Trent Giddings, Staff Writer

The trip from Lakeland to West Palm Beach is 3 hour long, 171 mile journey. It seemed much further than that for sophomore Ellie Rae Horton who, only months before, was unable to ski due to an injury.

Horton shattered her talus bone in her ankle leaving her unable to ski for months.

“I was off the water for 7 months, which really set me back,” Horton said. “I became out of shape for water skiing and lost a lot of my rhythm. It has been a long journey to complete recovery.”

Horton entered the jump portion of the contest as the favorite to win.

“I was ranked the top seed, which was a big confidence booster. I took that confidence with me on the water, gave it my all and succeeded,” Horton said.

Horton’s highest jump reached 127 feet, the longest jump the tournament had seen in three years. She also placed ninth in slalom and second in tricks, winning her the championship title.

“The mere fact that I was able to win after a tough season meant the world to me. It didn’t matter that I was a younger competitor in my age group,” Horton said.

In addition to Horton, freshman Cole McCormick’s 5,400 score in the tricks competition aided in his championship win.

“I just kept thinking about the tips I was getting from my dad in practice that helped my trick be more consistent,” McCormick said.

McCormick left the competition with bronze medals in both the slaloms competition and jumps.

The competition, the GOODE National Championship at Okeeheeleee Park was a national amateur tournament not associated with the NCAA. The competition allowed athletes to compete within designated age groups in tricks, jumps and slaloms.

McCormick and Horton both won national champion titles and their teammates were also sucessful in the tournament. Junior K.C. Wilson won ninth place in the slaloms competition, junior Luke Lockwood also took ninth in the slaloms and freshman David Fulton took sixth in the jumps with a 123 foot jump and 16th in the slaloms.

Junior Lauren Morgan took second in the jumps competition sophomore Lauren Hill took sixth in slaloms and tenth in tricks, sophomore Amy Rocker took 14th in slaloms and former Moc skier and current coach Jessica Dobertin took 19th in the slalom competition.