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Lakey tearing it up in small surf at U.S. Open

She’s entered as a wildcard in the Women’s Pro Division at the Nike U.S. Open, but Santa Barbara’s Lakey Peterson is surfing like an ace in challenging 1- to 2-foot waves at the Huntington Beach Pier.

The 16-year-old Peterson posted the highest score on Wednesday to win her heat and advance to the quarterfinals.

“It’s definitely not great out there and hopefully we have some swell coming,” said Peterson, who scored 15.50 out of 20 in beating Tyler Wright of Australia and Silvana Lima of Brazil to win the Round 3 heat. “If you get the right ones, the lefts are a lot better. It’s kind of what I was going for.”

Peterson, ranked No. 7 on the ASP Women’s World Ranking, is within striking distance of joining the elite ASP Top 17 for 2012 and her performance at the Nike US Open of Surfing marks an ideal start for the young Californian.

“It’s definitely a dream start so far,” she said. “I’ve been really focused, really on schedule and resting a lot, and I’m over the moon with excitement right now.”

Peterson started the U.S. Open on a high note, beating newly crowned ASP Women’s World Champion and defending U.S. Open champ Carissa Moore of Hawaii.

Moore is still alive in the competition as she took out her non-elimination Round 3 heat over local favorite Courtney Conlogue of Santa Ana  and Australia’s Laura Enever. She has made every final on the 2011 ASP Women’s World Title Season.

Peterson also is in the Junior Pro Women’s Division semifinals, which will be contested on Saturday.

In the Pro Men’s competition, Santa Barbara’s Bobby Martinez looked electric despite the testing conditions and took down current ASP World Title Series leader Joel Parkinson as well as former three-time U.S. Open Champion Rob Machado in his Round 1 heat.

Martinez scored 13.93 points, beating Wiggolly Dantas of Brazil (12.43), Machado (12.03) and Parkinson (10.57).

“That was a hard heat for everyone,” Martinez, 28, said. “I didn’t have a heat strategy, I saw Rob (Machado) over there on his peak, but if I think about it too much I forget what I’m doing. I’m going to go home tonight to rest and just come back tomorrow.”

Santa Barbara’s Conner Coffin is in Saturday’s semifinals of the Junior Pro Men’s Division.