Another year in the books means another group of great collegiate wakeboarders to recognize. This past year has been no disappointment with more teams joining the collegiate wakeboard circuit and the level of riding continuing to improve. More and more teams are obtaining dominant riders and there is no telling who will win the national championship this year. This is also the first year that multiple riders from the same team are appearing in the Top 10, so make sure to keep a good eye on those teams for contention to win that National Championship.
This year was as difficult as ever to get the list narrowed down to only ten riders. I had many discussions with different team officials and it was still not clear who should and who should not be in it. We base the "Top 10" off of how the riders have been performing in the last year. We look at competition results, consistency to land bangers, technicality, style and how they have been pushing their riding. After a few months of continued conversations and research, we were able to get the list narrowed down to 10 riders, six of which also appeared in our 2013/2014 Top 10.
The only thing harder than coming up with those 10 riders was getting everyone in the correct order. The first few riders were easy, but after that it got extremely difficult because the rider talent level is so close, but they all have different tricks and different style. Finally, the list has been figured out and you will see some familiar names and some new faces this year.
10. Hayden McEntire
Hayden McEntire is a senior at Texas A&M and he has been pushing his riding for 10 years now. This is Hayden’s fourth year competing for the TAMU Wake team and he has always been one of their top riders. This year Hayden competed in the Empire Wake Georgia stop and the Texas A&M Wake Open. Unfortunately, he was not able the podium in a very stacked field in Georgia, but was able to claim second at the Wake Open. He would have competed in more comps, but was unable to do so due to a torn meniscus.
Hayden has a very smooth riding style and is extremely consistent on all of his tricks. His favorite trick to throw is a melan grab backside 180. He also has a crow mobe, roll to blind and multiple 7's just to name a few. He wants to start working on double cab rolls and the elusive fashion air.
Hayden’s home lake is Lake Austin in Austin, Texas and his favorite boat to ride behind is the Texas A&M team Axis T22. His current set up is the CWB Dowdy with Dowdy boots. He is sponsored by CWB and is a Wakewell Ministries member. You can expect to see Hayden at the Empire Wake College Wake Championships where, arguably, the best Texas A&M team ever will be fighting for a National title.
9. Marshall Lewis
Marshall Lewis is only a sophomore at Baylor University and has already been making a big name for himself in the collegiate and Texas wake scene. At a stature of 6’1 and 205 pounds, he is the biggest wakeboarder in this Top 10. Marshall grew up in New Braunfels, Texas and has been shredding Lake Dunlap for the past 10 years. Currently his favorite trick to throw is a big heel roast beef 360. His bag of tricks also consists of heel and toe 720's, whirlybird, crow mobe and a lot of his tricks he can also do switch. Marshall has currently been working on a toe 900 and a whirlybird 540. He was able to make it out to the Empire Wake Dallas stop this year where he took home first place in a very competitive open division.
While at Baylor, Marshall gets to ride at BSR and the Brazos River, which is his favorite spot to ride because the water is always butter. He is in between setups right now and just trying to get his hands on whatever he can ride.
Marshall’s favorite wakeboard memory is pretty cool. He woke up one morning to a text from Reagan Strickland, an officer of the Baylor Wake Team, which said, “We’re going on the boat today and you are not getting back in the boat until you land a Moby Dick and heel 7.” Long story short, they went out and he was able to land both tricks for the first time ever. You can expect to see Marshall throwing down at the Empire Wake College Wake Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada.
8. Pate Duddleston (#8 last year)
Pate Duddleston is a junior at the University of Georgia and this is his second year on the Top 10 list. Pate has been wakeboarding for the past eight years on Lake Tellico in his hometown of Vonore, Tennessee. With college riders becoming better each year, he too has been pushing his riding. Pate is a very fun rider to watch because of his great style, air awareness and the big smile he always has on his face. Lately, his favorite tricks to throw have been an indy tantrum to blind and nose crow mobe, which are both two very technical tricks. He also has a whirlybird, back mobe and heel and toe front 720’s in his bag of tech tricks. He is currently working on double flips and a back mobe 5. If he were to get those down it would definitely move him up on the list.
This year in the collegiate competitions Pate placed second in the USA Wakeboard Florida Regional and third in the Empire Wake Georgia stop. Also, outside of collegiate riding he placed first in the King of Lake Lanier competition.
Pate is currently riding the 2015 Harley and his sponsors are Singleton Marine Group and Liquid Force. His favorite wakeboarding memoires consist of landing his first double flip and also the time when his wake team took a winch trip to Blue Lake. They found and set up some rails in the sand along the lake to shred for hours. You can expect to see Pate along with the University of Georgia Wake Dawgs at the USA Collegiate Wakeboard Nationals.
7. Nick Vaccari (#3 last year)
Nick Vaccari is a senior at Louisiana State University and it is his third consecutive year on the Top 10 list. He has been wakeboarding for 10 years and it all started on the Tchefuncta River. Nick has been adding style to his riding by steezing out his method and bringing the tuck knee into some of his tricks. Nick is an amazing boat rider, but also he's recently become super into cable ever since Cajun X Cables opened up in Louisiana. He was unable to attend any collegiate boat competitions this year, but he will be at the USA Collegiate Nationals for sure. He did, however, compete in the Louisiana Lafayette college cable comp where he took first place.
Outside of collegiate wakeboarding, Nick has competed in WWA Nationals taking home a first in cable and second in boat a couple years back and second place in the Wake Open this past year. With those results you can tell Nick is a talented and diverse rider.
This year Nick is riding the 2015 CWB Standard with JT binding and his sponsors have changed up a little to CWB, Verasty, Rukus and Bennett’s. Nick does not have any favorite wakeboarding memory in particular since every day he gets to go out on the water is as good as the last.
6. Adam Holdsworth (#5 last year)
Adam Holdsworth just finished up his final semester at the University of Tennessee. He has been wakeboarding since 1997, but it is only his second year doing collegiate wakeboarding and also his second year making it into the Top 10. Adam has a very unique style of riding and throws the biggest Raleys I have ever seen, besides Shaun Murray’s, of course. His favorite trick to throw is a seatbelt tantrum to blind, which he makes look very cool. He also just recently learned a switch heelside back roll to blind. That is a trick not a lot of people can do. Adam is very good at mobe- and Raley-based tricks and has more of them than I can list. I know he is currently working on more switch mobes as well.
Adam took second place at the 2014 USA Wakeboard Nationals and second place at this year's USA Wakeboard Southeastern Regional. He just cannot seem to surpass the very talented Colby Bernier. He is hoping to change that at this year’s national. Last summer Adam competed in the pro division at Center Hill Wakefest taking home sixth place and receiving some prize money. Most of that money went to his new phone after his old one fell into the lake at that competition. Adam also received second place in Wakeboarding Mag’s Best Monday Mishap of 2014, which is a bittersweet achievement.
Adam’s daily riding set up is the 2015 Slingshot Blue Pill, 2015 RAD bindings, a blue and black life vest and blue board shots. He certainly has a thing for the color blue. His current sponsors are Slingshot, American Boat Center and The Wakeshop. Adam will be at the USA Collegiate Wakeboard Nationals hoping to finally take down his collegiate wakeboard regional rival Colby Bernier.
5. Colby Bernier (#4 last year)
Colby Bernier is a senior at Jacksonville State University and has been shredding the wake for 11 years. Colby has become a big name on the College Wake Scene after taking home the title at the 2014 USA Wakeboard Nationals for his clutch riding. He has been working extremely hard on his riding in an attempt to claim back-to-back titles in a very impressive field of riders. Colby’s bangers consist of whirlybird 540, melan Moby Dick, melan Pete Rose and crow mobe, just to name a few. He has also been working on one footers on his Hyperlite Kruz with Webb System bindings to add a unique style to his riding.
So far this season, Colby took first place at the USA Wakeboard Southeastern Regional, which qualified him to defend his title. Some of Colby’s other achievements from this past year consist of being a proud owner of a 2015 Nautique G23, which he rides on his home lake of Lake Mitchell, and landing his first double flip at Flip Side Watersports in Alabama.
Freddie Wayne is a junior at the University of Florida and has been wakeboarding for 15 years now. This is his third year riding for Gator Wake and also his third year making the Top 10. Freddie is a big name in the wakeboarding community, from receiving multiple podiums on the Junior Pro Tour to all of his great edits. Freddie has landed so many big tricks, such as heel 900, Moby Dick 540, heel back 720 and a big worm to name a few. Unfortunately, Freddie does not wakeboard as much as he used to because he has been very focused on school and flying planes. Both are for very understandable reasons.
Freddie was able to make it out to the USA Wakeboard Florida Regional, where he took second place to Damien Adam, but beat out a lot of other great riders. Freddie has so many awesome wakeboarding memories from finishing third overall on the Junior Pro Tour to living with Harley Clifford down in Australia. That was a great opportunity for him to improve his riding. His sponsors include Hyperlite, Malibu Boats, Body Glove and Performance Ski and Surf. Hopefully, we will see Freddie at the USA Wakeboard Collegiate Nationals, which would be his first ever collegiate nationals, but we will have to wait and see.
3. Will Green
Will Green is in his senior year at the University of Florida and has been riding on his home lake of Lake Sylvan in Orlando for the past 10 years. Will was unknown in collegiate wakeboarding, even to most people at his own school, until he went to the 2014 USA Wakeboard Nationals and took third place overall. Since then, he has been working on his riding a lot to improve that position. Will has a smooth style and great consistency on his tricks. He loves going big into the flats and throwing the same trick regular and then switch. He has landed just about every mobe and has a lot of them switch. Will also has some tricks in the works that will remain unpublicized until Nationals.
Will took first place in Men B at the USA Wakeboard Florida Regional. He definitely could have competed in the Men A division, but each team is only allowed one rider per division and teammate Freddie Wayne was holding down the A spot. Will has also been competing in the WWA for a while now. He has been on the podium multiple times and recently took first place in Men 1 at the 2014 Wake Games.
Will’s favorite wakeboarding memory is when his brother, cousin and he all swept the intermediate, advanced and outlaw divisions at a grassroots competition in Tampa. He is currently shredding an old Byerly Monarch with Ronix One bindings. At the moment he is unsponsored, which is very surprising. You can bet that fans will be excited to see what Will does at the 2015 USA Wakeboard Collegiate Nationals.
2. Jon Hunt
Jon Hunt is a sophomore at the University of Georgia. Some of you might recognize this name from the Jr. Pro Tour a couple years back and also from being the Georgia Malibu Pro Card winner in 2014. Well, now he is the top shredder for the Wake Dawgs. Jon has been wakeboarding for the past seven years, all starting on Lake Lanier in his hometown of Gainesville, Georgia.
Jon has a crazy array of tricks that consist of a toe 900, off-axis indy heel back 540, indy crow mobe, Pete Rose and the rest you can see in his very impressive video edit below. He was able to make it to the Collegiate Wake Series stop in Georgia where he took second place in, arguably, the most talented field of riders at a College competition this year. He also took third place overall in the USA Wakeboard Florida Regional.
Jon is currently riding the Ronix William with the Code 22 bindings. His sponsors are SMG Wake, Ronix and Smith Optics. Jon’s favorite memory of wakeboarding goes all the way back to the beginning; his first summer riding. It is hard to beat the feeling of your first time getting up on a wakeboard. Hopefully, Jon will be able to make it to the USA Wakeboard Collegiate Nationals with his teammate Pate to try and get the Wake Dawgs their first-ever national title.
1. Damien Adam (#1 last year)
Damien Adam is a junior at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. He is from the island of Mauritius and grew up wakeboarding on the Indian Ocean. This kid has only been wakeboarding for six years and he is already riding at a professional level. It is crazy how much better Damien has gotten in style and technicality over the last year. He is grabbing all of his tricks and even throwing double grabs on some of them. Currently, his favorite trick to throw is a double grab cab 360 landing inward wrapped. Some big tricks he is stomping are a whirlybird 540, Moby Dick 540, toe 900, switch 720's and he has been super close to landing a heel 900.
This past semester Damien competed in the Empire Wake Georgia and Tampa stop and the USA Wakeboard Florida Regional. He was able to claim first place in all of them, beating out a lot of the other riders in the Top 10. Outside of college wakeboarding, Damien has won a couple Gravel Tour Stops and also was able to compete at some of the pro tour stops, which is definitely an awesome experience.
Damien is currently riding the Hyperlite Marek with team boots and his sponsors consist of Tilted Axis clothing and Exceed Wetsuits. His favorite wakeboard memory is sticking his first invert, which is an amazing feeling that hopefully all wakeboarders will get the opportunity to experience. Unfortunately, Damien will not be able to make it to the College Wake Championships with his team because he will be competing at the Wake Open in Waco, Texas the same weekend, but he will try to make it to the USA Nationals.