San Antonio, TX (October 23, 2020) – New for the 2020-2021 season on the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, competitors have the opportunity to automatically qualify for the year-end Championship at two Association of Collegiate Anglers major events. The Top 5 finishing teams at both the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open & Pickwick Slam will earn a spot in the 2021 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops on Lake Murray in South Carolina. At Lake Dardanelle just a few weeks ago, the first tickets were punched to the 2021 Championship.
Top 5 finishing teams at the AFTCO Open:
1) Cole Breeden & Cameron Smith – Drury University
2) Matt Baker & Kory England – Arkansas Tech University
3) Sloan Pennington & Jacob Denton
4) Harbor Lovin & Zach Martin – Murray State University
5) Beau Browning & Brock Bila – Drury University
Each of these Top 5 finishers qualifies as the exact two angler pairing that competed at the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open. These qualifications will be in addition to the number of boats a given school qualifies throughout the season. The Top 25 ranked teams in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia entering the 2021 Championship will qualify four boats. For teams ranked outside of the Top 25, schools will earn a qualification for each ACA ran event that a representative from their school competed in, for a maximum of three qualification spots. For instance, if Drury is ranked in the Top 25 entering the Championship, they will have a total of six boats qualified to compete that week. The next opportunity for teams to earn automatic qualification will be at the Pickwick Slam on Pickwick Lake during April of 2021.
By finishing in first place at the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open, Cole Breeden & Cameron Smith from Drury University claim one of the five automatic qualifying spots up for grabs at Lake Dardanelle. The 2021 Championship will be the fourth appearance at this event for Smith, and the third for Breeden. Breeden & Smith have fished the Championship as a duo each of the last two seasons. They finished 59th in 2019, and 27th in 2020.
Matt Baker & Kory England from Arkansas Tech University secured their spot in the 2021 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops with a second place finish at their home lake, Lake Dardanelle. This marks the first time that each of these anglers from Russellville, AR will be competing in the final event of the season.
Claiming third place at the AFTCO Open, and punching their ticket to the 2021 Championship, are Sloan Pennington & Jacob Denton. Pennington is no stranger to the big stage of the year-end Championship. Along with fellow teammate Hunter McCarty, Pennington won the 2017 Championship and finished in the Top 10 both in 2018 & 2019. 2021 will mark the fifth and final qualification for Pennington in this particular event. Denton will be making his first appearance in the Championship at Lake Murray in 2021.
Harbor Lovin & Zach Martin from Murray State University will also be competing in the 2021 Championship thanks to a fourth place finish at the AFTCO Open. Lovin & Martin competed in the 2019 Championship as a two angler team and finished 49th out of 200 teams. The 2021 Championship will mark the third time that each of these two anglers have competed in the prestigious tournament.
Rounding out the Top 5 at the AFTCO Open, and earning a spot in the 2021 Championship, are Beau Browning & Brock Bila from Drury University. The 2021 Championship will be the first time that either of these two anglers have qualified to compete for the ACA National Title. Drury University secured the most qualification spots from the AFTCO Open with two teams finishing in the Top 5.