By Jason Arndt
Aquanut Water Shows, of Twin Lakes, captured the Division 1 Wisconsin State Water Ski Tournament title for first time in 35 years during a July 15-18 competition at Red Sands Beach in Wisconsin Rapids.
But on July 31, at the Lance Park Amphitheater on the shores of Lake Mary, show directors Dan Boerman and Kailey Koehler finally hoisted the once elusive trophy in front of a packed home crowd.
Boerman said he didn’t initially realize the Aquanuts last state championship was in 1986, however, the show director acknowledged his team possessed the talent to snap the 35-year drought.
“It feels great, I didn’t even realize how long it has been since we last won, but we came into the season strong and we knew we had a great group of people,” he said.
The Aquanuts, which claimed multiple individual honors, had the top ballet line, barefoot skiing act, jump skiing act, pyramid act as well as best pick up boat drivers during the state competition.
In all, the Aquanuts took first in five of the eight categories, as well as top finishes from individual team members Ethan Shulda, Koehler and Jared Meyer.
Shulda, who hails from Twin Lakes, won the Most Valuable Skier Award while Koehler collected the female Most Valuable Skier Award.
Meyer, meanwhile, earned the award for top trick skier.
“Honestly, we did really well in several acts, we were awarded top barefoot act, top pyramid, top jump act, top ballet,” Boerman said. “We really had a full team effort to secure the win.”
Shulda achieved the top individual jump act on the first day of competition July 15 while teammate Cody Coffey placed sixth.
The Aquanuts edged out show skiing powerhouses Rock Aqua Jays, of Janesville, as well as Madison’s Mad-City team with 1,869.48 total points.
Mad-City finished second with 1,783.08 points while Rock Aqua Jays accounted for 1,760.76 to finish third.
“In those 49 years, they have always been entertain-ing and talented, but wins have been hard to get as clubs like the Rock Aqua Jays from Janesville and Mad City Ski Team from Madison who are much larger, have been the dominant big two for the past 20 years,” Aquanuts Treasurer Mark Gurda said in a previous news release.
Rock Aqua and Mad City, according to Boerman, will be tough competitors during the National Show Ski Association championships the weekend of Aug. 13-15.
“They are going to be formidable opponents at the national competition as well as Wonder Lake (Illinois), their team is also very strong,” Boerman said.
As for the state championship, co-show announcer Justin Mushel called it redemption for long-time Aquanut team members.
The Aquanuts boasts many members with decades of experience.
“For me, personally, it was great to see the people who have been on the Aquanuts their entire lives and never experienced a state championship to have that moment,” Mushel said.
Five represent Team USA
Meanwhile, on July 31, Gurda announced five team members will represent Team USA in the 2022 World Championship.
Cody and Kaila Coffey, as well as Koehler, Shulda and President Bob Koehler earned selections as Team USA representatives.
Bob Koehler will serve as a boat crew member while his daughter, Kailey, and Shulda have previously represented the United States in world competition.
Since the start of the season, the Aquanuts have performed to theme of “Ski Jam,” taking a page from the Looney Tunes flick “Space Jam.”
Ski Jam, according to the Aquanuts, is based on an alien invasion of Looney Tunes World.
“The evil aliens are looking for a new attraction on their planet and want to take the Tunes back for their entertainment,” the show program states. “The Tunes challenge them to a water ski competition to decide their fate and recruit the help of the Aquanuts to give the aliens some stiff competition.”
The Aquanuts, aside from Aug. 13-15 when the team competes in national competition, perform 6 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday on Lake Mary in Twin Lakes through Labor Day weekend.
The national tournament will be held at Traxler Park in Janesville and feature a live webcast.
For more information on the webcast, visit teamusa.org.