he's locked into his goals for 2018.
"I just waited for a good one out there, especially with those guys in my heat -- I knew it would take some really good scores to get through," Murray said. "My goal was to make the Top 20 last year since it was my first year on the juniors and now I want to stay in the Top 10.I came early to prepare for this one and ended up getting some great surfs the whole time so it paid off, and still is. If you want to make the World Junior Championship then you have to make the Final almost every event, but I'm still aiming to just get into those Quarters and Semis this year."
"Everyone talks about the older guys graduating this year and how it can make it easier, but it's honestly just as hard with all these guys ripping now," Murray added. " I'm pushing myself and working hard to get there. I usually surf better in my harder heats as well and prefer those kind of heats."
Fellow San Clemente, emerging talent Crosby Colapinto made an impact of his own on the tough lineup. Colapinto, 16, continues to sprout through his teen years and now stands a well-built competitor ready for waves of consequence. But, he's proven a threat here in Cocoa Beach as well as he prepares for a full tour schedule ahead of him.
"It feels good to make it into the Semis to start the year after I made it to Quarters here last year," Colapinto said. "I got injured and just trained a bunch, and gained a lot more muscle -- especially in my legs so it's super nice to be growing into my surfing. I spent a good amount of time in Hawaii to start the year and it's great to have power in this power in smaller waves now, but it's also a little hard because you can sink into them at times."
Colapinto wants to follow in his brother's, Griffin Colapinto, footsteps and has the game plan in line to do just that.
"The biggest goal for me this year is to make Worlds and then hopefully start getting into those QS 6,000s and QS 10,000s," Colapinto added. "It's insane to see my brother [Griffin] qualify and now I just want to back him up, and do what he did -- that's where I see myself is on the World Tour one day. I'm definitely going to focus entirely on juniors this year and then start to look at building the QS experience next year."
Sunday's finals day is locked in and a victor will be determined by day's end in Cocoa Beach.