- WSL / John Ferguson
- WSL / John Ferguson
(L to R): 4th Place - Colt Ward (USA), 3rd Place - Dane Mackie (BRB), Runner-up - Griffin Colapinto (USA), and Soup Bowl Pro Junior winner - Cam Richards (USA). The last time Colt Ward was on a podium, before his recent runner-up, -- the Soup Bowl Pro Junior circa 2014. - WSL / NATHANIEL HARRINGTON

Many competitors were caught in the middle of World Surf League's (WSL) Junior Tour age limit change in 2016 and, while the change was a positive one in allowing true "juniors" to shine, it left surfers such as Colt Ward on the Qualifying Series (QS) full-time at 18-years-old. It hasn't been the easiest of roads for Ward, with 248 being his highest ranking so far on the QS, but he received a breath of fresh air following his career best result earlier this month and now looks to back it up at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS 1,500.

Ward's runner-up in Cocoa Beach, Florida, marked his first-ever QS Final and has his goals set high in 2018. WSL caught up with the San Clemente, California, talent on his fresh mindset heading into another year on the grind.

Colt Ward (USA) .Pro Anglet 2017 Ward's experience has taken him around the world, such as Europe (pictured), in search of escalating his surfing. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

WSL: How do you feel after making a breakthrough at the QS level following two years of grinding away?
Colt Ward: Getting that taste of the Final and coming up one spot short definitely made me want it even more. It's given me a lot of confidence heading into the upcoming events. It's super cool to have another event in Huntington Beach. It's always a plus when you get to sleep in your own bed during an event.

The talent that's come out of San Clemente is just ridiculous. How was it growing up a surfer there?
Being from San Clemente forsure has had a huge impact on my surfing. There are so many fun waves around and it's crazy how many good surfers there are in such a little beach town. Pretty much every time you go surf there's always going to be someone in the water pushing you.

Colt Ward (USA) and Tia Blanco (USA) at the Essential Costa Rica Open Pro QS3,000 Colt Ward and Tia Blanco during the Essential Costa Rica Open QS 3,000 - WSL / Johan Pacheco

What's it like to share some great experiences around the world with your girlfriend, and fellow QS competitor, Tia Blanco?
Traveling with Tia is great. We don't get too many events together so when we do it's a treat. She keeps me in such a positive mindset and always makes the places we stay around the world feel like a home. I feel like that it is super important when you are constantly traveling and competing.

The past few years on the QS has been a lot of learning the hard way and I want to be done learning those hard lessons.

What's something you've realized and goals you've set for yourself?
The past few years on the QS has been a lot of learning the hard way and I want to be done learning those hard lessons. One of my goals was to be in the QS 10,000s by the half year cut off and if I didn't make it there, then put all my focus into the back half to get it done then. I'm going to do my best to make that happen. [Following Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro Semifinals]

Colt Ward (USA) placed 3rd in Heat 2 of Round THREE at Martinique Surf Pro 2017 Ward is no stranger to heavier waves -- on display in Martinique in 2017. - WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

Have you noticed a change in your program to make those goals happen?
I've been hanging with Nolan [Rapoza] and some of the guys, and they keep me laughing all day. It's incredible to have people around you that keep you in good spirits and I think that's been a big difference already. [Following Ron Jon Quiksilver Pro Semifinals]

Fun Ward Facts:

Age you started surfing: 6
Favorite wave: Skeleton Bay and Lowers
Biggest role model: My Dad
Favorite Championship Tour surfers: John John Florence and Jordy Smith

Watch Colt Ward and many others at the Jack's Surfboards Pro QS 1,500 will be LIVE beginning at 8:00 a.m. PDT, March 23 through 25 at Huntington Beach, California on worldsurfleague.com.

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