Hawaii's top juniors seek ASP World titles
Eleven of Hawai'i's top young surfers will begin competing for a world junior title in Australia this weekend.
The Billabong ASP World Junior Championships is scheduled to run Saturday through Jan. 17 at North Narrabeen, Australia.
The event is considered the world championship for surfers age 20 and younger.
Maui's Kai Barger won the junior men's world title last year. He was eligible to defend his championship this year, but opted not to enter.
In his absence, seven other Hawai'i surfers qualified to compete for this year's junior men's championship.
The Hawai'i group features three from Maui (Granger Larsen, Albee Layer and Clay Marzo), two from O'ahu (Keanu Asing and Kiron Jabour), Kaua'i's Sebastien Zietz, and the Big Island's Tonino Benson.
Only 48 surfers can qualify for the contest. Hawai'i has four of the top 12 seeds: Zietz is No. 4, Larsen is No. 8, Benson is No. 10, and Jabour is No. 11.
Brazil's Jadson Andre is the top seed.
The junior women's field features four surfers from Hawai'i — Kaua'i surfers Bethany Hamilton, Leila Hurst and Malia Manuel, and Wai'anae's Alessa Quizon.
Hamilton, the shark-attack survivor, is the No. 2 seed in the field of 18. She placed second at last year's contest.
FROM AUSTRALIA TO NEW ZEALAND
Several of the Hawai'i surfers will go directly from Australia to New Zealand to compete in another prestigious contest later this month.
The ISA World Junior Surfing Championship is scheduled for Jan. 20-28 at Piha, Auckland, New Zealand.
That contest is for surfers age 18 and younger, and follows a team format.
The Verizon Wireless Hawai'i Junior World Team has 13 surfers on its roster.
Hawai'i surfers in the Boys 18 division are Keanu Asing, Kaimana Jaquias, Ezekiel Lau, Tanner Hendrickson and Nathan Carvalho.
Representing Hawai'i in the Boys 16 division are Koa Smith, Ian Gentil, Cain Daley and Isaiah Moniz.
Representing Hawai'i in the Girls 18 division are Leila Hurst, Malia Manuel, Nage Melamed and Alessa Quizon.
Hawai'i placed second in the team standings last year, behind Australia.
Asing won the Boys 16 individual title last year, and is moving up to the Boys 18 division this year.