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Surfest: Kaleigh Gilchrist, Nolan Rapoza win wildcards into World Surf League Qualifying Seriesvideo, photos

Rio gold medallist wins Surfest wildcard | video, photos Kaleigh Gilchrist at Merewether on Sunday. Picture: Gary Luke
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Kaleigh Gilchrist, left, after winning the Olympic final against Italy in Rio. Picture: Getty Images

Nolan Rapoza wins the trials final on Sunday at Merewether. Picture: Paul Danovaro

Nolan Rapoza wins through the Surfest trials. Picture: Gary Luke

TweetFacebookUSA Rio Olympics gold medallist @KGilchrist15 after winning @surfest trials. @[email protected]成都夜总会招聘/mUvwCg80aX

— Michael Parris (@mhparris) February 19, 2017

“It feels good. I had an opportunity on that right with, like, three minutes left –I had priority –and I fell, and I was like, ‘Oh, man, I just blew it.’ But luckily that little right came in and I was able to grind it out for a five, so I’m stoked,” she said.

Gilchrist will line up in the main draw of the 6000-point Qualifying Series event on Monday. She made the fourth round two years ago when she was still training for water polo.

“A couple of years ago I got a decent result, but I’ve taken some time off of surfing for water polo and Olympics and all that, so I definitely don’t have a seed.

“It’s good to get in the main draw. I’m here to mix with the big girls.”

Meanwhile, fellow Californian Nolan Rapoza, the 2016 North America Pro Junior series champion, showed his potential with victory in the men’s trials.

The 19-year-old from Long Beach will enter the main draw of the Surfest Men’s Pro on Monday after winning the wildcard final.

Rapoza is 28th on the 2017 World Surf League Qualifying Series rankings after graduating fromjuniors at the start of the year.

The goofy-footerlost in the first round at last year’s Surfest trials but now has a chance to climb the rankings in the first 6000-point QS event of the season.

“I feel really good. It was kind of stormy, windy, like wind chop, but, you know,it’s still fun,” Rapoza said.

“There’s definitely some good waves out there. Last year it was a lot harder than this. I’m glad to do well in it.”

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