SAN ANTONIO, TX (5/22/2020) – “Since Coach Rinderer started our team at McKendree, we have been ranked in the Top 25 every year. This is an accomplishment that should not be taken lightly,” said Trevor McKinney, a senior at McKendree University. “The Bass Pro Shops School of the Year race is one of the most coveted titles in collegiate bass fishing. To say that our team has been in the Top 25 out of hundreds of colleges across the country is outstanding.”
Since the start of the McKendree University fishing team back in 2014, the team has never finished outside of the Top 20 in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Even more notable is the fact that in the last five seasons, excluding that inaugural year in 2014, McKendree has not finished worse than 8th.
“Being ranked in the Top 25 is always a team goal, and it is definitely a great accomplishment that develops a tremendous amount of team pride. This ranking indicates that the anglers on our team are able to fish consistently day in and day out against the best teams in the country,” said Head Coach Jon Rinderer.
McKendree University finds itself in an all too familiar position, the team is in 1st place entering the final event of the season. Back in 2019, the Bearcats entered the 2019 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops in 1st place for the School of the Year race. The team carried a great deal of pressure on their shoulders as they looked to earn the school its first School of the Year title.
Team members rose to the challenge and got the job done to the tune of 1,720 points to edge out the 2018 defending School of the Year winners, Bethel University. This season, McKendree University is knocking on the doorstep of winning back-to-back titles. “Winning the SOY title last year was a great accomplishment for our group of guys. However, we are all extremely competitive and are far from satisfied with just one title,” said team member Bailey Bleser. “To have the opportunity to earn back-to-back SOY titles is unbelievable. With that being said, the other schools are going to do everything in their power to ensure that it does not happen.”
Only once in the history of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia has a school won back-to-back titles. The University of North Alabama did so in 2014 & 2015. McKendree University knows that they have their work cut out for them if they want to etch their name in the history books for the 2020 season. “It’s a huge opportunity for us to have the opportunity to repeat! It is no easy task,” added McKendree angler, Tyler Christy.
As we’ve been mentioning throughout this whole series, the last chance to earn valuable points will come at the 2020 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops on Pickwick Lake in Florence, AL on June 10th-11th. 1,500 points will be awarded to the winning team, and schools will earn points for their highest two finishing teams inside of the Top 125. To repeat as School of the Year winners again in 2020, in a worst-case scenario, McKendree University will have to earn approximately 2,000 points at the Championship. With that number in mind, the team is anticipating the opportunity to make another run at the title. “I’m most definitely looking forward to the opportunity of holding the School of the Year trophy again. It’s what we worked for all year long, and the thought of repeating only makes us want it more,” Christy added.
But at the end of the day, McKendree University is also highly anticipating the opportunity to just get out and compete. “It has been almost four months since we last competed in a college event, so I simply cannot wait to just be able to compete again,” noted Bleser. Tournament cancellations and delays related to the Coronavirus have caused this current season to screech to a halt. The upcoming Championship provides a light at the end of the tunnel for these anglers to fish once again and see old friends. “Personally, I am really looking forward to seeing all of my teammates and fellow fishermen again. The group of collegiate anglers across the country is like a big family,” explained McKinney. “We meet and associate with new anglers at every tournament. This aspect of tournament bass fishing is almost just as enjoyable as the fishing itself. It will be great to get back out there with my teammates and other anglers in a couple of weeks.”
A winner in the School of the Year race will be crowned in less than three weeks at the Championship in Florence, AL. ACA staff members will be following the Top 5 teams very closely throughout the tournament. It has been a great season thus far, and we are looking forward to crowning a winner in the 2020 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia!