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The World Surf League (WSL) Vans Pro Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 crowned Evan Geiselman (USA) its 2016 champion after making his way through an incredible field of competitors. With a massive win, Geiselman now moves to No. 6 on the QS Rankings with a lot of momentum heading into an all-important European leg. Earning the Vans Pro Junior title and his first-ever Junior Tour victory, Nolan Rapoza (USA) got his long awaited chair up the beach in a WSL competition and now sits atop the North America Junior Tour Ratings.

Taking out two former Vans Pro champions, Michael Dunphy (USA) and Pat Gudauskas (USA), along with an in-form Samuel Pupo (BRA), the New Smyrna Beach, Fla., surfer started off the heat with a 6.17 and 6.33 (out of a possible 10) and got off to a solid lead. With the competitors keeping up throughout the heat, Geiselman notched away two excellent scoring rides, meaning they were between an 8.00 – 10, on his final two rides to secure his second massive win of 2016.

Nolan Rapoza

Photo of Nolan Rapoza during his session.

“Just to be on the East Coast and have this event as the only one with some prestige over here it feels great to win,” Geiselman said. “A lot of great surfers have won this thing and I was just in a heat with two of them so I’m just so stoked. This is another big result for me and my goal this year was just to stay consistent. I was really bummed when those primes came and I didn’t do as well as I wanted to — it’s just the ups and downs of this year have been pretty hectic.”

Geiselman joins a number of surfers from the Vans Pro Men’s QS3,000 heading straight into the string of European events that will begin to define who will qualify for next year’s Samsung Galaxy Men’s Championship Tour.

“I feel great heading over there, I just love Europe after some good results there last year and just want to keep surfing well,” Geiselman added. “As long as I’m doing that I’m happy and the scores will speak for themselves. I’ve just tried to stay positive and I’ve been excited for every opportunity I can get so now it’s time to go to Europe and just keep making heats.”

Joining Geiselman on a quest for a massive result in Europe, runner-up Michael Dunphy (USA) represented his hometown of Virginia Beach, Va. with pride and made it back to a Final after a tough start to this year. The 2014 Vans Pro champion was on a slow start to the Final but turned the heat around and clinched 2,225 valuable points.

“Making a final here felt so great with just a really bad run of results over the last year so now I’ve got some momentum,” Dunphy said. “This was a great event that got some solid waves all week so that was great. These events are stacked and it makes for no easy heats. Just with guys like Pat who I’ve looked up to since surfing as a kid is really cool to be competing against. I would’ve loved to get a win here at home and really get a boost heading out for the next leg but this is still good for my confidence and I’ll just build from here.”

A career bookmark was notched by Nolan Rapoza (USA) winning his first-ever Junior Tour event in defining fashion. Taking out an international field of Junior competitors including QS standouts Griffin Colapinto (USA) and Samuel Pupo (BRA), as well as Yuji Nishi (JPN), the Long Beach, Ca. native now sits at No. 1 on the North America Junior Tour rankings. It was no easy feat with the talent around him and the exuberance coming in from the water showcased all his efforts being rewarded at once.

“I really don’t even know how to feel right now,” Rapoza said. “I’ve wanted a win on the Junior Tour so bad and my other goal is to get on top of the Junior rankings so right now I’m there and just have to keep it going — I’m still hungry. I was so stressed out in that final and my stomach was in knots the whole time. I was wondering how much time was left because every time I end up losing it in the last few minutes even after getting in the lead at some point — it just always comes back to haunt me. It was amazing to finally just stay in the lead and come out of that one with a win.”

Runner-up Griffin Colapinto (USA) found his way into the second final of his 2016 Junior Tour year and maintains his spot at No. 3 behind Kei Kobayashi (USA). Besting Rapoza in Los Cabos on a last second wave, Colapinto had to settle for second best but made one step closer to the World Junior Championships remaining in the Top 4.

“It was a fun heat and I really wanted to win another one so definitely a little bummed but still got some good scores that I’m happy with — and it’s another final so I’m alright with that one,” Colapinto said. “There was a little more push out there today which made for better rides that we could capitalize on. It felt great to get a lot of heats in and head out with a lot of confidence but I still want to keep making more. There was a few priority situations I may have blew so just need to work on that and I’ve really just tried to do the opposite of what I’ve been doing and surf smarter heats.”

Michael Sandoval

Michael created MUSE/MUSE TV after a career in professional sports and journalism. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He attended Don Bosco Technical Institute in which he studied Electronics and Computer Science and California State University, Fullerton in which he graduated with a degree from the College of Communication in Journalism. He is a big Foo Fighters fan, loves Star Wars and loves photography.