LBW students to ride wakes in national competition

Published 1:32 am Saturday, September 27, 2008

Andalusia High School senior Blake Sasser and Lurleen B. Wallace Community College student Dustin Dyess will be traveling to Bakersfield, Calif., next Monday to take part in a national wakeboarding competition.

Both Sasser and Dyess are a part of the INT League, which is one of the largest wakeboarding, waterski, wakeskate and kneeboard tours in the United States.

Dyess said wakeboarding is a combination of snowboarding and surfing.

“It’s kind of like a mixture of snowboarding and surfing,” Dyess said. “You’re on a surfboard with sandals being pulled behind a boat with a rope.”

This is Dyess’s second summer participating in the sport and his first year of competition.

“I got second in the state and Blake ended up first,” Dyess said. “State competition was held at Oak Mountain State Park in August and there were a total of six competitors in the Novice division.”

The INT splits up the competition into divisions such as, intro, novice, amateur, intermediate and advanced.

The competition in California is called California Dreamin, which is a part of the INT League and Sasser said this is different than state.

“The national event is a two-day event,” Sasser said. “At the state competition you have two passes, which is one run. At the nationals you’re going to have four passes, which is two runs. They’re going to take the best score out of those two and compare it to everybody else’s score. We’re probably going to ride on different days because we are in different divisions.”

At the state competition, Sasser won first place and Dyess won second in their respective divisions.

The scoring at the competition is based on how many “tricks” each wakeboarder performs correctly, according to Dyess.

“Each trick you do is worth so many points and whoever gets the top tricks,” Dyess said. “But if there is two competitors that have the same tricks then they go by style points. That is when they judge how big you throw the trick and land it.”

Sasser got into wakeboarding after noticing the sport in a magazine.

“I noticed these guys that were way up in the air and having these boards at their feet,” Sasser said. “So, I did some research on it and learned a little bit on it and I talked my dad into getting a cheap wakeboard and then I started doing it.

“I didn’t take it seriously at first,” he said. “The summer after that I started wakeboarding some more and my dad told me about the INT competition. We started going out everyday on a deck boat. The year before last, we got a 2003 Centurion wakeboarding boat and that’s when I really got serious about it.”

Dyess said he got into wakeboarding two years later than Sasser.

“I didn’t really get into wakeboarding until last year,” Dyess said. “I’ve known Blake and his family for the past six or seven years. I really wasn’t too hot about it at first, but I started getting it up and it was pretty fun. Blake’s dad talked me into competing and it went from there.”

The reason why Dyess and Sasser wakeboard is to escape and keep physically fit.

“For me, wakeboarding is honestly a way of escaping,” Dyess said. “It’s just something to do and the reason I do it a lot now is because of the competition. I enjoy it because I can get out on the lake with some of my closest friends.”

Sasser said he enjoys wakeboarding because of the competition.

“I used to play sports from when I was small, mainly baseball until in ninth grade,” Sasser said. “I got burned out on baseball and wasn’t’ doing anything. I found wakeboarding and have been doing it every since. It’s kept me in shape and out of trouble.”

Sasser is the son of Allen and Sharon Sasser of Andalusia and Dyess is the son of Adrian and Tina Dyess of Andalusia.

Both plan to study engineering at Auburn University.