Aqua Jays to host first tournament of the season

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Shelly Birkelo
Thursday, June 19, 2014

JANESVILLE—Until about two and a half weeks ago, high water on the Rock River had kept the Rock Aqua Jays from practicing at their home site in Traxler Park.

That hasn't kept the local water ski club from gearing up for its first competition of the season.

The Aqua Jays will host the Mercury Open Water Ski Show Tournament on Saturday at Traxler Park Nine teams are expected to compete.

"We've become a pretty good road team over the last five years with all the flooding we've had," said show director Aaron Schoelzel. "We've learned to travel well to other sites to practice."

Winning the first tournament of the season is important, he said.

"It's a confidence booster and a measuring stick to see where we are at, at this point, compared to our competition," Schoelzel said.

Wonder Lake, the Backwater Gamblers and Twin Lakes are expected to be the Aqua Jays' stiffest competition.

"Everybody is looking to take down the reigning champions," Schoelzel said, referring to the fact the Aqua Jays won the Mercury Open, state and national water ski show tournaments last year.

The team's biggest challenge is that many of its 70-some skiers are young.

"Getting some of the younger people to understand what it takes to win can be challenging," Schoelzel said. "The big thing is to make them aware of the small things that make the Aqua Jays the Aqua Jays—attention to details and being prepared."

Schoelzel said the 2014 "Batman" show theme will feature 13 scored acts and "is coming along very well."

But, "It will evolve over the course of the season," he said.

Those attending Saturday's tournament will see teams from both Wisconsin and Illinois.

"The audience will see everything from very small teams to teams the size of the Rock Aqua Jays," Schoelzel said.

There will be plenty of parking, bleacher seating, food, snacks and beverages to buy along with items for sale at the boutique, he said.

A beer tent will be open from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and a local band will perform after the Aqua Jays compete.

"We are skiing last because it's closer to our (semi-weekly) show time, so it's more natural," Schoelzel said.

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