ACA staff reveals the current Top 5 teams in the nation at the halfway mark of the season
SAN ANTONIO, TX (January 7, 2022) – In today’s feature, we will be highlighting teams ranked 1st – 5th in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia.
- Auburn University
Total Points: 7,430
Pre-Season Ranking: 5th
For the first time this season, a school other than Adrian College is at the top of the rankings in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Auburn University opens the second half of the 2021-22 season ranked number one in the nation. After earning a pre-season ranking of 5th, Auburn has accumulated a season total of 7,430 points and leads second ranked Montevallo by just five points.
Auburn is currently on pace to put together one of the best seasons in school history. To this point, Auburn has achieved 14 Top 10 finishes at major national level events, as well as regional tournaments throughout the fall. Here is a look at several of Auburn’s top finishes this season:
–Bassmaster College Series Championship – St. Lawrence River
3rd Place, 1,460 points: Conner Crosby & James Cobbs
-Bassmaster College Series – Saginaw Bay
1st Place, 1,000 points: Logan Parks & Tucker Smith
-MLF Northern Regional – Potomac River
7th, 940 points: Robert Cruvellier & Sam Harvey
The Auburn University Bass Fishing Team also secured two Top 30 finishes at the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open for a total of 2,010 points.
Auburn is one of three teams ranked in the Top 5 that has never won the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Going into the spring swing, the team is looking forward to the schedule ahead, and the opportunity to sustain the number one ranking through season’s end.
“I’m really looking forward to the spring. I think we’ve got probably the best team we’ve ever had,” explained Robert Cruvellier, Auburn University Bass Fishing Team member. “I really like the schedule overall too. I’m just looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a tight one.”
With three ACA double points events still on the calendar, along with multiple MLF and Bassmaster College Series events, there are a lot of points on the line over the next five months. Starting with the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley at Kentucky Lake in March, then the Barnett Reservoir Rumble during the month of April in Ridgeland, MS…Auburn has its sights set on finishing the year ranked number one at the conclusion of the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops at Pickwick Lake in late May.
“These ACA double points events, we’re going to throw everything at them. We’re going to come 20 boats deep if we need to. That’s something we’ve prepared for all fall long, and that’s something that we’re going to do coming into the spring,” said Carson Maddux, Auburn University Bass Fishing Team Member. “Kentucky Lake…the Big Bass Bash, Barnett Reservoir, we’ll be deep at those. We’re going to bring as many boats as possible. Every pocket you pull into, we want there to be an Auburn boat. Hopefully it’s successful for us.”
- University of Montevallo
Total Points: 7,425
Pre-Season Ranking: 1st
Checking in at 2nd overall in this rankings update is the University of Montevallo. Moving up one spot since the previous standings, the 2021 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia is looking to claim back-to-back titles this season. Accumulating a total of 7,425 points this season, Montevallo is just five points behind top-ranked Auburn University.
Montevallo, who entered the year with a pre-season ranking of 1st, is putting together another historic season as we move into the beginning of 2022. Montevallo’s average finish at events this season is 6th. On only four occasions has the defending School of the Year winner finished outside of the Top 10 at an event. And in those particular events, the Montevallo teams still finished inside of the Top 20: 15th, 12th, 16th, and 20th.
The University of Montevallo’s season points total is bolstered by a strong showing at the 2021 AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, AR. Of the 14 boats that Montevallo sent to the AFTCO Open, the school’s two best finishes were 6th and 8th overall. Cole Dodson & Tyler Cain (6th) and Hunter Odom & Brenton Godwin (8th) combined for a total of 2,380 points at the first ACA double points event of the year. The most points of any team competing in the tournament.
Coming off of the 2020-21 season where it claimed its first-ever Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia, the University of Montevallo is set up to make a run at the title again over the course of the next five months. The team returns a number of veteran anglers this season that now has experience and knowledge at a wide range of fisheries. Those upperclassmen, combined with the influx of younger anglers looking to be part of the growing Montevallo legacy, could be the catalyst that propels Montevallo into the history books. Only twice ever in the history of the ACA School of the Year race has a school won the prestigious title in back-to-back seasons. In just five short months, we’ll find out if Montevallo can finish the year ranked number one overall.
- Adrian College
Total Points: 7,340
Pre-Season Ranking: 2nd
Next up is another team looking to claim its first-ever Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia, Adrian College. Coming off a 3rd place finish in 2021 and earning a pre-season distinction of 2nd, the team from Adrian, MI is in 3rd place with 7,340 points.
This marks the first rankings reveal of the year in which Adrian College is not in the top spot. A strong fall season placed Adrian at number one for roughly five months. Now they are just a mere 90 points behind top-ranked Auburn University.
Here is a look at several of Adrian’s best finishes on the season:
-MLF Northern Regional – Potomac River
3rd Place, 980 points: Caleb Dachenhaus & Elliot Wielgopolski
-Bassmaster College Series – Saginaw Bay
2nd Place, 990 points: Zach Salters & Jenson Kay
-Bassmaster College Series Championship – St. Lawrence River
1st Place, 1,500 points: Hayden Scott & Griffin Fernandes
In the pre-season rankings reveal, we emphasized the importance for Adrian College to show well at ACA double points events. In seasons past, that has been what’s left Adrian College behind the top two to three teams come season’s end. At the moment, the trend appears to be continuing during the 2021-22 season. At the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open, Adrian College’s best two teams finished 3rd and 98th overall. Those two finishes earned the team a total of 1,510 points. On average, that total is 500-800 points less than what the other four teams in the Top 5 earned at Lake Dardanelle.
Earlier this fall, Adrian College joined host Kyle Curry on the Rapala #WeAreCollegiateBass Podcast. During that interview, team member Matt Davis talked briefly about Adrian’s mid-season struggles the past few years.
“You’ve got to approach every tournament the same way. We all have a lot of experience up North, and that’s why we have a lot of success up here. And when we go down South, we’re a little bit more uncomfortable on those lakes. You have to approach it. You have to control everything you can control when you arrive at that lake. Do your research, just go out and fish hard and try your best to have a good event.”
It is important to note that Adrian College put together a charge at Lake Murray last May to climb up into the Top 3 to end the year. The team has the moxie and determination needed to compete at a high level all season long and finish well at the end of the year. This speaks to the program that coach Seth Borton has put together. And regarding this year’s team, they believe that they’ve got the special group needed to win the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia.
“Obviously, we’re all really excited. This is a great start. We’re pretty pumped to try to make a run at it for sure,” said Shane Nelson, Adrian College team member. “This year just kind of feels special. Everybody’s really tight. I think if we’re going to make a run at it, that’s our advantage…that we’re a much tighter team than everyone out there.”
- McKendree University
Total Points: 7,290
Pre-Season Ranking: 4th
Sitting at 4th place in the rankings is the only two-time winner of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia in the Top 5 overall, McKendree University. Coming off of a 1st place title in 2019 and 2020, McKendree ended the 2021 season ranked 2nd overall. At the moment, the pre-season ranked 4th place team is 140 points behind 1st place with a season total of 7,290 points.
McKendree University knows what it takes to compete at the highest level in the sport, and they are hoping to lean on that experience this season to become the first school ever to win three School of the Year titles. “It would be absolutely huge. I think it was something that we were shooting for last year too, was the three-peat…back to back to back,” said Tyler Christy, McKendree University team member. “This year, I think it only lit the fire under us up a little bit more. We’re real excited to get out there this year and try to make our way to the top.”
Listen to the full episode of the Rapala #WeAreCollegiateBass Podcast featuring Trey Schroeder and Tyler Christy as they talked about McKendree University’s goal of winning the 2021-22 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia, click here.
At each step along the way this season, McKendree University is putting together quality finishes to add to the team’s season points total. McKendree notched a Top 10 finish at the Bassmaster College Series event on Saginaw Bay, claimed 2,350 points at the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open, and that next weekend won the MLF Central Regional at Lake of the Ozarks.
Another boost to McKendree’s point total has come from ACA sanctioned school-run events. For the past few years, McKendree University has hosted invitational tournaments in both the fall and spring semesters to provide teams with the opportunity to go fishing, compete, and gain valuable points towards the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. During the first weekend in October, McKendree hosted a school-run event on back to back days. Each event had roughly 30 boats representing between 13 and 15 different schools, which resulted in a total hosting bonus of 90 points. McKendree teams finished 1st and 3rd at those two events.
McKendree has put together a total of four 1st place finishes at events this season, along with a total of 11 Top 10’s. This great run to start the 2021-22 season has McKendree within striking distance of top-ranked Auburn University as we begin the spring season this upcoming weekend with a MLF Southeastern Regional at the Harris Chain in Florida.
Coach Rinderer has built a college fishing powerhouse at McKendree University over the course of the past five to six years. McKendree has recruited at a high level to bring in numbers of great anglers to sustain the excellence that McKendree has displayed. That talent combined with a proven formula for competing well in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia has McKendree University in a place to create college bass fishing history at season’s end if the chips fall in the team’s favor.
- Drury University
Total Points: 6,915
Pre-Season Ranking: 8th
Rounding out the Top 5 in the current rankings for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia is Drury University. Drury has tallied up a total of 6,915 points to be ranked 5th, three spots higher than the school’s ranking in the ACA pre-season poll.
Drury’s average finish at events this season is 21st overall. The team’s 2021-22 campaign is highlighted by a major victory and multiple Top 10 finishes at national level events:
-MLF Southern Regional – Lake Dardanelle
1st Place, 1,000 points: Hunter Baird & Beau Browning
-MLF Central Regional – Mississippi River
10th Place, 910 points: Cole Breeden & Cameron Smith
-MLF Central Regional – Lake Of The Ozarks
3rd Place, 980 points: Brock Bila & Dylan Chambers
Along with these Top 10 finishes, Drury earned a total of 2,070 points at the 2021 AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open on Lake Dardanelle. The contributors to this double points total were Beau Browning & Hunter Baird (20th) and Cole Breeden & Brant Rowland (25th).
Entering this season’s AFTCO Open, 2020 event winner Cole Breeden spoke about Drury’s chase to win the team’s first-ever Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. “This year, we’re really trying to do the best we can,” said Cole Breeden, Drury University team member. “We’ve never had more than about 12-13 guys on the team. We actually got nine new freshmen in this year, and that put our team at 17-18 guys. That really helps us in being able to take more boats to these big tournaments, but it also allows us to send more teams to a lot of these smaller events…that can end up adding up at the end of the season. We’re going to be able to put in a lot more work, go to a lot more tournaments. We’re really excited to see what can happen through this.”
Listen to the full interview in EP. 126 of the Rapala #WeAreCollegiateBass Podcast.
Drury University is stocked up on talent and ready to make a run at taking home the title of Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia this season. Coach Rick Emmitt has been working diligently to build up the Drury University program over the past several years. The influx of new talent, combined with the existing seasoned anglers on the roster and ability to send more anglers to a larger number of events, could be the perfect formula for Drury to break through and finish the year ranked number one.