As the trip began to El Centro, California early Tuesday morning, there was no doubt in any of the team’s minds that this Nationals was going to be a fight until the end. Arriving for practice Wednesday morning everyone was ready to see what the future was going to foretell on a new lake and new site, and even a new state for that matter. After the day was over and everyone completed practice, the mental preparation for the tournament began. A good nights sleep and the Ragin’ Cajuns were off to a great start on a bright Thursday morning, starting with Women’s slalom. Charlotte Wharton was the first skier from the UL Lafayette Water Ski Team, scoring 3@35off taking the lead, and coming in second in the end! Charlotte held the lead so multiple skiers, creating a lot of excitement for the team, next was Brittany Greenwood, scoring 1@35 off, a good team score, then was Alyssa Chayer right behind Charlotte with 2.5@35 off, then came along the little German, Giannina Bonnemann, the only girl to run 35 off, and getting .5@38off, later to take the win. Taryn Grant the top seed for the women’s slalom team had come down with a cold and did not ski to her full potential, but this gave her fire for the upcoming events later in the weekend.
Giannina skiing through 35off. She was the only skier running the whole pass
Cajuns cheering in El Centro
Following the women’s slalom, men’s slalom was to begin, and the Ragin’ Cajuns were in the lead with 85 points. This lead had everyone in high spirits. Oskar Vikström, the first men’s slalomer to take to the water, ran 3@38, a fantastic score from Oskar, who did not expect to replaced another member of the team due to an injury that was rapidly getting worse. The whole team is greatly proud of Oskar for his performance. Our next slalomer was Chris Wharton and his skiing was just as astounding, running 1.5@38off. During the event all of the girls were cheering on the boys as they were competing, holding hands during each pass, rattling cowbells, and singing chants for encouragement. Dylan Schaffer, the third slalom skier, ran 2@38, followed by one of the newest teammates, Dane Mechler, running 3@39off. At this point Dane had the lead of all the Men’s slalom skier, with one more men’s round left to go. Dane also ended up with a third place medal at the end of the event. Benjamin Stadlbaur the second to last skier of the day, was ready to win another collegiate title, but unfortunately fell at 4.5@38off, not able to take the win, instead coming out of the water with the most team support, no matter the outcome. At the beginning of Friday, the men’s tricks event was about to start, the team had fallen about 100 points behind but there was hope to even out the scores by the end of the day. Garrett Karber, one of the seniors, had a great run going, but fell on one of his last flips scoring 1800. Chris Wharton next to take to the water, doing equally the same, falling on his last flip as well scoring 3130. Oskar Vikström the Swede-heart was determined to make it to the end of his run, but like the boys before, fell on a flip at the end of it, coming up short, but still scoring 3220. Roberto Linares, another senior, who was ready to trick in his last Nationals, concluded with a great run, scoring 4330. The last tricker for the Ragin’ Cajuns was Dylan Schaffer, who has been close to the collegiate trick record all Fall, but had an unfortunate bobble that made him loose a couple of seconds, hence scoring 5900 and coming second in the end.
Dylan and his world-famous front flip
On to one of the more exciting events of the weekend, women’s jump. The women’s jump team is known to take the top four spots and everyone was waiting to see what everyone was talking about. Madison Schneider was the first jumper of the team. Maddie had never jumped over 100 feet and on her first jump Maddie leaps 103 feet, becoming her new personal best, no better place to do it at nationals in front of all of your friends. Charlotte Wharton also jumping a collegiate personal best of 131 feet, skiing back into her team as they met her with hugs in the water. Following was Brittany Greenwood, jumping 134 feet, coming third behind her two teammates, Giannina Bonnemann in second with 140 feet, and first Taryn Grant who out-jumped her own teammate with an impressive 141 foot jump.
Taryn flying to the Women Jump National Title
As the day came to an end the team had regained their points, falling only 15 points behind. Saturday morning began the last day of the 2013 Collegiate Nationals and the start of women’s trick and to end with men’s jump. Maddie Schneider beginning the women’s team off again stood up her run, scoring 1580, setting a great tone for the rest of the girls to come. Taryn Grant, next on the water has had a tough trick season, but no one would have ever guessed after a great stand up run, and scoring an amazing 2890, earning her a fourth place medal. Brittany Greenwood also had a stand up run scoring 2440, a new collegiate personal best. Charlotte Wharton coming soon after, but not quite standing up her run, falling a little short, and scoring 1890. Giannina Bonnemann the last women’s trick skier surprised everyone with her graceful flips, but as the boys, she too fell, but still scoring 2890, tying Taryn, her roommate and teammate for second. Going into the men’s jump event, the team had only gained 10 points, still lacking 5, so the fight was still on. But for many of the men’s team, they were not able to salvage the championship. There is still a lot to be said for how close we stayed to our rival, ULM, for the whole competition. The Ragin’ Cajuns definitely gave them a run for their money and ULM knew UL Lafayette was not going down without a fight. The Ragin’ Cajun Water Ski Team would like to thank everyone for all the support from our sponsors, parents, community, and friends over the past couple weeks leading up to this major competition. A special mention goes to Ryan Gonzales, the Head Coach of the team. We all see you working extra hours in your office for us, and we truly appreciate what you do for us. Your Ragin’ Cajun pride is contagious! As well the UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns are ready to finally take down the ULM Warhawks next year at Nationals, and the work begins now. To conclude, the team would like to say a farewell to some awesome teammates, Garrett Karber-motorcycle specialist, and Roberto Linares-team captain, you guys have been a great part of the team and we will miss you both very much, the team is excited to see what you two have left to accomplish in the future!
Farewell Robbie! Thank you for being such a good captain!