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Julian Wilson king of U.S. Open of Surfing

Australian takes down Miguel Pupo of Brazil to win men's title; 17-year-old Peterson takes women's crown.

August 05, 2012|By Mike Sciacca
(Steven Georges )

HUNTINGTON BEACH — Over the final few days of the 2012 Nike U.S. Open of Surfing, Julian Wilson earned the moniker, Comeback Kid.

The 23-year-old Aussie, ranked 10th in the world, started earning the nickname Saturday when he rallied to eliminate local favorite and two-time U.S. Open Men's champion Brett Simpson in the Men's Prime Round of 16. In the quarterfinals later that day, Wilson came back to knock off John John Florence of Hawaii. On Sunday , the name stuck for good when he hit a big wave score in the final minute of his semifinal heat, to slip past Gabriel Medina of Brazil.

Despite registering three comeback wins just to make it to Sunday's Men's final, Wilson, a native and resident of Coolum Beach, Queensland, Australia, needed no such dramatics against another Brazilian, Miguel Pupo.

Wilson grabbed the lead early in the 35-minute finals heat and went on to outscore Pupo, 17.53 to 14.76, to win the title and a $100,000 check. His victory, his first at the U.S. Open, capped a nine-day run of surfing competition at the Huntington Beach Pier.

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Less than an hour before Wilson emerged from the water with the Men's title, a battle of teen-aged titans determined the Women's crown. In the end, 17-year-old Lakey Peterson of Santa Barbara defeated 2010 U.S. Open Women's champion, 19-year-old Carissa Moore of Hawaii, 10.90 to 8.64. Peterson took home $15,000 for her win.

Also Sunday, Joel Tudor won the Pacifico Nose Riding Challenge final.

The weekend's surf action started with the Junior Pro Women's and Men's finals Saturday . Seventeen-year-old Nikki Van Dijk of Australia won the Jr. Pro Women's, and 19-year-old Conner Coffin of Santa Barbara took the Jr. Pro Men's.

It was a good weekend for the Santa Barbara-Australia connection.

"I really wanted to get a good start, and I got it," Wilson said of the Men's final, moments after he exited the water. "It was an exciting final and I'm really, really happy."

Pupo took the first two wave scores of the contest and held the edge in wave attempts over Wilson (10-7) for the heat. The 20-year-old, ranked 17th in the world and who had been undefeated at the Open prior to the final, earned wave scores of 3.00 and 4.17 on his first two attempts. Wilson, however, took command after hitting a 9.13 score on his first wave. He went on to post a 7.50 three wave scores later.

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