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Thursday, January 28, 2010
Updated: June 15, 11:00 AM ET
The Kids Are Alright


Accented by a near perfec heat score of 19.90 in the final at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships, Gabriel Mendina won the Under 18 division and asserted himself as one of the world's premier gremlins.

Yesterday as Team Australia rode to gold for the fifth consecutive year, World Junior Championship season officially concluded. The Aussies have utterly dominated the ISA event, and even with America and Hawaii's stacked squads, there was no letting up in Auckland.

"A day or so ago it was looking like Hawaii and the USA were in the box seat. But our surfers had to make finals in the end and they did," stated Aussie coach Martin Dunn, who also happens to be world tour stalwart Ben Dunn's old man. "The reality is that our surfers are experienced and don't fault under pressure. And that's what gave us the points to win the overall teams title."

Intriguing indeed. But maybe what was most interesting was the host of talent that accumulated in the various finals. Tahiti, Japan, Brazil, America, Hawaii, all were dutifully represented in the highly contestable three-foot peaks of Piha.

The most notable performer among them all had to have been Maresias, Brazil's Gabriel Mendina, who notched up a 19.90 combined heat score to run away with the Boys Under 18 division. It was just a couple of weeks ago that he took third at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships in Narrabeen, and now to jump across the pond and win this event definitely says a lot about where he's at and where he's going in his career. We're going to be seeing a lot more of Mendina in the years to come, no doubt.

This makes it five gold medals in five years for Team Australia.

And somebody else that we're going to be seeing a lot more of is young Tyler Wright. Little sis to tour rookie Owen Wright, Tyler is now the only other person besides Stephanie Gilmore to win back-to-back ISA golds. "I'm lost for words," she said. "I can't say much more. I'm one of the happiest kids ever."

And finally, rounding out the podium was Matt Banting from Port Macquarie, New South Wales. Taking gold in the Under 16 division, Banting was able to stave off upstart American Jake Halstead and Hawaiian personality Koa Smith in the tightest, most competitive final of the day.

"What a day, what a week," said ISA President Fernando Aguerre after he'd hung all the hardware around Team Australia's necks. "It was an amazing week of surfing with New Zealand warmth. But most importantly, it was about the surfing camaraderie. The ISA World Surfing tribe came together to celebrate surfing and junior surfing. This event will go down in history as one of the greatest ever!"
Following in the footsteps of her big brother Owen, Tyler Wright is making quite a name for herself out there in the great, wide world of surfing.
Matt Banting took the gold in the Under 16 division, he's future ain't lookin' so bad either.
Jake who? Jake Halstead. Yeah, we hadn't heard much of him either until he rolled down to New Zealand and took second in the ridiculously competitive Under 16 division.
We told you before all this started, watch out for Lakey Peterson. The girl lived up to our claim, and coming in forth, was the highest placing American girl.
Kolohe Andino may not have gotten the result he wanted, but at least he looked good.