Whizzing across the glistening lake with the sun shining and teammates cheering, the Michigan club water ski team was ready to shred at the Midwest Collegiate Waterskiing Regionals.
After 2 days of competition, the Wolverines clinched a berth to Nationals for the third straight year. Junior president and co-captain Kevin Tague’s 100-foot jump earned Michigan fifth place and put the Wolverines just five points ahead of Missouri State University.
“We came in really excited and confident,” senior Erika Bramlett said. “We practiced real hard throughout the summer, and in September, and truly deserved to be out there.”
From September 26-27 in Decatur, Ill., 16 water ski teams competed to earn a berth to Nationals. The top three teams at the Regional compete in Division I while the fourth and fifth place finishers will be competing in the Division II this Thursday in Chandler, AZ.
Each fall, the Michigan water ski team participates in three regular season tournaments, which consist of 10 to 25 teams competing in slalom, trick skiing and jumping. Points are earned in each event based on completion of the course, form, and skill.
“We know how good we are, and we know how hard we work to get to where we are,” junior Danielle Liffmann said. “It’s so fun to compete, and show what you can do out on the water.”
The Wolverines’ first event was the slalom, in which the women finished fifth and the men 11th.
The Wolverines then clinched third in the trick competition to keep their National hopes alive.
“We were nervous, man, real nervous,” said junior co-captain Colin Ivey. “But at the same time, we knew that our women are good jumpers and would put up a good fight.”
The next day in the jumping competition, every wolverine skier landed at least one jump, a rarity amongst co-ed club water ski teams.
Senior Julia Roberts crushed her personal best with a 59-foot jump, and junior Torrey Richardson nailed a spectacular 45-foot leap. But after being carried by the women throughout the competition, the team’s qualifying score depended on the final event, Men’s Jump.
With the Wolverines in fourth place overall, the Michigan men finished in dramatic fashion. Senior Mike McCray and sophomore rookie Brendan Kirchner both posted personal bests with 77 and 76-foot jumps, respectively. With Tague’s last jump of 100 feet, the Wolverines learned they clinched fifth and were headed to Arizona.
The Michigan club water ski team invites new skiers to join their team. From skiing on the weekends to competing in events, the team welcomes all types of skiers from any background and experience. Interested students can visit the team’s website at umwaterski.com.
“We know how much we want to win this competition, and getting first place would definitely be pretty sweet,” Ivey said. “One thing is for sure: We are determined to bring the Division II title back to Ann Arbor.”