Several New Titlists Are Crowned in Knoxville

Several New Titlists Are Crowned in Knoxville

Knoxville, Tenn. – The top professional wakeboarders from throughout the globe hit the waters of Volunteer Landing today in downtown Knoxville to compete in the fifth and final stop of the 2011 MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour, presented by Rockstar Energy Drink. This year, the Pro Tour finale also doubled as the final contest in the eight-event King of Wake and Queen of Wake series, which meant twice as much was on the line for riders in Knoxville.

The Pro Men’s division highlighted the event, with top seed Phillip Soven and Aussie phenom Harley Clifford battling it out, as the top two contenders for both the Pro Tour title and the King of Wake crown.

Soven, 22, of the Longwood, Fla. entered today’s contest with a 45-point lead over Clifford in the Pro Tour standings and quickly secured the 2011 Pro Tour title after winning his semifinal heat.


“Coming into today, I knew I had the Pro Tour title all wrapped up,” said Soven. “But I still wanted to make it into finals to win the last Pro Tour stop.”

While Soven had a considerable lead in the Pro Tour standings, the defending King of Wake champion was only ahead of Clifford by a mere 10 points in the King of Wake series and needed a win today to keep his crown.

In the finals, Soven launched an arsenal of technical and big-air tricks, including a massive Whirly 720, Crow Mobe 540 and a Toe-side 900 in effort to keep his crown.


But Clifford’s Blind Pete Rose, Front Mobe 540 and a Toe-side 900 helped him edge Soven 85.00 to 80.00 to win his first-ever King of Wake crown.

“There was so much pressure today in the finals with Phil and I 10 points apart,” said Clifford. “But I was able to stand up my pass and come out ahead of him. I’m so pumped to win the King of Wake; it’s something I wanted to do for the last three years.”

Clifford, Soven and Rusty Malinoski round out the top three, respectively, in the King of Wake series.


The final Pro Tour standings saw Phillip Soven in first place overall, Harley Clifford in second place and Bob Soven in third place. The 2011 Pro Tour title marks Phillip Soven’s fourth overall title of his career – the third most in the Pro Tour’s 20-year history. Only wakeboarding legends Darin Shapiro and Parks Bonifay have more, with six and five titles, respectively.

The Pro Women’s division hosted its last round of action in the Queen of Wake series, as six finalists battled it out for the final win of the season. Top seed Amber Wing failed to advance to the finals, which left many fans wondering who would come out on top in Knoxville.

After taking down Wing in the semifinals, all eyes were on 13-year-old standout Taylor McCullough to see if the Illinois native could duplicate her run to win her first-ever Pro Tour contest.


But it was four-time World Cup titlist Raimi Merritt, who came out swinging with big tricks, like an S Bend, Tootsie Roll and two 540 variations to post the winning score of 78.33.

Today’s win marks Merritt’s first-ever Pro Tour stop victory.

“It feels awesome to win,” said Merritt. “I’ve been on Tour for three years and to finally win a stop is amazing. I’ve just been working on my consistency and to see it pay off, especially at the last stop of the year, gives me a lot of confidence heading into next season.”

Melissa Marquardt and Nicola Butler rounded out the Knoxville podium, respectively.

Despite missing the Pro Women finals, Aussie Amber Wing finished first place overall in the 2011 series to claim her first-ever Queen of Wake crown.

“I’m super stocked to win Queen of Wake,” said Wing. “It’s been a long, tough season and to see all the hard work pay off is really awesome.”

In Jr. Pro Men’s division, young gun Mike Dowdy made his Pro Tour finals debut today against Kyle Evans, Daniel Powers and current points leader Shota Tezuka.

While Dowdy turned heads after landing a Moby Dick 540 in his first-ever Pro Tour final run, all eyes however, remained on Daniel Powers to see if the 17-year-old Orlando, Fla. native would stretch his winning-streak to four consecutive Pro Tour stop victories.

All four Jr. Pro Men finalists threw down impressive runs, but Power’s Heel-side 540 off the double up lifted the 2011 Masters champion to his fourth straight Pro Tour stop victory.

Shota Tezuka and Mike Dowdy rounded out the podium, respectively.

Despite finishing in second place in Knoxville, Tezuka edged out Powers by seven points in the overall standings to capture his first-ever Jr. Pro Tour title.

“I can’t believe I won the Tour,” said Tezuka. “When I first started the season, I never expected to win. Now that the season is over, I’m going back home to celebrate and start training for the pro division next year.”

Tezuka is the first Japanese born rider to win the Jr. Pro Tour title.

The MasterCraft Pro Wakeboard Tour stop in Knoxville will air on the VERSUS television network on Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

**Sunday, August 28 Results:


Pro Men

Final Round – Heat #1

1    Harley Clifford    AUS    85.00

2    Phillip Soven    USA    80.00

3    Rusty Malinoski    CAN    75.00

4    Dean Smith    AUS    65.00

5    Jimmy LaRiche    USA    55.00

6    Adam Errington    USA    85.00

Pro Women

Final Round – Heat #1

1    Raimi Merritt    USA    78.33

2    Melissa Marquardt    USA    66.67

3    Nicola Butler    GBR    62.33

4    Tarah Mikacich    USA    58.33

5 Taylor McCullough    USA    46.67

6    Emily Durham    USA    28.33

Jr. Pro Men

Final Round – Heat #1

1    Daniel Powers    USA    87.75

2    Shota Tezuka    JPN    87.00

3    Mike Dowdy    USA    84.25

4    Kyle Evans    USA    81.00

Pro Men

Semifinal Round – Heat #1

1    Harley Clifford    AUS    78.333

2    Adam Errington    USA    68.33

3    Dean Smith    AUS    63.33

4    Shane Bonifay    USA    59.33

5    Bob Soven    USA    41.67

Pro Men

Semifinal Round – Heat #2

1    Phillip Soven    USA    86.67

2    Rusty Malinoski    CAN    76.67

3    Jimmy LaRiche    USA    55.00

4    Steel Lafferty    USA    50.83

5    Austin Hair    USA    21.67

Jr. Pro Men

Semifinal Round – Heat #1

1    Daniel Powers    USA    89.00

2    Kyle Evans    USA    88.25

3    Dylan Prideaux    AUS    81.00

4    Tony Iacconi    AUS    80.25

5    Gordon Harrison    USA    61.50

Jr. Pro Men

Semifinal Round – Heat #2

1    Shota Tezuka    JPN    97.25

2    Mike Dowdy    USA    83.25

3    Freddie Wayne    USA    82.00

4    Marc Kroon    NED    71.00

5    Robby Holihan    USA    66.50

Pro Men

Quarterfinal Round– Heat #1

1    Rusty Malinoski    CAN    75.00

2    Jimmy LaRiche    USA    63.33

3    Aaron Rathy    CAN    58.33

4    JD Webb    USA    53.33

Pro Men

Quarterfinal Round– Heat #2

1    Steel Lafferty    USA    76.67

2    Austin Hair    USA    66.67

3    Shaun Murray    USA    60.00

4    Kirby Liesmann    USA    51.67

Pro Men

Quarterfinal Round– Heat #3

1    Bob Soven    USA    73.33

2    Dean Smith    AUS    61.67

3    Joey Bradley    USA    48.33

4    Kyle Rattray    CAN    38.33

Pro Men

Quarterfinal Round– Heat #4

1    Harley Clifford    AUS    80.00

2    Adam Errington    USA    70.00

3    Andrew Adkison    USA    63.33

4    Danny Thollander    USA    40.00

Pro Men

Quarterfinal Round– Heat #5

1    Phillip Soven    USA    76.67

2    Shane Bonifay    USA    58.33

3    AJ Racinelli    USA    50.00

4    Shawn Watson    USA    41.67