After finishing third six times in the previous 24 national water-skiing tournaments, the Rock Island-based Backwater Gamblers earned their best spot ever -- second place -- in this past weekend's 40th Division 1 Show Ski National Championships, narrowly missing the chance to unseat a multiple repeat national champion.
The Rock Aqua Jays Water Ski Show Team of Janesville, Wis., won the national team title for the fourth straight year, and its 19th overall national team title, at its home site on the Rock River at Traxler Park in Janesville.
The team tallied 1,966.58 points, compared to 1,900.52 points for the Backwater Gamblers, which did win the top award for pyramid water-skiing. The team previously finished third at nationals in 1990, 1991, 2003, 2004, 2010, and 2012.
This past weekend's tournament featured 14 teams and more than 1,500 athletes competing for the coveted show ski national title. Each club has one hour to present a theatrical performance on water skis. Judges score acts by awarding points based on originality, presentation and execution, according to a release from USA Water Ski.
The Backwater Gamblers offer free shows on the Rock River, at the foot of 44th Street in Rock Island, on Wednesdays and Sundays at 6:30 p.m. The last show of the season will be at 6:30 p.m. on Labor Day.
Today is Sunday, Sept. 21, the 264th day of 2014. There are 101 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We hear that Col. Reynolds has employed C.D. Merrill to drill for water to supply the Rock Island Barracks. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Billy Catton, famous billard player, returned to Rock Island with a view to making this city his home in the future. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The belief is growing that a great decisive battle of the World War was being fought at Verdun, a strong fortress of France on the Meuse near the French frontier, according to a London dispatch. 1939 -- 75 years ago: William Stremmel, 91, Rock Island's last Civil War veteran, died. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Workmen of the Midwest Wrecking Co., Clinton, have begun razing the historic old office building of Deere & Co., 1325 3rd Ave., Moline. The site will be used by the Deere Plow Works for its shipping and receiving department. 1989 -- 25 years ago: East Moline developer Jim Massa says the financial package for the proposed $34.5 million Quad City International Motor Speedway is down to making sure "all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed. Finalizing this will give the green light to see if NASCAR and CART, the auto racing sanctioning bodies, approve race dates.