There must be some kind of magic that comes with the aura of Marine Stadium in Long Beach California. This location was chosen over a year ago to be the host location of the 2011 Collegiate Wake Series Championships for Empire Wake.
It was the first time Sal Masekela had been back since the X Games were hosted here, and it was the first time the stadium had no boat traffic, sunny 65-degree weather and glassy water for an entire weekend.
The neighbors came out every day to watch the 8 teams battle head to head Thursday through Saturday for the claim to best team in the nation. The teams came from Florida, Oregon, California, Texas and Louisiana.
The wake celebs came out too with Ricky G and Nick Heaney giving a lesson of their own, Sal Masekela and Jay Lagino of TSO Studios, Cory Marotta of Alliance Wakeboard Mag and once staff writer Brian Wheeler from Wakeboarding Mag.
We were also graced with the presence of the wife of Lee Kirk, the world record holder for barefoot skiing at 110.2 mph. He was a resident of Marine Stadium and passed away Feb 5, 2011. It was an honor and pleasure to have her support.
Thursday night kicked off with Oregon taking on #2 Florida State. They rode until dark and FSU emerged on top even though Oregon put up quite a battle.
Friday was the other rounds of USF v UL Monroe, Texas v Baylor, and Chico State getting a bye with the forfeit of Long Beach St. USF handled newcomer and team of the year UL Monroe no problem, while Texas was in a scare from Baylor who had a good shot at the upset. Baylor has a solid team from top to bottom, but couldn’t handle the heavy hitters of Texas.
The final day brought the best conditions and most action of the event. With the final four set, Texas took on USF while FSU had Chico St. Chico, who was favored to win the event, placed second last year falling short to Texas on their home lake. This year they once again made it to the finals where they awaited the winner of Texas v. USF.
This match up was the biggest of the event and closest of the year. Both teams threw down all they had with Derek Dyer having the run of his career. USF was flawless and that is what it took to beat Texas and head into the finals against Chico State.
Top to bottom, Chico St had the more solid team. They are good all the way down the roster, but once again USF rode flawlessly lead by Derek Dyer and Dan Olsen. Derek Dyer was named Collegiate Wake Series Championships MVP. He was hands down the best rider of the event and most consistent taking first in every match up.
Each year Collegiate Wakeboarding is getting better and more legit. Keep your eyes open for the 2012 Collegiate Wake Series stops.
Special thanks to all the companies and people who really made this event one to remember! Tommy Iorio, Sal Masekela with TSO Studios, Ricky Gonzales and the Phalanx Wakeboard crew, Buywake.com, Slingshot, Alpinestars, Gibbons Slacklines, H20 Audio, Kicker Audio, Danni Patraitis, Troy Flick, Jay Longino, Nick Heaney and Alliance Wakeboard Magazine.