The 5th annual College Wakeboard Championships went down April 3-6 for the third year in a row at beautiful Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada. Nine teams from around the nation made their way out with hopes to call themselves the 2014 College Wakeboard National Champions by the end of the weekend.
The past two victors were in attendance; Chico State, the 2012 champions, who wanted to get their title back after a rebuilding year, and Arizona State, the 2013 champions, who were determined to be the first-ever back to back national champs. The other teams were Florida State, Georgia, Sacramento State, Baylor, Rollins, Texas A&M and Wake Forest. These seven teams were all out to win for their schools first time ever.
The competition format was an eight-team bracket style, single elimination, winner takes all format. Each team was allowed to bring their top seven male riders and their top female rider to compete. At the end of each head to head heat the male riders were place 1st to 14th and the female riders were placed 1st to 2nd.
Since there were nine teams, the two lowest seeds, #8 Wake Forest and #9 Texas A&M, had to face off in a preliminary round to see who would receive the final spot to face defending champs Arizona State. Wake Forest was lead by star rider and president Ryan Barbalace who threw together a very solid run to give his team hope for a first round victory. But when it came down to it, Texas A&M was too deep in riders. Hayden McEntire threw together a perfect run landing multiple 5’s, a whirlybird and a crow mobe. Spencer Thames, Jordan Dunn and Kyle Aubuchon also had very solid runs right behind him. These four riders finished in the top four spots at the end of their heat, which gave them a huge advantage and sent them into the next round with ease.
Arizona State was not expecting to have to face a team this good in the quarterfinals. They knew it was going to be a dogfight and a dogfight it was. The riding in this heat was awesome; every rider was throwing down hard. Hayden McEntire took the top spot again, proving that he is not only a good rider, but also a consistent one. Wake Devil’s Ryan Platt and RJ Pabon finished close behind him, both throwing down well-rounded runs with numerous grabbed spins, inverts and Raley-based tricks. Directly behind them was A&M’s Jordan Dunn who was going huge with a sick poked out tail glide. However, Hayden and Jordan were not enough to hold down the rest of Arizona State with the Wake Devils finishing 5th -8th solidifying their win.
#4 Ranked Chico State and #5 ranked Baylor was a good matchup from the very beginning and it definitely did not disappoint. Chico was determined to get back on top of the podium and Baylor brought their best wakeboard team in school history. Both teams were matched pretty evenly throughout the heat, but Baylor Wake’s shredder freshman, Marshal Lewis, was the deciding factor to take down Daniel Rueger, Taylor Fredrickson and the rest of Chico State.
The two Florida schools also had to face off in the quarterfinals; #2 ranked Florida State and #7 ranked Rollins. FSU brought their two star riders, Hunter Drury and Logan Farris, who absolutely killed it as expected. Everyone knew Rollins had Damien Adam, the top collegiate rider in the nation, who threw down a professional style comp run that no one could compete against. But something happened from Rollins that no one expected at all; the rest of their team absolutely threw down. Everyone remembered them from last year as a team that came to nationals just to come. This year was different. Rollins came with a whole new mission and showed they meant business taking out one of the favorites, Florida State, in the quarterfinals.
The last quarterfinal matchup was #3 ranked Georgia versus #6 ranked Sacramento State. No one really knew what was going to occur in this matchup. The only fact people had to go off of was Georgia has never made it past the first round and Sacramento State had never lost in the first round. Unfortunately for Georgia, top riders Pate Duddleston and Brain Davidson were not able to help change the times, falling to Sac State in the quarters.
A lot of exciting riding went down in the quarter from upsets to last second victories and the semis were sure to be even more thrilling. The first matchup was #6 ranked Sacramento State versus #7 ranked Rollins. This matchup started slow, looking like the first few riders were struggling from the night before, but as the competition went on the riding improved. The riders definitely started to realize what was on the line and both teams started to step up their riding. Sac State rider Drew Glickman threw down one of the best runs seen by him in a while stomping multiple inverts, spins and then landing a clean tantrum to blind on his last trick, which really pumped up the rest of his team. It certainly helped teammates Ben Hernstedt and Broc Schall get motivated and ready to ride. Ben landed 14 big tricks without falling, while most people were only getting 8 to 10. And Broc also threw down one of his best comp runs ever. But, would it be enough to beat the new and improved Rollins wake team?
Damien Adam threw down another phenomenal run, but one rider will not win this team competition. The rest of the team would need to step up again and that they did. President George Doubs helped out Rollins by landing multiple grabbed spins, inverts and a nice whirlybird to show why they belong in the finals. Alex Wright and Connor Kostyra also threw down some very consistent and skilled riding for Rollins. When the heat was complete, it took a lot longer than any other heat to determine the winner because the riding was extremely close. When the points were finally all tallied up Rollins was determined the winner, which proved to everyone that they are the real deal.
#1 Ranked Arizona State and #5 ranked Baylor were up next to see which would face Rollins in the finals. ASU felt pretty confident until their top rider, Ryan Platt, went first off the dock and fell halfway through his run. That made the Wake Devils very nervous because they knew Baylor had a good team through Marshal Lewis, Regan Strickland and Dakota Park. This was a test for the Wake Devils to see how good they really were without their star rider. They had no problem working under this pressure. Robert Skousen, Dallen Sullivan, R.J. Pabon and Stoph Cusick were all able to throw down landing multiple 540s, grabbed inverts, glides and whirlybirds to show that they are a well-rounded team.
This heat really came down to the female riders where Wake Devil’s Chelsea Clark took on Baylor’s Victoria Broussard. They were both solid, but when it came down to it Chelsea proved why she was the Collegiate Wake Series female rider of the year. She stuck multiple grabbed 180s, a back roll and a front roll to help secure her team that last spot in the College Wakeboard Championships final.
The finals would not be the first time Rollins would take on Arizona State. They faced in the first round last year when Arizona State knocked Rollins off in the very beginning of Rollins first College Wakeboard Championships appearance. This year, Arizona State was hoping to knock Rollins out again and claim Collegiate Wakeboarding’s first ever back-to-back championships. Rollins was looking for something a little bit different, which was sweet revenge. Both teams wanted the win badly making the competition fierce.
Having been in this position before, ASU knew the feeling and came out throwing bangers with little trouble at all. The whole team was as consistent as they had been the whole competition, which would be really tough for Rollins to compete with. Damien Adam came out for Rollins again and amazed everyone by ending his run with a whirlybird 540 like it was nothing at all. The rest of the team had some troubles with some unfortunate falls and needed the mistakes to be at a minimum to beat the consistency of the Wake Devils. That consistency allowed the Arizona State Wake Devils to do what no team has done before, which was to become the first ever back-to-back College Wakeboard Champions.
The 2014 Championship Arizona State Wake Devil Team:
• Male Wakeboarders: Ryan Platt, R.J. Pabon, Robert Skousen, Dallen Sullivan, Stoph Cusick and Andrew Shrank
• Wakeskater: Cole Kraiss
• Female Wakeboarder: Chelsea Clark.
The Arizona State Wake Devils would love to make next year their third National Championship win in a row, but losing Ryan Platt, Robert Skousen and Chelsea Clark to graduation will not make it an easy task at all. Also, the other teams will make it extremely tough. Rollins and Baylor will be back next year with their full teams and Texas A&M will only have lost one rider. Then there are all the other teams that are hungry for a championship title. Be prepared for next year’s College Wakeboard Championships because it will be just as good, if not better.
Awards that were given out:
• College Wakeboard Champions: Arizona State
• Runners up: Rollins
• College Wakeboarding Male Rider of the Year: Damien Adam (Rollins)
• College Wakeboarding Female Rider of the Year: Chelsea Clark (Arizona State)
• College Wakeboarding Wakeskater of the Year: Cole Kraiss (Arizona State)
• College Wakeboarding Presidents Awards: Ryan Platt (Arizona State)
• College Wakeboarding Team of the Year: University of Tennessee