On Friday September 30th nine teams from all corners of the Western Region trickled into Mesa, Washington’s Tate Lake. After many practice rides, and a beautiful sunset no one knew what the Saturday of Regionals would bring. With only one Western tournament prior to Regionals many teams had yet to have the opportunity to arrive in full force and see how their team stacks against others. Many teams expected to be very close together on the scoreboard, and ultimately this meant one thing: when the tournament started on Saturday, the pressure was on.
Shortly after rising and shining on Saturday morning the trick ski event started and the boys were up first. Arizona State University’s (ASU) Nicholas Lang dominated the event with a score of 4720, nearly doubling the second place scores of San Diego State University’s (SDSU) Santiago Robledo and Curtis Williams who tied with 2370 points. Newt Cutcliffe (San Diego State) took fourth with 1500 points and the fifth spot went to Ty Vaio (Cal Poly San Louis Obispo) who tricked 1040. Other notable performances were Joe Macintyre’s crowd favorite two ski trick run which always concludes with a flip attempt and a big splash. Not to mention a 5-way tie for the coveted 17th place spot. In fact, more than half of the men’s trickers tied with someone. (20 of 35 for the curious)
After a quick crew and judge swap, and after the water temperature was confirmed to be “not that bad” the ladies took to the lake and showed the boys how trick skiing is supposed to look. Kari McCollum (San Diego State) took the top of the podium with a score of 1860 points, followed by Western Washington University’s Jaye Morris with a score of 1690. San Diego State took the next three podium spots with scores of 860, 740, and 660 earned by Hannah Gahararan, Tabbie Magner, and Holly Baker respectively.
Men’s slalom followed and with close scores and a full starting dock made for a truly exciting event. Nicholas Lang (ASU) and Curtis Williams (SDSU) both earned applause as they skied through 35’ off, with Nicholas earning 1 buoy at 38’ off while Curtis took home the win with 2.5 buoys. Jackson Baines (ASU) took home 3rd for his team with a score of 2.5 buoys at 35’ off, narrowly beating Christian Forsee’s (WWU) 4th place score of 2 buoys at 35’ off. Forsee’s performance later earned him the title of WWU’s “Freshman of the Month.” The fifth place spot went to Santiago Robledo (SDSU) with 5 buoys at 32’ off.
Jaye Morris (WWU) emerged victorious in women’s slalom after being the only competitor to ski into 32’ off, picking up 3 buoys on the green loop. Kari McCollum (SDSU) took second with 2.5 buoys at 28’ off, followed by UCLA’s Madeline Brooks with a score of 3 buoys at 22’ off. UC Davis’s Rebecca Spranger and SDSU’s Hanne Henriksen took fourth and fifth respectively with scores of 3 buoys at 32MPH and 3 buoys at 30MPH.
As is tradition women’s jump began on Sunday morning and Jaye Morris (WWU) wowed the crowed. She not only by sending it 118’ for the victory, but also because she opted to NOT pass for an entire set! Kari McCollum (SDSU) took second with an 89 footer, despite “really really” wanting to break the 100 foot barrier. Mary Kienbaum of WWU leapt 58’ to secure third place and was followed by ASU’s Dian Nordstrom who took fourth place at 48’ just 0.2 meters ahead of UC Davis’ Brianna Nino who took the fifth spot.
As for the boys Nicholas Lang (ASU) flew 152 feet to secure first place, followed by Curtis Williams (SDSU) with a distance of 39.6 meters (or 130’). ASU’s Ryan Fitzpatrick trailed just 3 feet behind Curtis to take home 3rd place with a 127 foot jump. Likewise, only 3 feet separated the fourth and fifth spots with Matt Kienbaum (WWU) soaring 119 feet and Ty Vaio (Cal Poly SLO) landing at the 116 foot mark.
Soon after, in the same fashion that we all arrived, the tournament came to a close and the five teams bound for nationals were decided. After all was said and done San Diego State University took first place with a total of 6,440 points and earned a spot in Division 1. Arizona State took home second place with a score of 5,440 points and skied their way into Division 1 as well (based on Monday’s seeding announcement), making this the first time since 2011 that the West will be represented by two teams in Division 1. Western Washington University finished in third with 4,825 points. UC Davis and UCLA took fourth and fifth with 3,905 and 3,690 points respectively.
In sixth place was Cal State University, Chico with 3,220 points. Cal Poly San Louis Obispo took seventh with 1,525 points, and Long Beach State and Washington State (both represented by only 1 skier! finished in 8th and 9th with scores of 485 and 100 respectively. Score books from this tournament and others can be viewed on USA Water Ski.
As always, it was a phenomenal weekend with fun and comradery packed into nearly every part of the tournament. A huge thanks goes out to the Western Washington University Waterski Team for organizing and hosting the excellent event. Luckily for us West (best) Coasters the regional tournament does not spell the end of the season even for those not going to nationals. With thoughts of post-nationals tournaments all teams left the beautiful Tate Lake excited for whatever’s next.