The third stop on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series, the Oakley Pro Junior, kicked off today with current regional ratings leader Evan Geiselman leading an elite field of international ASP Pro Junior surfers. Geiselman punted massive aerials in clean two-to-three foot surf at the famous break of Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California, to post some of the day's highest scores.
Several international ASP Pro Junior standouts competing in the Oakley Pro Junior are looking to hone their competitive sets prior to entering the main event, the ASP PRIME 6.0 Lowers Pro, while the regional standouts are hungry to capitalize on the valuable ratings points towards qualification for the inaugural ASP World Junior Tour.
Gieselman relied on above-the-lip surfing to stamp his authority on the field with a variety of massive aerials on the steep Lowers lefthanders to take out a remarkable Quarterfinals heat victory over international prodigy Gabriel Medina, a Round 1 standout, and Hawaiian Granger Larsen.
"This is guaranteed the hardest Pro Junior of the year." -Evan Geiselman
"Gabriel went crazy in his first heat and I didn't really have the best opener," Geiselman said. "Then I saw that I was surfing against Gabriel and I thought, 'alright, I'm going to have to do some pretty big stuff,' and that's what I did. Luckily I kept getting those lefts and it just worked out. I knew I was going to have to do big airs if I was going to compete with those guys."
Geiselman, who is currently leading the hotbed of American talent on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series, is satisfied with his opening performance, but remains focused on the remainder of the Oakley Pro Junior to retain his No. 1 seed.
"This is guaranteed the hardest Pro Junior of the year, so I'm happy to be in the semis," Geiselman said. "I've still got another heat to try to make it through, so I need to stay focused, but I'm really happy with the way that the first day has gone."
Conner Coffin relied on striking rail-to-rail power surfing to eliminate reigning ASP Pro Junior Champion Maxime Huscenot in their Quarterfinals bout while also topping reigning ASP North America Pro Junior Series Champion Nat Young, who advanced behind Coffin in second.
"Every heat out here seems like it could be a final." -Conner Coffin
"Everyone was paddling for the first wave, and I was just hoping there would be one behind it," Coffin said of his 8-point ride. "I was just out back by myself and it was a perfect wave. I got a wave just as good as that one in the heat before and bogged, so I needed to make up for it in that heat."
Coffin's advancement into the Semifinals has been no easy task, as the powerful young Santa Barbara surfer has had to navigate through an intense field of international talent who are out to compete in both the Oakley Pro Junior as well as the 6.0 Lowers Pro.
"My first-round heat this morning was gnarly too," Coffin said. "The whole contest is so gnarly because it's a small field and all of the international juniors are here. Every heat out here seems like it could be a final, so I'm stoked to have made the Semifinals."
Kicking off tomorrow's action will be Round 1 of the 6.0 Lowers Pro competition. The Oakley Pro Junior is scheduled to resume with the Semifinal round on Saturday. To catch the action, check out nike6lowerspro.com.