Matson and Simmers Complete Dominant Runs in 2019
The next generation of North America competitors continue to shine bright and two stood apart from their fellow contingent in 2019. Simmers and Matson each solidified their spot atop the rankings in dominant fashion with one event remaining and completed a third-straight Southern California sweep of the Pro Junior titles.
This marked a breakthrough year for Matson, 17, after earning two Finals appearances last season that fell just short. The San Clemente native left nothing to chance this year and showcased his off-season work that paid dividends with a masterful win at the Ron Jon Quiksilver Junior Pro in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Matson then took that confidence and carried it directly into Huntington Beach, California, for an incredible Vans US Open of Surfing victory to solidify himself as the one to beat. A slight stumble in Virginia Beach, Virginia, for a Semifinal result sparked the flame heading into the RVCA Pro Junior and his runner-up finish was enough to claim his first Regional Pro Junior Title.
"This was definitely my best year competing from my first Pro Junior win to being in a CT, it's been crazy," Matson said. "And I also had my first real injury which overall led to better things so I had a lot going on. I think my biggest moment was the US Open win because I had a really hard injury before and wasn't sure if I would compete. That gave me a lot of confidence coming back from that injury. I kind of knew what I needed to do in Newport but I wasn't thinking too much on it, just surfing my own contest and trying to do my best. Being able to compete in the Vans US Open next year is a huge opportunity as my first QS 10,000 and hopefully I can make some heats."
Matson's year was also highlighted with his first CT wildcard at the Freshwater Pro presented by Outerknown alongside fellow Pro Junior standouts, and San Clemente competitors, No. 2 Jett Schilling and No. 4 Crosby Colapinto. The 17-year-old now prepares for the Oaxaca Pro QS 1,500 presented by Corona to carry this momentum into the QS.
Oceanside, California, has a new Regional Title courtesy of Simmers after a remarkable breakout year. The 13-year-old notched three Finals in her first full season on the Pro Junior Tour, winning two of three and earning a third-place to finish her run. Simmers' first win at the Ron Jon Roxy Junior Pro put her competitors on notice that she was bringing her amateur success to the WSL. But, a victory at the Vans US Open of Surfing brought that notice to the world as she stole the win in the dying seconds over former North America Regional Pro Junior titleholder Alyssa Spencer (USA). Finally, the Californian completed another California sweep of the Regional Titles with a third-place finish in Newport Beach and now prepares for a momentous event at the WSL Junior Championships later this year.
"At the beginning of the year I never thought I would get the title and I'm super excited to get to go to Taiwan," Simmers said. "It's somewhere I've never been and I love to travel and surf different waves. Making the consecutive finals gives me confidence and momentum towards worlds - especially the US Open win since there were a lot of competitors from other regions. I wasn't keeping up with what I needed going to Newport Beach and was just going with it. But the RVCA contest was probably the best moment this year because the surf was so fun and I got barreled during the free surfs."
Simmers was a part of the major women's Rising Tide movement at both the Vans US Open of Surfing and Freshwater Pro that inspires young women like herself to get in the water and empower them. Now, both Simmers and Matson await to see who will join them in Taiwan beginning November 26 - December 1.
Joining Matson and Simmers to contest among the world's best juniors include more of the region's top contenders after the season concluded on the shores of Bathsheba, Barbados, for the Live Like Zander Junior Pro. Jett Schilling and Alan Cleland finished No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, as Sawyer Lindblad completed her WSL rookie season at No. 2.
The WSL Junior Championships will begin November 26 - December 1 at Jinzun Harbour, Taiwan.
Kade Matson's Counting Results:
Ron Jon Quiksilver Junior Pro - 1st Place 1,000 points
Vans US Open of Surfing - 1st Place 1,000 points
Vans Pro - 5th Place 420 points
RVCA Pro Junior - 2nd Place 750 points
Caitlin Simmers Counting Results:
Ron Jon Roxy Junior Pro - 1st Place 1,000 points
Vans US Open of Surfing - 1st place 1,000 points
RVCA Pro Junior - 3rd Place 560 points