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College sports making an inroad at Chula Vista Olympic Training Center Phillip Brents | Tue, Apr 30 2013 05:18 PM

The Chula Vista United States Olympic Training Center is home not only to future Olympians — and past Olympic medalists — but also serves as a home base for a variety of sports competitions, collegiate sports in particular.

The sprawling 155-acre eastern Chula Vista facility served as a host venue for USA Volleyball’s Beach Collegiate Challenge, held March 14-17, and most recently served as the site for last Saturday’s ACIS Fitness National Championship.

ACIS is the acronym for American Collegiate Intramural Sports, an organization striving to create opportunities for students, sponsors and schools to mutually benefit through sports and fitness-related promotional activities. There are approximately 250 member colleges and universities in the ACIS network, making it America’s largest participatory college sports program.

Last Saturday’s single-day national championship event (all expenses were paid for the competing teams) was the culmination of the past year’s ACIS Fitness campus programs, according to ACIS President Ian Leopold.

“We have 3.2 million kids involved nationally and 1 million of them are actively participating in the program each day,” Leopold said.

Athletes from the eight top performing schools gathered at the CV OTC site to determine the national champion through a series of fitness-oriented competitions. Events included a Navy SEALs obstacle course, BMX bike race, beach volleyball tournament and a tug of war.

The four-person coed team (two men, two women) representing San Diego State University emerged as the winning team with 68 points after tabulating scores from the four events. Baylor and Cornell tied for second place with 64 points each.

Rounding out the team standings were foursomes representing the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (fourth, 54 points) and Cal State University Long Beach (fifth, 48 points), followed by Wisconsin-Whitewater (sixth, 44 points), University of Wisconsin-Madison (seventh, 40 points) and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (eighth, 34 points).

The event was taped and will be broadcast in its entirety on Fox Sports San Diego and its affiliates later this summer.

“I think it was great to have all these athletes from all over the country come here and compete,” Leopold said. “You had athletes from Ithaca, N.Y., and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and two teams from Wisconsin. And, of course, we had the local team from San Diego State, which added to the competition.”

SDSU team members included Mike Nguyen, Jack Waddell, Aimee Orozco and Lindsay Miller.

The awards ceremony took place in the courtyard behind the OTC’s visitors center with the Olympic flame serving as an appropriate backdrop. Athletes received medals (gold/silver/ bronze) for each of the four competitions as well as overall team finish.

Orozco called competing in the ACIS Fitness national championship event “a once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.

“We were very close and worked well together as a team,” Nguyen added

“It was kind of exciting to see which part of the country had the best athletes,” Waddell interjected.

ACIS partners national sponsors with students and schools across the country to enhance existing recreational sports and fitness programs on campus by adding funding and student giveaways. ACIS sponsorships have helped create intramural flag football, basketball and fitness sponsorship programs.
ACIS Fitness has been holding national championship competitions for five years; the previous four national championship events took place at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Leopold said weather was one of the factors in moving the event to the Chula Vista OTC venue.

“Once we got here, we saw some other possibilities that we integrated into our event,” said Leopold, whose wife is a graduate of both Montgomery High School and SDSU. “The Olympic training center in Colorado Springs is truly a magnificent facility and has an unbelievable swimming complex that we, of course, utilized while we were there.

“When we toured this facility in Chula Vista, we saw the lake and wanted to do kayak. But we were told there were limitations on what we could do in one day. But we saw the BMX courses and said why not and, of course, with the sand volleyball pit that made beach volleyball a natural choice.”

Leopold said the strong military presence in the San Diego region helped create the vision for the Navy SEALs obstacle course that kicked off last Saturday’s event. The obstacle course seemed to be the consensus favorite among the competing athletes, followed closely by beach volleyball.

A tug of war rounded out the day’s slate of events.

The laid-back Southern California atmosphere, not to mention the absence of sudden snow storms, made it a fun and entertaining event for all. 

“I’ve really enjoyed this except for BMX,” explained Baylor’s Jake Talbert, who competed in football, basketball and track and field in high school. “Beach volleyball is really what I came to play.”

All for one
All four team members competed in the obstacle course, with each team’s total time to complete the course determining final teams points. Events included a buddy carry, tire navigation, cargo net climb, balance logs, river traverse, log toss, low crawl, backpack relay and tire drag.

The combination of all four team members’ best times on the BMX course determined final points. For beach volleyball, rally scoring was implemented to determine a winner through one-game elimination bracket play.

The single-elimination tug of war competition, also held in the sand volleyball pit, was a perfect finale for TV cameramen to film with grimacing close-ups of competitors’ faces.

SDSU came out on top in the BMX competition while placing second in beach volleyball and the tug of war.

Baylor defeated SDSU to win both the beach volleyball competition (UNC-Chapel Hill) was third) and the tug of war. The Texas team also finished third in BMX.

Cornell earned top points in the obstacle course and finished runner-up in BMX. Long Beach State finished second in the obstacle course while Wisconsin-Madison was third in the obstacle course and UNLV was third in the tug of war.

The 2012 ACIS flag football national championship event took place Dec. 29-31 at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. A location is still to be determined for the network’s national basketball championship event.

For more information, visit www.acisports.com.

Life’s a beach

March’s USAV sand tournament featured women’s doubles teams from Pepperdine University, Florida State University, University of Nebraska and Grand Canyon University. The event was free to the public and attracted a particularly large contingent of Nebraska fans.

Pepperdine finished 3-0 while Florida State went 2-1. Pepperdine’s No. 1 pair of Lilla Frederick and Kim Hill finished No. 1 overall by defeating Florida State’s No. 2 team of Jace Pardon and Marija Milosavjevic in the finals of the Gold Bracket 21-16, 21-14.

In the Gold Bracket semifinals, Frederick and Hill defeated Pepperdine’s No. 2 team of Lara Dykstra and Caitlin Racich 21-18, 21-17.

Next up
The Chula Vista Community Fun Run 5K, slated for May 11, is intended for all levels of runners while allowing strollers and families to participate in a fun and engaging environment at the CV Olympic Training Center. The gates open at 6:30 a.m. and the run/walk starts at 8 a.m. with an expo to follow.

The course spread out through the OTC.  Runners, walkers, dogs, families and strollers will weave through the multiple sport venues at the training facility. The revised course for 2013 will run underneath the London-replica BMX track start ramp.

Proceeds from the Fun Run benefit the Friends of Chula Vista Parks and Recreation to help support Chula Vista’s Recreation programs and services.  For more information, visit: http://www.chulavistaca.gov/goto/funrun/.

USA Cycling will host its standalone Elite BMX national championship event at the CV-OTC on May 18.This elite and junior elite BMX race will take place on the Beijing replica track and will determine who will wear the prestigious Stars & Stripes jersey at the world championship competition. 

Admission is free, though there will likely be a charge for parking.  Practice begins at 9:15 a.m. with racing to follow at 11 a.m. and the awards ceremony at 12:45 p.m. State championship races will take place on the newly renovated ABA track by the visitor center beginning at 3:30 p.m. Find more information at www.usacycling.org/2013/elite-bmx-nationals. 

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