By Empire Wake

Empire Wake breaks down the top 16 teams in the country. We have our reasons why they are where they are and whom we think is going to come out on top in Austin. There will be a quiz later so take notes and pay attention.

1. Florida State University. After brining 29 riders to an event and placing strong in almost every division you just can’t deny these guys deserve it. No other team all year could produce these numbers.

They are stacked in the middle divisions but in Atlanta were lacking podium riders in open and advanced. They score heavy in Wakeskate and Womens to make up double points.

Look out for an upset though in nationals when they are cut down to only 8 riders and placed on the same level as all the other schools. They will get past Oregon no problem, but after that it get dangerous for them.

2. University of North Carolina Wilmington. This is a team looking for blood. They are loaded on both ends and after not going to the Alt Games last year are ready to claim their spot as national champions.

Look out for their open riders Justin Sellers, Justin Barnes and Fabian Ashley. Fabian is very technical and the Justins have some style. Sellers can win any event when he wants to, when he wants to. Barnes just gets better every year.

I pick these guys to win it all.

3. University of Central Florida. This is another team that is going to make it to the final 4. They are loaded at the top of the ladder with Austin Hair and Arron Able.  Austin very well may be the best rider in the country right now in collegiate wakeboarding.

But look out for round 2 where there could meet South Florida once again and if    not at their best could trip and be watching the rest of the week.

4. UC Chico State. They swept the San Diego event in the open division and almost did the same in the advanced where they took 1st and 3rd.  They have the best women rider in the country (Raequel Hoffman) who could have easily won the open division that day but feel on a whirly and moby dick.

Like the fate of Central Florida, Chico St will see a rematch against their rival too, Long Beach St.

5. Long Beach St. Is a well balanced team that has some potential this year. Eric Christensen could take 1st in advanced, while their strongest riders are in the intermediate division. They were missing some riders at qualifiers, so we will see who they bring to the stage in Austin. . They will have to get through North Carolina State first. They shouldn’t look to far. This is an upset alert.

6. University of South Florida. This team might deserve to be higher. They will certainly be tested in the rematch against Central Florida saying they get past North Texas.  Derek Dyer is a double threat riding and placing in both Open and Wakeskate. Chris Waters is a major threat in the advanced division and will surely earn South Florida some points.

7. Texas A&M. These guys might be the most well balanced team. They don’t have any stand out heavy hitters, but they are deep and placed riders in nearly every division. Trevor Akers runs a great program here and they are going to be tough to beat with all the scoring riders.

The downside, they have to see Texas Tech 1st round. This is by far the toughest first round match up.

8. University of Texas. Hook ‘em! These guys have the heavy hitters to take them to a higher level. Taylor Lopez is young and riding strong. She might not be at the level of Raequel Hoffman, but she is strong enough to score the Horns some points.

Steven Cahill is also going to place high and is only a freshman as well. This team is building well. He is one of the best open riders in the country.

To Be Continued…

Come back next Tuesday to see the rest of the Top Collegiate Teams in the US.