By Nico Zulli
Shready, set, go. The No. 5 Baylor wake team prepares to take Lake Las Vegas as they compete for the title of College Wake Champion 2014.
This year, 8 members of the team will travel to Las Vegas, Nev., to compete in the fifth annual College Wakeboarding Championship from April 3 and 4 hosted by Empire Wake.
The head-to-head structure of the competition has eight riders from one team each perform and receive individual scores. The eight riders of the opposing team will then ride and also be individually scored. Ultimately, the team with the highest combined score will win the round and advance.
The team who wins the most rounds will win the title of College Wake Champion 2014.
“The competition is going to be just as competitive or more so than it was last year,” said Austin senior Reagan Strickland, president of Baylor Wake. “But this year we’re bringing a team that is three times as good.”
Strickland said each team brings its top eight riders to the competition, including at least one female competitor.
San Antonio senior Dakota Park, Captain of Baylor Wake, said this year’s competition will be tough, but the team believes it has more potential than ever to bring home the title.
“This is our best team since 2010, when we lost to eventual national champion the University of Texas,” Park said. “And we believe we have a much more talented competition team this year. Everyone really feels like this is our year, and it’s a lot of fun seeing all the enthusiasm going into Vegas.”
Park said because Baylor Wake is ranked fifth overall in the bracket this year, they will end up facing defending champion and No. 1 ranked team Arizona State University in the second round of competition.
“This will be our biggest challenge,” he said. “If we can get past them, I really like our chances of winning the whole thing. We are definitely one of the most talented teams in the country this year.”
Park and Strickland said the team has competed very well at all the regional stops this year and, with the addition of New Braunfels freshman Marshal Lewis, has been able to bring some new tricks to the table in the College Wake Competition.
“He’s the man,” Strickland said. “He is going to lead the team on the water as we go up against some tough rivals.”
Park said Lewis is one of the team’s more notable riders.
“This is his first year, and he already has two mobes and a 720 in his bag of tricks,” he said.
“Colleyville senior Austin Avery, Baylor Wake secretary, said Lewis is outstanding and has a great shot at winning the advanced category.
Avery also said regardless of outcome, the competition will be a great opportunity for the team to showcase what they have been working toward all year.
“We have a great chance at placing this year and are excited about nationals,” he said. “All of our riders are healthy and ready to compete full force.”
The Baylor wake team is also online, with The Baylor Wakeboarding Video on YouTube maxing just shy of 700,000 views. Baylor Wake practice footage and crash reels can also be found on Park’s YouTube channel, Dak3Productions.
Other members of the team who will be competing in Las Vegas include freshman Blake Davenport, freshman Hunter Northcutt, sophomore Skyler Strickland, junior Cameron Budd and junior Tori Broussard.
Students can look for updates on the Las Vegas competition on Twitter and Instagram at @baylorwake or on the team’s official Facebook page.