SAN ANTONIO, TX (June 19, 2023) – The Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia is college fishing’s only all-encompassing National Rankings system. Over the course of a 12 month stretch, hundreds of college fishing teams from all across the country compete in national, regional, and local tournaments earning valuable points along the way. Each point is instrumental in helping these schools to achieve their season goals, whether that be to win the title, finish in the Top 10, or even just to be recognized amongst the Top 25 best teams in the nation. With the 2022-23 season now completed, the Association of Collegiate Anglers is reviewing the seasons that were for each of the Top 25 teams. Today’s feature article will highlight teams ranked 6-10:
- University of North Alabama (Florence, AL)
Total points: 38,475
The 2022-23 season of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia will go down in the history books as the year in which the University of Montevallo achieved collegiate bass fishing history by finishing the season ranked number one for three straight seasons. In doing so, Montevallo became the first team ever to claim three School of the Year titles.
However, the University of North Alabama has a special place in the record books as well. UNA was the first team ever in collegiate bass fishing history to win the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia twice. They stood as the lone school to have achieved this benchmark until McKendree University joined them by winning the title in back-to-back seasons (2019, 2020).
For the 2022-23 campaign, the team from Florence, AL finished the season ranked 6th. UNA earned a total of 38, 475 points. Earning points across a total of 21 different events, UNA has now finished inside of the Top 20 for the final rankings every year since 2012.
“For a team with the history and young talent like ours, we make it our goal to finish near the top of the ranks year-in and year-out. Finishing in the Top 10 in the SOY race is a great indicator that with hard work and perseverance, a School of the Year title can be achieved,” said Nathan Reynolds, UNA angler.
Like so many of the top teams in the country, UNA competed in all four ACA major events during the 2022-23 season. Across those four events, UNA earned 14,885 points. The school’s highest finish at an ACA event came on their home waters of Pickwick and Wilson Lakes for the Pickwick Slam presented by Evolution Fishing. Lane Lassiter & Tyler Finley weighed in a two-day total of 37.94 pounds to finish in second. At the year-end BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops, UNA placed three teams inside of the Top 25 to make the most of this triple points event (8th, 11th, 24th).
“The UNA Bass Team prides itself on a constant, ever-learning group of anglers. Winning the School of the Year title is a goal of each angler on our team, but fundamentally we are excited to see ourselves grow and rank higher and higher than in previous years,” noted Reynolds. “During the 2023-24 season, we would like to keep improving, moving higher up the leaderboard.”
- Campbellsville University (Campbellsville, KY)
Total points: 37,005
“We are super excited about finishing the season ranked 7th in SOY! It’s the first time Campbellsville has finished a season ranked in the Top 10,” said Tony Miracle, Head Bass Fishing Coach at Campbellsville University. “It is special for us to be able to represent not only our program and university, but our sponsors as well.”
Finishing with its highest-ever end of season ranking in school history is Campbellsville University. The team from Campbellsville, KY ends the year with 37,005 points and a 7th place finish. Campbellsville University has finished the year ranked inside of the Top 25 for five straight seasons.
“Our team has worked so hard this season to truly put CU ‘on the map’ and push for that SOY title. Our team, from seniors to freshmen, kept their eye on moving up the rankings all season,” added Miracle. “We have an incredible dynamic building within our team where team is becoming more important than individuals. I give all the credit to each angler that worked so hard this year. I’m so proud of each and every one of them.”
Campbellsville University competed in a total of 17 points earning events during the 2022-23 season for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Across the 16 major national events competed in, Campbellsville averaged 2,313 points at each event. This means that the team was averaging two Top 50 finishes, at a minimum, in almost every tournament they competed at. This includes in ACA major events, where Campbellsville earned over 2,000 points at each.
Looking ahead to the 2023-24 season, Campbellsville is aiming to claim its first-ever title in program history. “Our long goal, obviously, is to win SOY! We’re ready for the challenge of that pursuit but we also know how tough the competition is. We’re going to focus on finishing in the Top 5 with our eyes looking at Top 3. We’re ready to compete and I have all the confidence in Campbellsville Bass Fishing for 2023-24,” concluded Miracle.
- Emmanuel College (Franklin Springs, GA)
Total points: 35,700
Checking in at 8th is another school that achieved its highest-ever end of season ranking for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia this season, Emmanuel College. Prior to this season, Emmanuel’s best finish was 19th place. With a season total of 35,700 points, Emmanuel College cemented its place amongst the Top 10 best teams in the nation this year.
“Finishing in the Top 10 is quite an honor and accomplishment. Emmanuel is only in its 4th year as a program and our guys really work hard and are dedicated and passionate about the sport,” said Pam Wells, Head Coach at Emmanuel College. “Also, to be among the Top 10 among such an elite group of colleges and anglers is something to be proud of.”
As Pam noted, in only its 4th season competing on the college circuit, Emmanuel College has experienced a ton of growth the past several years. Here is a look at their progression up the National Rankings each of the last four seasons.
2019-20: 98th place
2020-21: 22nd place
2021-22: 19th place
2022-23: 8th place
“I am blessed with such a great group of young anglers. They are dedicated, their work ethic and passion for the sport is spot on,” added Wells.
Emmanuel College competed in all four ACA major events throughout the 2022-23 season. The school’s best singular event came at the 2023 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops on Lake Hartwell in Anderson, SC. Emmanuel’s three best teams all finished in the Top 10:
3rd Place: Tyler Campbell & Parker Guy
5th Place: Brooks Anderson & Max Heaton
7th Place: Chase Carey & Dylan Akins
Those three Top 10 finishes netted Emmanuel College a total of 7,260 points at the final event of the season. That is the most points that any one school earned at the 2023 ACA National Championship.
Coach Wells is hoping to carry this momentum over to the new season and finish the year ranked number one. “Of course, it would be great to win SOY. Our goal is not only to win, but to display, respect, ethics, passion for the sport, and represent our college, in a good Christian way, giving thanks to God for the opportunities and abilities to participate. That’s how we came up with the slogan #BeyondtheBoat by taking our faith beyond the boat,” concluded Wells.
- Blue Mountain Christian University (Blue Mountain, MS)
Total points: 34,585
“This makes for the 5th consecutive year that we’ve been nationally ranked within the Top 10,” noted Shane Cox, Fishing Coach at Blue Mountain Christian University. “As a team, it gives great pride that we can continually represent our school as one of the top programs in the country. Our administration has put a lot of faith in our vision and it’s important that we continue to perform at the best of our ability.”
BMC performed at the best of their ability this season to the tune of 34,585 points and a 9th place finish in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Like coach noted, this is the 5th consecutive season in which the team from Blue Mountain, MS has finished ranked inside of the Top 10. This season, BMC was not only fishing to represent their school, program, and sponsors, but also for one of their fellow anglers.
“At the beginning of the spring season, we were met with adversity in learning that teammate Camden Lewis had been diagnosed with cancer. Our team immediately pulled together in support of Camden and in doing so, made a pact that they would be ‘Casting for Camden’ throughout the year,” added Cox. “I personally believe this past season’s success can be attributed to a special bond created between all our anglers and a strong faith in our Lord to prevail in any circumstance laid before them.”
Blue Mountain Christian University started the spring swing of this past season with a bang as they were ‘Casting for Camden.’ Blake Bullock and John Mark Berry won the Bassmaster College Series event on the Harris Chain, earning 1,250 points for the 1st place finish. Camden’s main fishing partner throughout the season was TJ Edwards. Fishing by himself at Cherokee Lake, Edwards was BMC’s highest placing boat in 13th.
Camden then competed with TJ at the ACA’s Pickwick Slam presented by Evolution Fishing. The duo notched a Top 25 finish at the final ACA major, double points tournament of the year. BMC had a phenomenal event at Pickwick Lake. Four teams placed inside of the Top 25, with the team’s two best finishes being 8th and 11th.
Coach Shane Cox would like to see more consistent finishes like the team had at Pickwick Lake to occur all season long as BMC shoots to move up even higher throughout 2023-34. “Our goal in 2023-24 is to become more consistent on all bodies of water which should in return assure us of a Top 5 finish in SOY. There is nothing that we would like more,” noted Cox.
- Murray State University (Murray, KY)
Total points: 34,025
Rounding out the Top 10, and the final team to be featured in this particular article, is Murray State University. Murray State earned a total of 34,025 points to finish the year in 10th.
“We are all very excited to be able to have another successful year here at Murray State. Staying within that Top 10 is the goal every year and we hope to see ourselves push forward back into the Top 5 by the end of the 2023-24 school year.”
Murray State’s highest-ever finish in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia is 3rd. They are one of college fishing’s most storied programs to have never won the prestigious School of the Year title. Murray has finished in the Top 10 of the final rankings numerous times, as well as won the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops, college fishing’s longest running National Championship event. As a school-ran team, Murray State consistently brings in great anglers that help to keep them at the top of the rankings year-in and year-out.
“Our team is full of people who live to fish. Without everyone contributing, we would not have such a successful team. At Murray State we pay out to travel no matter what year in college you are in. With that, everyone gets to go fish their strengths and practice their weaknesses whenever they need. This has been a huge key to our success.”
Throughout the years, Murray State has been a proven model for success. This season was no different. Competing in 25 points eligible events, Murray State secured a number of top finishes. Several of those came at each of the four ACA major, no-entry-fee events. Here is how Murray State fared on the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series last season:
Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley: 3,210 points
AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open: 2,220 points
Pickwick Slam presented by Evolution Fishing: 2,700 points
BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops: 5,050 points
With the 2023-24 season schedule set to visit familiar fisheries for Murray State, look for them to get off to an early start in pursuit of the first School of the Year title in their program’s history. “For the 2023-24 school year, Murray State would love to see itself climb to the Top 5 again…with winning SOY, of course, as the end goal.”