“Go big or go home.” Not only is this a motto most athletes live by it is reality for teams competing in the quarterfinals of the Collegiate Nationals Wakeboard Championships today. As the competition gets more intense, teams must show their worth to stay alive in the semifinals Sunday.
Sunny skies and water tame as glass gave these riders ideal conditions to go out and show their stuff. However, Colorado’s higher elevation was a struggle for most athletes.
“I was not prepared for the altitude,” said Scott Hopkins from the University of Florida. “I am from Florida and the highest point there is a trash hill.”
Yet the athletes overcame the new surroundings and were still able to throw down on the water.
In the quarterfinals teams must win a majority of their individual heats to make it on to the Sunday semifinals.
“Quarterfinals are a lot more important,” said Virginia Tech rider Brett Fiskus. “Half the teams were eliminated yesterday, now there are a lot of good teams. If you don’t win today you don’t make it to tomorrow and tomorrow you have the opportunity to do really well.”
As the athletes hit the water, the competition began to brew, only friendly competition that is.
“Everyone is always out there having a good time and enjoying the other schools company and energy,” said Hopkins. “We have been doing competitions with the same riders for years and years so we’re all really good friends.”
Friends or not, these riders were ready for the competition. Defending champs University of Central Florida dominated Chico State, dropping only one ride and moving into the semis.
In round two of the quarterfinals the “dark horse” team from Texas A&M also dominated its competitor, Sacramento State.
“Texas A&M has only had a club for two years, but are competing extremely well in competition,” said UNC-Wilmington rider Fabian Ashley. “I look forward to seeing them in finals.”
In round three, the University of Minnesota could not rally a win against the most dominant team thus far, Florida, who have made it to finals for the last four years. Hopkins led his team with a score of 94 out of a possible 100.
Round four pitted two battle battered teams against each other. UNC-Wilmington was only able to bring five riders and Virginia Tech’s top rider, Brett Fiskus, competed with a broken hand he sustained during yesterday’s competition. However, UNC-Wilmington’s five riders got the job done and the team made it through to semifinals tomorrow.
UCF, Texas A&M, Florida, and UNC-Wilmington will “bring out the big guns” as they battle it out in tomorrow’s semifinals.