FLORENCE, AL (6/9/2020) – Entering the final event of the season for the Association of Collegiate Anglers, the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops on Pickwick Lake, each team in the Top 5 for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia mathematically has a chance at being crowned college fishing’s best team. Only 1,925 points separate fifth place from first, and some of the most loaded programs in college fishing comprise that Top 5. The goal for each school will be to place their two best teams as high as possible in the standings to capitalize on the double points opportunity and etch their name in the history books as a School of the Year winner.
Sitting in first place entering the Championship is McKendree University. The Bearcats won this title in 2019, and they are looking to become just the second team ever to win School of the Year in back-to-back years. “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.”
McKendree has five total boats registered to compete in the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops. 1,500 total points will be awarded to the winner of the event, and the maximum number of points one individual school can earn are 2,980. This means that if McKendree can come away with a minimum of 1,960 points, they are guaranteed to be crowned the School of the Year again in 2020. “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,” added McKendree angler Tyler Christy.
Trailing close behind in second place is the University of Montevallo. The Alabama based school sits just 1,020 points out of the top spot. “To be in the position we are now, being second in SOY with the Championship coming up in June, is something that every fisherman on our team has had on their minds to achieve all year long,” said Montevallo angler Mason Waddell. “We are one good finish out of clinching the title, and this is something that would mean more than anything to our team.” Montevallo enters this event with a lot of momentum, and has an experienced group of anglers that are very knowledgeable of this fishery. Look for the Falcons to make a strong run for the School of the Year title this week.
There is a tight log jam among the remaining teams that comprise the Top 5. Third and fifth place are divided by a difference of only 145 points. Each team has a chance at jumping up to claim that top spot, and these three seasoned programs are no strangers to being ranked among the best teams in the country.
The long awaited restart of college fishing following a two month delay related to the COVID-19 virus has third ranked Adrian College eager to get back into the swing of things. “I can’t wait to get back in the tournament mode with my team and travel down to Pickwick to compete for the National Championship title, and trying to move further up the School of the Year race and hopefully even take home the title of School of the Year,” noted Adrian College angler Griffin Fernandes. Adrian College led throughout a large part of the 2019-2020 season and will be looking to earn their first School of the Year title in program history.
Fourth ranked Auburn University is also hoping to make program history this week. The team has never finished better than fourth place in the School of the Year standings. They sit in a prime position this week to move up, and are definitely capable of doing so on a great body of water in their home state. “I absolutely love this event, I look forward to it every season. One of my favorite things to do is catch them when they get offshore and that’s what it’ll be again this season,” explained Logan Parks from Auburn University.
And the final team in the Top 5 that will be scouring the ledges of Pickwick Lake in search of a School of the Year title is no stranger to the Tennessee River. Murray State University enters the week in fifth place, just 1,925 points out of first place. “We are very happy to be where we are, but like every other team out there, we will always strive to be in the number one spot,” said Jacob Autry, a member of the Murray State fishing team. “With the amount of talent that makes up college bass fishing today, we all feel very blessed and thankful to be ranked within the Top 5 in the nation!” In the last seven seasons, Murray has found themselves in the Top 5 to finish the season a total of six times. This go around, they will be looking to leave Pickwick Lake and Florence, AL ranked number one on Thursday evening.
Each team in the Top 5 has registered a total of five boats to compete in this week’s Championship event. Our crews will closely follow each team throughout the competition, with camera crews covering the Top 3 to start Day 1. Who will walk away with the title of ‘2020 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia’ when the scales officially close at the end of the event? We will find out in just a few short days.
Read about each individual team ranked in the Top 25 entering the Championship by following this link.