Eight of the top collegiate wakeboard teams from around the nation made their way out to beautiful Lake Las Vegas for the Collegiate Wakeboard Championships. Defending champs Chico State, along with other top teams from last year, Arizona State and South Florida, made their way back to try to make the title theirs. Other teams that made their way out were Collegiate Team of the year Florida State, along with University of Georgia, Sacramento State, Rollins College and Baylor. All of the teams came out with one main goal, to be named National Champions.
All of the teams arrived at Lake Las Vegas on Wednesday with riding starting on Thursday. Thursday was definitely the most weather-affected day we had, with a cold morning and winds blowing down the channel most of the day. Nevertheless, it was Nationals, so you had to be prepared for anything. The format was head-to-head bracket style with single elimination, so one bad day and your championship dreams were history until next year.
First off the dock was #3 seed Florida State vs. #6 seed Chico State, which was bound to be the best first round match up of the tournament. With the winds blowing, the riders were doing whatever they could to stomp their runs. Florida State was led by Hunter Drury, who stuck a lot of stylish flips and spins, and the top female rider of the tournament, Amber Rohlman, who stuck a massive backroll and tantrum. Unfortunately, it was not enough to beat out Chico State who has always been a threat. They were lead by Ryan Block and Max Morgan riding with that sick West Coast Camps steeze.
The weather calmed down a bit for the next match up between #2 seed University of Georgia and #7 seed South Florida. Georgia has always been the life of the party at the competitions. However, that and Pate Duddleston’s skillful competition riding could not help them beat the very talented South Florida team. Their top riders, Chris Waters and Lewis Link, both had phenomenal runs, landing tantrums to blind to put the icing on the cake.
Friday was the exact opposite of Thursday. The water was calm, the sun was working in full force, the crowd was crazy and the girls were in their bikinis. We could not ask for a better day. First off the dock was #1 seed Arizona State vs. #8 seed Rollins College. Arizona State came out wanting to make a name for themselves. With every single rider throwing advanced tricks or better, they were going to be tough to beat. However, Rollins College did have their secret weapon in Damien Adam, who is one of the best competition riders the Collegiate Wake Series has ever seen. He threw an unbelievable pro style run, but it was not enough to take down Arizona State.
The final heat of the first round was #4 seed Baylor vs. #5 seed Sacramento State. Both of these teams attended multiple competitions throughout the year and were stoked to be at Nationals. Baylor had a few injuries, but still came out hard with Reagan Stickland and Andy Trimble leading their crew. This was Baylor’s first experience at Nationals and with a young team they will be around for a while. However, Sacramento State was able to beat out Baylor with the strong leadership of Drew Glickman and Ben Hernstedt.
The semifinals started first thing Saturday morning with South Florida (#7) vs. Chico State (#6). This was a very evenly matched heat that was going to come down to who made more mistakes. Both teams’ top riders rode very well and South Florida’s bottom riders rode better than Chico’s giving South Florida the advantage to move on to the finals.
The second semifinal match was Arizona State (#1) vs. Sacramento State (#5). ASU was pretty confident that they could take Sac until their first rider of the dock, R.J. Pabon, broke his tibia landing wrong on his third trick. Luckily, they had alternate Brandon Krumbach waiting on the sidelines who came in and threw an awesome run helping give ASU the advantage over Sac State.
The finals went down Saturday afternoon, which was absolutely a site to see. It was a rematch from last year’s semifinal where Arizona State took down South Florida. Both teams went all out to try and take the title. Chris Waters from USF had the best run of the heat landing multiple 540, an S-bend and just slipping out on his tantrum to blind. Robert Skousen and JP Bray of ASU were right behind him, both landing huge heel fives and grabbing multiple inverts. However, just like the year before, the final outcome came down to the ladies where ASU’s Chelsea Clark had the advantage landing three huge grabbed 180 variations and just missing her back roll and backside 360 at the end.
Arizona State University grabbed their first ever Collegiate Wakeboard National Championship. They were determined to win this title ever since last year’s lost to Chico State and all of their hard work ended up paying off. Their team was composed of Ryan Platt, JP Bray, R.J. Pabon, Robert Skousen, Dallen Sullivan, Anthony Sutton, Cole Kraiss, Chelsea Clark and Brandon Krumbach.
The Collegiate Wakeboard Championships were an outstanding event and it will be interesting to see which team is going to work the hardest to take the title next year!