Another year of great collegiate riding has gone by and that gives us 10 more collegiate riders to recognize for their amazing riding. There have been around 15 collegiate wakeboard competitions this past semester, along with about 15 new teams joining the collegiate circuit. That’s a lot of change, which is probably why there are only two riders in our 2013/2014 top ten that were also in the 2012/2013 top ten.
There has been some professional-level riding going on in the open divisions by some of these amazing riders. Competitions have taken place in locations such as Boise, Idaho; Waco, Texas; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Shreveport, Louisiana just to name a few. There have also been some great Internet edits put out by some of these riders that are a must see!
This year I got in touch with 20-plus team officials to collaborate the most legitimate top 10 list we possibly could. We made sure to factor in things such as how they have been riding in competitions, how their freeriding has been, how consistent they are at landing all of their tricks, how big they can take their tricks, how smooth they land and, one of the biggest factors, STYLE! This list was extremely difficult to narrow down to only 10 riders. Once we got down to 16 riders it was painful to figure out the six riders we had to knock off because there are so many amazing riders this year. However, after long discussions with multiple collegiate wakeboard heads, we were able to get this list down to 10. All of these riders shred hard and definitely deserve recognition.
10. Matt McCaleb
Matt McCaleb is a senior at Oklahoma State University and has been shredding the wake for 13 years. He has been competing in collegiate competitions for the past four years and has been killing it when he is able to avoid injury. This past semester Matt and the OSU wake team were only able to make it to one collegiate competition at Cypress Black Bayou in Shreveport, Louisiana. He ended up taking first place in the open division and his team took first overall.
Matt loves doing big technical tricks with stylish grabs. He has also recently learned switch front mobes behind the boat. Matt has been worked a couple of times on the front mobe, but he is still doing it and get it locked down. He has also been working on switch blind judges and trying to link up his heelside and toeside front 7's behind the boat.
Matt's ideal boat ride is shredding behind the Super Air Nautique 210 on the 138 Hyperlite Union at Lake Hiwassee. Matt is sponsored by Core Extreme Sports. His favorite wakeboard memories consist of “chillin’ on the lake with his family and friends.” Wakeboarding is the link that really introduced Matt to most of the people with whom he surrounds himself. You can be sure to see Matt, along with the rest of the OSU Wake Team, at the USA Collegiate Wakeboard Nationals in Shreveport, Louisiana.
9. Logan Farris
Logan Farris is a senior at Florida State University and has been wakeboarding for 15 years on his home lake of Lake Bradford in Tallahassee, Florida. This is Logan's first year on the FSU wake team and his first year competing in the collegiate series. He did pretty well this season in the two Collegiate Wake Series stops he attended. Logan took second place at the Atlanta stop to Damien Adam and fourth place at the Tampa stop, where the conditions were brutal.
Logan's favorite trick to throw is a heelside roll to blind and he has just recently learned a switch heelside mute off-axis front 3. Logan would also like to start getting his toe 7’s more consistent and eventually learn whirly 5’s.
Logan rides on the 142 Wakeology Stoke with Liquid Force boots and his ideal ride would be on a 2005 Super Air Nautique 210 team edition at Lake Powell. Another interesting fact about Logan is that he is a paid water ski professional at Sea World in San Antonio, Texas. Logan's sponsors consist of Wakeology Wakeboards, Lip Rehab and Yankmeister Winch Co. Expect to see this Shredder at the Empire Wake Nationals this April at Lake Las Vegas in Nevada.
8. Pate Duddleston
Pate Duddleston is a sophomore at the University of Georgia. He has been wakeboarding for nine years on his home lake, Lake Tellico. Pate, along with UGA, was able to make it to three Empire Wake Stops this past season. He placed third in Atlanta, fourth in Charlotte and second in Tampa. He also placed second at Empire Wake Nationals in the individual division last spring. His biggest wakeboard achievement outside of collegiate wakeboarding was taking first place in the King of the Lake competition on Lake Lanier.
Pate's favorite trick to throw is an indy crow mobe and he just recently landed a heel front 7. He would also like to start working on a nose-grabbed back mobe 540 soon.
Pate shreds on the 136 Liquid Force Witness with the 2012 Transit boots behind the MasterCraft X-45. He loves the wake because he seems to land a new trick on it every time he rides. His favorite wakeboarding memory was the drive home after winning King of the Lake pounding monster and throwing the cans at street signs. He will be in Vegas this April for the Empire Wake Collegiate Nationals.
7. Ryan Platt
Ryan Platt is a senior at Arizona State University and hails from Folsom, California. He has been shredding for 14 years and this past year he has just been killing it on the boat learning so many new tricks and adding a lot of style to his riding. He had a great year at the collegiate competitions where he took first at the Empire Wake Sacramento Boat and Cable competition, first at the USA Wakeboard Boise competition and third at the Empire Wake Dallas Competition. He also led the Arizona State Wake Devils to their first-ever national championship.
Ryan’s favorite trick to throw is the crow mobe and he just recently learned a Dum Dum and a Moby Dick. Ryan's favorite place to ride is at Bullard's Bar in California and his favorite wake to ride behind is the Nautique G23. He rides the 2013 Liquid Force 143 Watson Hybrid with Shane bindings and his sponsors consist of Elevated Clothing and Liquid Force. You can expect to see Ryan at Empire Wake and USA Collegiate Nationals this spring to help his team try to win another national title.
6. Conor Bayuk
Conor Bayuk is a senior at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He has been shredding the wake for nine years and is one of the most stylish riders out there. He made it out to the Empire Wake Sacramento stop this year where he managed to place fourth, but still had a blast shredding the G23.
Conor is a strong believer that less is more and likes to put different grabs on simple tricks and poke them in different ways to add more style to his riding. All of his tricks are so clean and he will continue to perfect them no matter how good they look and feel. His favorite trick to throw is a method and he has one of the cleanest heelside tail grab to blinds out there. Conor has recently moved on to bigger tricks, just recently learning a heel back 540 and a heel back roll to blind.
Conor's favorite wake to ride behind is the MB Tomcat, which he gets to ride all the time on Lake McClure since he is a coach at the well-known West Coast Camps working with Mike Schwenne. He also loves shredding on Lake Ronix riding his Ronix Parks (camber) with Parks boots. His current sponsors are Ronix and Body Glove. His favorite wakeboarding memory was his first time attending West Coast Camps as a kid where he learned everything he knows about wakeboarding.
5. Adam Holdsworth
Adam Holdsworth is in his first year at the University of Tennessee and it’s his first year competing in collegiate wakeboarding. He is in his 18th season of wakeboarding, which is more than just about any other collegiate rider. He took first place at the Empire Wake Charlotte stop and second place in the USA Wakeboard Knoxville stop. Adam even competed in the Junior Pro Men division on the Pro Wakeboard Tour in Fort Worth back in 2009. He didn't ride very well, but he had a great time doing it.
Adam’s favorite tricks to throw are big 911’s and he is a big fan of poked out toeside grabs. The most recent trick Adam has learned is a skeezer that he landed on his very first attempt. Adam is known for going huge and throws one of the biggest Raley tricks I have ever seen.
Adam’s favorite lake to ride at is Norris Lake and that is part of the reason he chose University of Tennessee since it is right next to the lake. His favorite boat to ride behind is the Mastercraft X-Star rocking the 2014 Slingshot Oli with the 2014 RAD boots. Adam's favorite wakeboard memory was when he was 13 getting to spend the week at The Projects. The boat was in the shop, so every day he had the opportunity to ride at Shaun Murray's house (same lake as The Projects) and was able to hang out with a lot of the pros. Adam is hoping that the University of Tennessee will be able to make it to both national events this year!
4. Colby Bernier
Colby Bernier is a junior at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. He has been riding for 10 years and his switch riding is just about as good as his regular riding. Colby took first place at the USA Wakeboard Knoxville stop and took second place at USA Collegiate Wakeboard Nationals. He also has great accomplishments outside of collegiate wakeboarding. Colby took first place at Wake Games, first at Nationals and third at Worlds all in the Men I division. Colby is an awesome competition rider.
Colby loves throwing huge indy glides and he has identical looking regular and switch heelside backside 540’s. He recently learned a whirlybird 540 that he is super stoked on!
Colby loves going out on his home lake of Lake Mitchell and practicing on the 2014 Malibu Wakesetter LSV. Colby rides the 2014 Hyperlite Marek Nova with the Process System bindings. His sponsors include Skiers Marine, 69 Slam, Zeal Optics, Airwalk Trampoline Arena and Hyperlite. Colby will definitely be at USA Collegiate Wakeboard Nationals as he attempts to turn that second place into a first.
3. Nick Vaccari
Nick Vaccari is a junior at Louisiana State University and he is one of only two riders to make the top ten both last year and this year. Nick is from Covington, Louisiana and has been riding for 10 years. He competed in one Collegiate Competition this season so far, which was at Bennett's Boat and Ski School where he placed first. Some of his achievements outside of collegiate wakeboarding this past year were placing first in Men I at the WWA Wake Park Nationals and second in Men I at the Nautique Nationals (boat). He even got the chance to ride in the Bahamas this year, which sounds pretty dope.
Nick has been riding a lot of cable ever since Cajun X Cables opened up in Lafayette, Louisiana. Nick has been working on a lot of style this past year getting his methods really clean and learning some rewind tricks. His most recent trick is a Pete Rose on the cable.
When Nick is at home you can find him on the Tchefuncte River behind the 2013 MasterCraft X-Star riding on the 136 Liquid Force Witness. When he is at Cajun X Cable he shreds the 140 Liquid Force Peak. Nick's sponsors are Liquid Force and Rukus. He is hoping to be able to make it to Shreveport this year for the USA Collegiate Wakeboard Nationals.
2. Freddie Wayne
Freddie Wayne is a sophomore at the University of Florida. This is his second year competing with the Florida wake team and his second year on the top ten list. He is one of the most advanced riders of his age and has been riding for 14 years. Freddie was only able to make it to one collegiate stop this year due to a conflict with college exams. He was able to make it to the USA Collegiate Wakeboard regional hosted by his school. Freddie took second place to Damien Adam, which was a very close battle. Freddie also had a great year of wakeboarding in professional competitions. He ended up ranked third overall on the Overton's Junior Pro Tour, got second place at the Junior Masters competition and picked up multiple Junior Pro Men podiums on the PWT.
Freddie recently learned to grab his Pete Rose and he has been working on switch heel front 1080’s off the double up, which he feels he is really close to landing.
Freddie rides the 2014 Hyperlite Murray with Webb boots and System bindings. His ideal riding set up would be behind the Malibu Wakesetter MXZ riding in Brisbane, Australia. Freddie even got to live in Australia for a while with Harley Clifford, which was a great opportunity for him to improve his riding. Freddie's sponsors consist of Hyperlite, Malibu Boats, Body Glove, Performance Ski and Surf and Shred Ready. He is really hoping he will be able to make it to both Nationals this year.
1. Damien Adam
Damien Adam is a sophomore at Rollins College. He came to the state all the way from Mauritius, a small island off the coast of Madagascar, where he used to ride on the Indian Ocean behind the island’s only wakeboard boat (an Axis A22). His reason for leaving Mauritius was to go to school and compete on the Junior Pro Men Tour, which he did last season. He was able to make it to every stop of the tour, which is a big accomplishment since riders are cut from the tour after the first few stops. Damien has killed it in the collegiate scene this past season getting first place at all three competitions he went to, including a first place finish at the Empire Wake Nationals individual division last spring. Damien has not lost a collegiate competition yet! I wonder how long he can hold this streak for.
Damien has a wide range of tricks including a toe 900, whirlybird 540, Pete Rose, heel off-axis backside 540 and his most recent trick, a cab 720 landing inward wrapped. He is currently working on a skeezer 540 that he probably will have landed by the time this article is posted.
Damien’s favorite wake to ride behind is the 2013 Master Craft X-Star and his favorite place to ride is a river in South Africa with Kevin Dry. He is currently rocking the 2013 Hyperlite Marek with 2014 Marek bindings. Damien has no sponsors other than his parents, so sponsors get at this kid because he kills it! You will definitely see Damien in Vegas this year at the Empire Wake Nationals and probably on the Pro Tour next season.