Jumping, dodging and flipping — that’s what the UCSB water ski team has been doing at its four fall tournaments – setting personal bests and establishing its name in the Western Region. UCSB competed in their last fall event, the Western Region Water Ski Championships, just last weekend.
“The men’s jump team finished third at Regionals. That’s never been done before,” senior Scott Blyleven said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify for nationals.”
The men’s slalom team came in sixth, but the men’s trick team’s ninth-place finish hurt the team’s chances for nationals. The women’s slalom team finished eighth, with impressive personal records by senior Ashley Cooley, senior Molly Okuness, and junior Elise Galdin. Sophomore Brilynn O’Neal set a personal best in the jump competition and will be a strong contender this year, after learning to water ski as a freshman.
The records come after an exciting season of noteworthy performances. At the first competition, the Fall Opener found Crescent Bar Fall Open, sophomore AJ Schrader set a new school jump record of 98 feet. He also took fifth place overall at the Davis Tournament shortly thereafter.
Junior Jennifer Hoskinson took fifth overall for the women at the Davis Tournament, soaring 52 feet in the jumping competition. A triple-event skier, Hoskinson is ranked in the top 10 for both the slalom and the jump competitions in the Western Region, giving her potential Collegiate All-Star honors.
“Jen’s definitely the all-star of the team,” junior Elise Galdin said. “She’s placed well in all the tournaments and competes in all three events, the slalom, jump, and trick.”
This year, the team hopes to send five members to the Collegiate Water Ski Association’s All-Star Tournament in the spring. Last year, only three water skiers participated, but this team looks promising. Blyleven and Schrader are ranked 12th and 13th, respectively, in the region for men’s jumping and Blyleven holds the 12th spot for men’s slalom.
“We’re 12th and 13th, so we’re just outside the top 10,” Blyleven said. “But, we have the rest of the season to make it up.”
A bright future lies ahead for the team of 27. After a large recruitment of freshman last year, the team is young, but improving. The diversity of skills, experienced and inexperienced, water-skiers and wake-boarders, allows the team to compete in all events. The team practices two to five times a week at Sunrise Ranch Lake or Lake Nacimeinto, both a two-hour drive away. Galdin expects to see significant progress and growth in the future.
“We have built up the team doing a lot of recruiting,” Galdin said. “We’re getting lots of people who just love it. I joined because it was an extra-curricular activity where I met people with similar interests. It’s hard not to come to an event and not want to come again.”