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Young Guns Learn the Cocoa Beach Grind

Competitors who know the history of the seventh annual Ron Jon Quiksilver Junior Pro know to come prepared for any conditions. An inviting windswell can change drastically within just a few hours, but those that can handle the ability to accommodate the change excel.

Such was the case today as competition powered through Rounds 2 and 3 where top seeds made their debuts to determine Quarterfinalists -- narrowing the field down to the 16. For competitors that may have fell out of the men's Qualifying Series (QS) 1,500-level event, it was a second chance to chase opportunity.

Kade Matson's Redemption Song

Kade Matson (USA) winning his Round 3 heat at the Ron Jon Quiksilver Junior Pro. An early exit in the QS provided a second chance in the Pro Juniors and Matson made it count. WSL / Andrew Nichols

The 16-year-old had to put his loss from the QS earlier in the morning aside and show up once more for his junior debut. The Matson showed no signs of a loss affecting him and blasted a 15.85 heat total, dominating the Round 3 affair. Matson finished last year with two runner-ups to his name and is looking to break through to the top of a podium in 2019.

"There was more wave in that heat and just catch a lot and just actually surf," Matson said. "My last heat I didn't get a lot of opportunities. It helps to start with a good score and keep that momentum. It gave me some confidence knowing I could drop those scores on some smaller waves. The loss got me a little more fired up and I just said I'm going to have fun and do my surfing."

William Hedleston: Cocoa Beach's Own

William Hedleston The 15-year-old pushed his way through two, vital heats for a spot into the Quarters. WSL / Andrew Nichols

William Hedleston represented for his hometown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, with an impressive showing after making it through both Round 2 and 3 today in the tough conditions. The newly turned 15-year-old continues growing into his surfing each year and showcased his power today with a 7.75 in his scoreline, along with a 14.60 heat total. Though, Hedleston's local knowledge isn't something he relies on heavily while competing at Alan Shepard Park.

"You just have to find that right peak, but the sand changes here all the time and I usually surf a little down the beach or by the pier," Hedleston said. "This event is so fun because you have all the QS guys here and I don't have this urge of ‘I have to win' but I definitely want to. It's just fun surfing against all the better competitors, it raises your level of competing as well and that's really helpful."

Tommy Coleman (USA) winning his Round 2 heat at the Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro. Hedleston is not alone in Floridian comradery with the likes of Tommy Coleman posing a threat to the event once more. WSL / John Ferguson

Floridians Tommy Coleman, Blake Speir, and Ryan Huckabee join Hedleston to secure the event win on their home turf for the first time.

Read more about how true grit played a huge factor in the Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro QS 1,500.

A 7:30 a.m. EDT call will determine a possible start to early the men's Junior Pro or Ron Jon Roxy Junior Pro.

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