Heavy implications were on the line for finals day at the men's Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia and Crosby Colapinto rose to the occasion for a brilliant win. Soup Bowl was fickle once more, offering scoring potential throughout the day when the forecast swell began trickling in but competitors had to read its tricky lineup well and Colapinto did just that.
Colapinto: "It Means So Much To Win This Event in Honor of Zander"
This marks Colapinto's second WSL win of 2018 and garnered him a No. 2 rank to finish the season, falling just ten points shy of No. 1 Tyler Gunter. Tiare Thompson earned her maiden WSL victory in Saturday's proceedings for the women's Live Like Zander Junior Pro, but today was a decisive for the men's Pro Junior talents amid a special contest. Colapinto couldn't have asked for a better start in hefty Final that included fellow San Clemente, California, natives Kade Matson and Jett Schilling alongside an in-form Alan Cleland -- earning a near-perfect 9.33.
"It's the best feeling and it means so much to win this event in honor of Zander," Colapinto said. "He was such a good kid and to win here at his home is amazing. I knew what I was coming here to do and I was fired up after losing in the Pro Am the heat before so I think that helped (laughs). That was the best start and I actually almost didn't go on it, but I'm so glad it did because the wave just kept growing as it hit the reef. I'm over the moon right now."
The 17-year-old earned a 6.57 backup midway through the heat to leave his fellow competitors needing excellent scores for a shot at catching him. Only Matson could've topped Colapinto for the No. 2 spot, but now both are heading to the World Junior Championship alongside Eithan Osborne after he made a Semifinal appearance to claim the No. 4 rank.
"Kade, Jett, and I, and all the San Clemente boys are so supportive of each other and we're like brothers so that was really cool to share that Final with them," Colapinto added. "It's definitely a bonus to win it and wish I'd done better at a few of the other events, but I'll take two wins all day. Now with Kade and Cole both in we're all going to travel together and can't wait to finish off the year there."
Matson's Second Near Miss Gets the Job Done
Matson finished off his 2018 regional season with a third Finals appearance and second runner-up . The 16-year-old secured his spot to Worlds after making it into the Semifinals and with all the pressure off, nearly made a push toward a maiden victory. But, Matson now moves into Worlds with plenty of momentum and confidence, as well as a fresh outlook for next season.
"I'm psyched after making that Semifinal and knowing we'd all made it to Worlds so I just went out there to have fun," Matson. "It's some of my best friends in the Finals and we're going to Taiwan, it's the best thing ever -- what else could you ask for. This is the best wave we have on our tour and I love finishing our season here, as well as finish off with a good result."
Notable and Quotable: Cleland and Schilling Shakeup Finals Day
It was a noteworthy finish for third-place Cleland, making his second Final of 2018 on a bad right knee after the Vans US Open earlier this year, and fourth-place Schilling earning his first-ever Final's appearance as both have multiple years in the Pro Junior Tour remaining. The duo nearly helped Bo Raynor lock in the No. 4 spot after eliminating Osborne and No. 5 Cole Houshmand, but Raynor's loss in the Semifinals witnessed him drop to No. 6 behind Houshmand.
"I wish I could've won but my knee wouldn't let me do it and I'm still happy with the way I surfed this week," Cleland said. "It's great to get a good result to finish the year and I'll head back to California for a while, start getting the rehab going, and come back ready for next year. My goal is definitely to get into that Top 4 next year and I'm feeling good about making it happen."
"It feels really good to make a Final and wish I'd done Newport and a few other competitions now for a shot at Worlds, but I had a lot of fun this year," Schilling said. "I'll have a good seeding for next season and I'm looking forward to doing a full year."
The World Junior Championships will run December 1 - 9 at Jinzun Harbor, Taiwan featuring the seven region's top competitors for a chance at winning a World Junior Title.