../events/1988 AFA Masters finals

Sources: BMX Plus! march 1989, Freestylin #48 april 1989, Josh Marsele, www.vintagebmx.com, The Ride of my Life, Todd Carter, Ride BMX US, krtschmidt.com, The Zine 16, ...
If you want to add any info, please contact buissonrouge@23mag.com.
Date: November 12-13, 1988.
Place: Wichita, Kansas.

Freestylin #48 april 1989: A souped-up late 1970's family car rolled by us on the cruising strip its cherry red paint job highlighted with eight-inch tall lettering on the door with a scripture I may never forget. It read 'MUST ROCK' in white letters with fancy scrolling around the slogan that would take on a new meaning as the weekend progressed. Where else could this kind of thing take place but Wichita, Kansas? Well actually, there are probably a lot of places where similar things have been witnessed on the local friday night cruising strip, but what I'm really referring to are the finals -as in the AFA Masters round 8. The absolute apex of freestyle for 1988. The place where it all came down to the wire, where the new tricks were debuted, where all the riders converged and shredded without mercy, fans going wild over anything and everything. Well ... or something like that.
Freestylin #48 april 1989: Well, you know how it is with flatland these days. Everything being done pretty much stems from Kevin Jones moves. If you could death truck, dump truck, rope-a-roni (forward or regular), hang-five, or pull many consecutive whiplashes, you were in them as far as being upon the latest ALTHOUGH, keep in mind that connections and variations of the above tricks were what scored points with the judges as well as the rest of the guys in your respective class If it was a rad hang five variation, Jay Jones was probably doing it, cross armed side-saddled, backwards no-footed, whatever it takes, baby give him a thumbs-up for trick difficulty, a thumbs-sideways for his placing (he didn't qualify despite his amazing front wheel tricks)
The turnout was less than expected ... comparable to the season opener last January in Florida. Factory attendance was down, and many of the companies chose to send only riders in contention for number one titles to Wichita. This meant that there were tons of unknown, semi-known, and getting pretty well known guys ripping. Names you may or may not have heard of (but most likely will begin to hear in the future) are Bill Neuman -a 16 year old flatlander from Michigan who's been the man lately in the jam circles and on the contest floor. Pedaling pedal pickers, hang-fives into Dave dusters, forward rope-a-ronis, and an overall suave appearance belong to Bill, as did the win this weekend.
John Huddleston. Yes, the guy is cool. He breaks an axle in practice shortly before his qualifying run, but instead of freaking out he just kind of casually begins asking around to see if he can ride someone else's bike for his run. Later that day he won 17 Flatland. beating Gerry Smith in a run-off that had everybody on their feet. Huddleston avoids the current rolling rage and instead- concentrates on doing any trick into locomotives or freak squeaks, and spinning around in circles tighter than humanly possible. Gerry, on the other hand, is quite the master of the rolling thing. Items like these are what you'll find in his shopping basket: backwards half-lash into forward rope-a-ronis, into this thing which has been dubbed a Smith -a decade with your inside foot hanging on the front peg ... let's see, dump trucks and cross-handed can-can hang-fives (side-saddles) are also in Smith's realm.
Park Carter drew approval from the rest as he displayed things like a rad girlfriend and a one-footed trolley glide. Eric Emerson, Aaron Dull, and Carly Garcia are probably the three best riders from Northern California when it comes to ground. Eric finished behind a Skyway-mounted Carl Argila in 15 Flatland. Aaron didn't do much and Carly Garcia should have definitely won 13 Flatland. Eric Evans and newcomer Mike Smith (no relation to Gerry) both finished in front of him.

Josh Marsele, www.vintagebmx.com: I was at the AFA finals in Kansas in late 1988. From what I know, that was Fiola's last comp...after having been gone for nearly a year. I saw his flatland run and it was really cool, though he didn't do anything new (and did touch several times) - but he just did everything with a ton of style. He ended up getting 5th (which was last, a very low Pro turnout). I think the crowd booed that. They didn't think Dennis Langlais should have beat him. Langlais only touched once in four minutes but he was sketchy and his intermediate-level tricks lacked style. I don't know how he did on ramps. I know he didn't get last cuz that was the comp Wilkerson did a Nothing into a flat-bottom faceplant and got knocked into a coma.
I personally thought Eddie should've beaten Woody on ground, too. Woody got third, but his routine was a mess. Rode to some boring Scorpion song, did old tricks and just looked like he was in a funk or something. It was kinda hard to see my hero go out like that. Pretty much any aged expert in the top ten of their class coulda smoked him. That was his last flatland comp. DMC and Moliterno battled it out for the win and Rick came out on top. I don't think Rick entered anymore flat comps, but maybe focused on street and competed on that venue at his skatepark and/or elsewhere.

Greg Macomber pulled a double whiplash on his 20" Hutch with the semi-high forkpegs.
A high speed display of sight and sound is what one might call a Dennis McCoy routine. Rick beat him on ground, but Dennis didn't seem to be too worried as he walked away with the Ramp, Overall, and both 1988 Pro titles. Quite a collection

Josh Marsele, www.vintagebmx.com: Cotter was the master of the bar ride tricks. In Kansas I saw him do a scurfer (one-footed surfer, take foot off seat) where he gets his leg HIGHER THAN HIS HEAD, then CANDYBARS his free foot over the crossbar, then finishes with the rolling doom to bar ride. Insane.

Pro flat:
1.Rick Moliterno
2.Dennis McCoy
3. Dennis Langlais
4.Woody Itson
5.Eddie Fiola

19 & Over Flatland
1. Pat Wright
2. Derrick Orrie
3. Guy Horsey
4. (Tie) Robert Castillo
4. Dino DeLuca

18 Flatland
1. Darren Pelio
2. Chris Mitchell
3. Sean Leslie
4. Perry Mervar
5. Joe Alder

17 Flatland
1. John Huddleston
2. Gerry Smith
3. Jeff Cotter
4. Joe Gruttola
5. Steve Goates

16 Flatland
1. Bill Neuman
2. Tommy Simpson
3. Ruben Castillo
4. Danny Meng
5. (Tie)  Todd Carter
5. Jeff Rugg

15 flatland
1. Carl Argila
2. Eric Emerson
3. Steve Wright
4. (Tie) Chris Moeller
4. Brandon Cole

14 Flatland
1. Jamie West
2. Brian Miller
3. Cary Conover
4. Armando Adams
5. Bill Gawrych

13 & Under Flatland
1. Eric Evans
2. Mike Smith
3. Carly Garcia
4. David Craddock
5. Gregg Macomber
Dennis McCoy

Krt Schmidt, krtschmidt.com, november 2007: Eddie Fiola's Pro Flatland run from the AFA Finals in Wichita, Kansas 1988.

Krt Schmidt, krtschmidt.com, november 2007: Woody Itson's Pro Flatland run from the AFA Finals in Wichita, Kansas 1988.

Krt Schmidt, krtschmidt.com, november 2007: Dennis McCoy's Pro Flatland run from the AFA Finals in Wichita, Kansas 1988.

Krt Schmidt, krtschmidt.com, november 2007: Rick Moliterno's Pro Flatland run from the AFA Finals in Wichita, Kansas 1988.

Krt Schmidt, krtschmidt.com, november 2007: John Huddleston was somewhat of a legendary rider. His popularity in the sport was only surpassed by his innovative tricks. Rolling tricks were becoming the norm but Huddleston’s originality won over everyone. There was a big head-to-head in th 17 & Over Expert Flatland class. John Huddleston VS. Gerry Smith (Inventor of the Gerry Smith Decade). This video includes John’s run and run-off. Enjoy.
Freestylin #48 april 1989: Ramp variations were pretty much the same as per usual. Decade and cherry-picker dropins are all the rage these days - Rick Thorne had the crowd on edge throughout the day as he decaded into the ramp. Disasters (I've heard them called 50/50's too) are rapidly gaining popularity, as are tailtaps and other moves involving the lip in one way or another.
For most riders it was pretty mellow. Titles in freestyle have lost their significance a bit now that there's so many different divisions, although everybody who won one seemed pretty stoked. The only time it really came down to the wire that I can think of is in 15 Ramp, where Beau Cobb won the title by two points in front of Ryan Dunnman. Yes, two points.
Speaking with Josh White, before his run it was revealed that he was in contention to take the Pro Ramp title for the year... IF he could pull off a win. Pressure got to him and Josh ended up finishing 5th.
The first pro to ride was Wilkerson. He went out and did his routine, and the crowd responded like any crowd that had never seen pro ramp riding would respondloudly and vigorously. Just as Ron's music ended and they announced time's up, Ron began pedaling across the floor to hit the ramp one last time. At seven feet out he tried a nothing air Re-entering, he hung up his front wheel and went over the bars, hitting the ground hard. Instant silence in the arena.
Having to sit there and watch Ron lay unconscious while paramedics loaded him onto a stretcher and off to the hospital was lame. Real lame. To say it put a damper on the contest would be an understatement. As for the rest of the pros, psych went down the drain and each rider had his own bout of sketchiness. Dennis McCoy and Rick Moliterno seemed to be the least freaked out by Ron's crash, and they placed the highest. Todd Anderson was riding perfect -perhaps bio enough for another win- when he landed hard and snapped his frame and bashed his lip on his crossbar 30 seconds into his routine. He got a chance to re-run, but it wasn't the same.
There was much milling about after the contest as final scores were tabulated and winners for the day were announced. A visit to the hospital revealed Ron in pretty bad shape, requiring that he stay in Wichita for two weeks. Mr. Hoffman went above and beyond the call of duty when he hired a paramedic and converted his plane into an air ambulance on Thanksgiving day, flying Ron back home to San Diego. That was really cool of you, Mr. Hoffman. As of now, Ron is back home and doing fine ... in fact, he just called yesterday and said he's been riding his ramp. But nobody tell Stacey that or Ron could be in trouble.

Nothing hang up to face put Ron Wilkerson in a week long coma in Wichita, Kansas.
Ron Wilkerson: It was the last contest of the year and I was all stoked. I was leading the points for the ramps and everything. So there I was, ripping through my run, and for my last trick I did a nothing. Something went wrong and I hung up, flew to the bottom of the ramp and slammed my face on the ground. I didn't even get my hands out in front of me. For two weeks after that, I was in the hospital. I had blood clots on my brain that for some reason didn't require surgery. I totally lucked out. I couldn't stop riding. As soon as I was better I just jumped on my bike again. The weird thing was that I had to relearn every single trick I knew before the crash. I tell everyone to wear full-face helmets now.
Mat Hoffman, The Ride of my Life, 2002: Ron Wilkerson slammed on his trademark nothing air (no-hander no-footer) on an AFA quarterpipe and was laid up in a Wichita hospital with a bad head injury for two weeks. After Ron's condition stabilized my dad converted his plane into an air ambulance, hired a paramedic, and flew to get Ron and bring him home to San Diego. The whole time, plenty of people in the sport were holding their breath, hoping against hope that Ron would recover. He did. But it underlined the severe consequences of ramp riding, and most of the sport switched to full-face helmets just after that terrible crash.

Pro Ramp
1. Dennis McCoy
2. Rick Moliterno
3. Todd Anderson
4. Dennis Langlais
5. Josh White
6. Ron Wilkerson

19 & Over Ramp
1. Dave Voelker
2. Dino DeLuca
3. Rick Thorne
4. James Keating
5. Bill Jacobs

18 Ramp
1. Gary Pollak
2. Lee Reynolds
3. Steve Swope
4. Jay Miron
5. Chris Potts

17 Ramp
1. Jeremy Alder
2. Leo Chen
3. Thad Miller
4. Jerry Cleaton
5. Brad Tochida

16 Ramp
1. Matt Hoffman
2. Jamie Shelley
3. Brian Homer
4. Lee Rozelle

15 Ramp
1. Ryan Dunnman 
2. Beau Cobb
3. Mark Harvarove
4. (Tie) John Burkes
4. Chad Dearth

14 Ramp
1. Eben Krackau
2. Bill Gawrych

13 & Under Ramp
1. Eric Evans
2. Gregg Macomber
3. Trent Case
dave voelker
Dave Voelker.

Dennis McCoy

Lee Reynolds
Lee Reynolds

matt hoffman the zine 16
Matt Hoffman on the cover of The Zine 16.
Pro Overall: Dennis McCoy
19 & Over Overall: Dina DeLuca
18 Overall: Gary Pollak
17 Overall: Jeremy Alder
16 Overall: Jamie Shelley
15 Overall: Ryan Dunnman
14 Overall: Bill Gawrych
13 & Under Overall: Eric Evans
Todd Carter, august 2005: Myself, Frankie Arnwine, Frankie's parents, and Danny Meng all set out for the wheat fields of Kansas in a borrowed van.   We started off from Middletown, OH (Thursday night) and drove through the night to get there.  Because we had three bikes Frankie's parents borrowed a friends van, which we later discovered had a fuel leak.  But, nonetheless I was grateful for the ride!   I can remember laying on the floor of van which didn't have carpet, thinking to myself, man I am the luckiest 16 year old that I know.  How cool is it to be able to pursue my dreams!  I remember we got to Wichita Friday afternoon.  We quickly checked into our hotel and began riding in a nearby parking garage.  We met up with Perry Mervar, who had already been there for a few days.  We were all jealous of him because he was so dialed and rested.  Apparently he and his family were styling in a huge RV all the way from Indiana.   Nonetheless, we rode in the garage, and I remember a some rain setting in.  We went back to the hotel and actually rode a little bit inside... yes in the lobby.   I remember Bill Neuman and I think Ryuji Hora in their hotel room assembling their bikes with lightening speed and precision.  I remember Park Carter driving a rad Samurai Suzuki.   I also remember a horror story involving James McGraw.   He flew to a "nearby" airport only to miss his ride to Wichita.   He then had to take an all night bus ride to Wichita.    
Saturday morning brought with it "flatland day"  and a ton of talent. I can remember  going up against a HUGE class of riders.  This was the AFA finals for 1988 so it was a huge contest.  I was in the 16 expert flatland class.   By this time AFA Masters events had a qualifier round, and if you made the cut, you were called back at night for a second run.  By this time in 1988, I had been in dozens of competitions on a local and national level and I always struggled with getting nervous.  I was pretty nervous this day because there was so much talent in the class.  I think I had to ride right after Park Carter so that didn't help my stomach!   Honestly, the ironic thing is I can't really even remember my run.  Not even the music I rode too!  Crazy, huh?   But as I get older I realize that the important parts of that day are permanently a part of me, and who I have become. 
One of the most nerve-racking parts of the contest is waiting for the results from the "qualifying rounds."  I can remember seeing the results sheets posted and running up behind another group of riders.    I found my name and it was hi-lighted!  I checked it about 90 times!  I had qualified and i was stoked.  I think I qualified in 7th place, which was fine with me, I made it.    I remember then, thinking,  that this was going to be a day that I will remember for a very long time.    I went over my tricks a million times, in my mind, and in the jam circles.    The evening came, and competition was fierce.  Again, I can't remember my routine.  But I will never forget hearing what came next.  
No,  I didn't win.  I didn't even get in the top 3.  But I tied for 5th.    I placed!  WHEW!  I know that it's lame... but that meant and still means the world to me.  You know I have about bunch of freestyle trophy's from local competitions, but none compare to this.  It had finally happened.  
Our group left Wichita Sunday morning, deciding not to stay for the ramps day.  I left Wichita with a 5th place ribbon,  my yellow plastic vision wrist band, and a deep sense of accomplishment.  And though I only "tied for 5th,"  I know flatland freestyle had given to me that weekend, something much deeper.  A moment in life, that I will never forget.

Krt Schmidt, krtschmidt.com, november 2007: Probably the best contest I ever attended was the 1988 AFA Finals in Wichita.

Cary Conover, august 2009: I can't believe this is online, thanks for posting. I was born and raised in Wichita and this was my first AFA Masters event. Throughout a bit of 1987 and all of 1988 I had competed in some local and regional contests in Kansas and Oklahoma that took place at National Guard armories or shopping mall parking lots. Needless to say, none of them compared to this AFA Masters event. This event took place at the Century II Convention Center, which is a giant dome-shaped building in the heart of downtown Wichita. All throughout the weekend of this contest I remember some "jam circles" taking place outside Century II and elsewhere in downtown. This all recalls the small but dedicated Wichita freestyle scene that we ourselves were just discovering. There were of course the twin brothers Terry and Jerry Cleaton, who I am pretty sure built and maintained that light blue quarterpipe that's over on the audience's left side of the routine floor, closer to where all these videos were filmed (thanks Krt Schmidt!). That ramp might have even been the one on which Wilkerson hung up. There was Chris Mitchell as well, and a few other locals whose names escape me. At the time I was a on a team sponsored by an East Wichita bike shop, Grove's Schwinn, along with Ryan Strassburg and Kail Katzenmeier. We didn't really have an official name, but I do remember another team in Wichita (with the Cleaton twins on it) that went by the name "High Voltage." Our Grove's Schwinn team pretty much dominated the far east side of Wichita, and we would regularly perform shows at town festivals, parades, grade schools, etc. But this AFA contest in Wichita was something we looked forward to for months. In terms of adolescence, social life and coming-of-age issues, this weekend was fucking HUGE because my girlfriend Pauline, whose immigrant parents were extremely strict and had no idea were were even together, was allowed to come watch me compete. I remember the good luck kiss she gave me underneath the bleachers before my routine in the finals. I ended up coming in third place in 14 Flatland and received the biggest trophy I'll ever get in my life. Admittedly by late 1988 I had begun to lose some of my passion for freestyling. I was not even three months into my freshman year of high school and had an insanely demanding part time job that cut into my riding time. But it was a photography class that was truly overtaking my curiosities back then, and I always tell people that it's through riding that I discovered photography. My freestyle buddy Ryan Strassburg encouraged me to enroll in the class so we could take pictures of ourselves riding (no doubt he's got video of this event as well). At this particular AFA event I distinctly remember seeing Spike Jonze fidgeting with one of his cameras, ripping unspooled film out all over the place. To this day, I still have this issue of Freestylin' with me, in New York City where I've lived since 2000.