By: Megan VanMeter, UK President, 19
San Diego, CA- University of Florida hoped to hold on to their reign as the colligate kings and queens of wake in this year’s Collegiate Wakeboard Nationals.
On May 13 eight colligate wake teams from across the country traveled to classy San Diego, California to compete in the Alt Games. The teams showcased their best talent for three days hoping to take home some hardware that would crown them the number one collegiate team in the nation. The majority of the teams came from the east, while one was right at home. All had the same goal; to win, but just laying it down, having a great time, and representing their school was the main atmosphere at the tournament.
After the seeding round the competition was steep, Florida took the number one spot followed by Chico State by only a one point deficit, and taking the third seed, which was a surprise to many including the team members, was the University of Kentucky. “I’m out here just trying to be the John Wall of wakeboarding,” said UK’s top Men’s rider Cameron Steiner. Each of the teams came out on top in the quarter-finals and along with them came Central Washington University, making up the final four.
Florida and Chico State moved onto the team finals. “We worked really hard, and raised a lot of money to get out here, so were hoping to take it home again,” said UF’s wake President Matt Morgan.
Along with the team tournament an individual’s tournament was held where 24 of the more experienced team riders went head to head to be crowned the tournament champ. The final four; Raquell Hoffman-Chico State University, Kevin Wipplinger- Florida Gulf Coast University, John Zdedeblic- University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Ryan Mocerino- University of Florida, truly gave the crowd a spectacle of the sport in the finals. Wipplinger had been a hit in the team tournament for his huge S-Bend that sent the crowd roaring.
“It came to me in the shower, it clicked and I knew I had to do it,” said Wipplinger in regard to the S-Bend. Many were surprised when Wipplinger did not throw the trick in the individual finals but he said he did so to keep the judges guessing, which paid off because Kevin won the individual tournament.
Then it was time for the team finals between Chico and Florida. The competitors knew they would all have to step their game up for this heat because each team had been throwing down hard. The ladies went first and of course Raquell Hoffman shone bright for Chico. After the women’s and wakeskate heat Chico was in the lead and it rested on one UF rider to score a 79 or higher for Florida to possibly move on. At the end of his heat it was announced he scored a 76 and Chico was the unofficial champions.
The heat was completed and Chico was the official champs beating Florida with four head to head victories to Florida’s three. Chico is the first non-Florida school to win the Alt Games, UF placed second, and UK tied with Central Washington for third. “The win feels glorious!” said Chico State as a whole.
All the teams had an amazing time partying with new friends and making new boat buddies from all across the nation. “This has been one of the coolest weekends of my life- everyone here is so fun, I just want to take everyone home with me and ride with them every day,” said Wipplinger.