As fall recedes so does the summer weather, which the Sacramento State wakeboard club will take full advantage of this weekend as it hosts its first-ever Western regional competition.
The USA Western Regional Collegiate Wakeboard Contest is being held Saturday and Sunday at The WaterSports Farm in Nicolaus, about 30 miles north of campus.
It is a nine-school competition among Arizona State, Northridge, San Diego State, Long Beach, University of Oregon, Sac State, Chico, Central Washington and Boise State.
“It’s a big deal because Sac State hasn’t hosted the competition before. Everyone is super excited for it,” said wakeboard club Vice President Nataly Conner. “Not a lot of people know about wakeboarding, but when they go to competitions they think it’s so cool and makes them want to get interested in it so it’ll just build the club up more.”
Conner is a freshman rider out of Napa, who wakeboard club president Drew Glickman said is expected to be one of the top female performers of the competition.
“(Conner) is a freshman this year, she’s definitely into it and she’s an amazing woman rider so we’re expecting her to get on the podium,” Glickman said.
Twelve of the team’s 25 riders will be competing this weekend – eight men and four women. Glickman said a couple of the top riders to look out for are veterans Ben Hernstedt and Trent Kelly.
The regional contest will mark the first competition of the season and will give three schools an automatic bid to nationals in the spring.
Chico State is the defending collegiate national champion and Glickman said it is the team they have got their eye on.
“Our biggest competition right now is Chico State. They won nationals last year so that’s who we’re going for.” Glickman said. “This year we definitely have a good team so we’re looking to go head-to-head with them for sure.“
Chico state team captain Colton Duncan said the team is eager to get back on the water to show everyone what it has been working on.
“Coming into this regional competition, we are hoping to defend our title by laying down runs that will put us in contention for another top finish,” Duncan said.
Although the teams are hungry for a win, the competition will not break the bond the riders have made with each other over the years.
“For the past couple of years we have been super close with almost all of the teams,” Glickman said. “ASU and Chico are definitely our closest friends. We all have hang out all the time away from competition. “
Duncan considers it a friendly rivalry and said the pressure is not as apparent because the riders are on a boat with friends and having fun.
“The vibe surrounding the regional and national collegiate competitions is pretty friendly,” Duncan said. “Everyone is there for the fun of the sport, to hang out and ride with people that share similar interests.”
Along with catching some waves and catching up with friends, Duncan said he is eager to see how everyone has progressed over the summer.
“Our team couldn’t be more stoked to get back into competition and hang out with our friends from ASU, Sac State and Washington,” Duncan said. “We’re looking forward to a great weekend of shredding and good times.”
Last year, Sac State’s wakeboarding club was unable finance the entire team in big competitions so only three riders were able to compete individually. This year the team has sufficient funds and will have a full 12-rider roster.
The Western Regional contest will be the first of Sac State’s three-contest fall season. Chico will host one at the end of the month and the team will travel to Southern California in at the start of November. Nationals will take place in the spring.
“I know a lot of people don’t know about our club and are pretty surprised we have a wakeboard club on campus, but we’re trying to get as known as we can and have people come out to the event and watch,” Glickman said.
The riders of USA Wakeboard Western Regionals will hit the waves at 9 a.m. Saturday in part of the two-day contest.
Jillian Kweller can be reached at email@example.com.