Beach Volleyball Teams Prepare for San Diego

Raymond Ayala

The 2007 Collegiate Nationals, saw the crowning of numerous champions and showcased lifestyle sports at the collegiate level. After the success of last year, the 2008 Collegiate Nationals event in San Diego will feature four events, as compared to last year when there were three competitions. This year, along with beach volleyball, flowboarding, and a music festival, a new addition will be the eating contest.

The flowboarding championship was an extremely successful event in 2007. The riders compete at San Diego’s famous Wave House, where they throw down on a 10-foot wave simulator known as Bruticus Maximus.

USC senior Derek Zemen went toe-to-toe with over 80 competitors last year at the Wave House, and emerged as the 2007 individual champion of the event.

“Winning this event gave me confidence, and it felt good to win a collegiate national championship,” said Zemen.

Zemen explained that though last year’s championship was great, he is definitely intent on becoming a back-to-back champion, “This is probably one of my biggest events of the year. This is my last collegiate nationals competition and I want to have fun and hopefully repeat again as champion.”

This year Zemen will be in a mix of competitors that will include participants from Loyola Marymount University, Mesa, Point Loma, San Diego State, UCLA and USC. Chris Neubauer (Point Loma), Tyler McIntyre (Mesa), Jeff Ranta (SDSU) and Andy Gold (Mesa) figure to be the heavy favorites to win this event, along with Zemen.

The eating championship will open its inaugural championship season this year. Collegiate competitive eaters from around the country will be taking part in the event. French fry qualifiers will be held on Friday at RT’s Longboard grill and are open to all. Saturday’s final will be held at Wave House and each competitor will consume mixed plates. Each plate consists of two hamburgers, two hot dogs, and French fries. The competitor that can consume the most plates will be crowned the champion.

The University of Maryland’s Brian “Eatin” Keaton was ecstatic to compete, “This is definitely one of the biggest eating contests that I am going to be participating in this year. I consider it to be very serious, especially since it is on the national stage.”

Some people feel that competitive eating is not a true sport, but Keaton had a message for those who feel this way. “It requires training, ability and skill, just like any other sport. I don’t just sit in my room all day and eat, I work out on a regular basis just like any other athlete.”

The music competition had entries from over 100 colleges. After the good were filtered out from the bad, A Brief Smile and Mumpsy emerged as the finalists. Both of these bands will look to further their popularity by participating in this event.

The beach volleyball championship is the only event, which features NCAA athletes. This years contest will feature the Clemson, USC, Texas, Wisconsin, the hometown team University of San Diego, and the defending event champions, Nebraska.

The rosters for all the teams include some of the best players in the country, including 2007 NCAA All-Americans Taylor Carico (USC), Brittney Dolgner (Wisconsin) and Jordan Larson (Nebraska). These volleyball players are used to the hard court, but now they must adjust their game to the beach.

USD sophomore Torey Ellick will be one of the participants in the event and she explained the differences between sand and hard-court volleyball, “The adjustment is tough in many ways, playing on the beach you have different factors like the wind, the sun the temperature that can effect your playing.”

Although this tournament is not on as large a scale as the NCAA Championships, it is still considered an important event to the athletes. “We all are taking this tournament seriously in a sense that not a lot of teams get to have this experience and we are fortunate that we get to have the chance to participate in this tournament,” said USD junior Breanne Ogden.

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