Three Sand Springs High School fishing teams traveled to Kentucky Lake this past weekend for the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship in Paris, Tennessee. Rough weather, rain delays, and mechanical failures prevented the Sandites from making a run at the title, but the experience will undoubtedly prove valuable in future seasons.
231 teams turned out, representing 34 states and one Canadian providence. The tournament was initially planned with two days of fishing for the full field, with the top twelve advancing to a final round on Saturday. Heavy rains moved in Friday, however, and the day’s events were postponed with the final-twelve round canceled.
Noah Daczewitz and Hunter Hilger placed in the top 90 boaters on day one, finishing with five fish totaling 13 pounds and 6 ounces. Their single-day catch ended up being greater than the two-day totals for more than 80 teams.
Tragedy struck the Sandites on Saturday as the Daczewitz-Hilger team lost their lower unit and had to toss back their catch two hours before weigh-in. Even without getting to weigh in their day-two catch, they still finished 162nd overall thanks to a successful first day.
Scott-Kearns caught a 4-3 bass on day two to finish 196th, while Miller-Pennington came up empty and finished 224th.
Oklahoma sent eight teams to the National Tournament. Cascia Hall’s Scott Torkleson and Daniel Anthamatten placed twelfth with ten fish weighing 36-5. Clayton High’s Zachary Bray and Jake Stamps finished 66th with ten fish weighing 27-5. Kiowa High’s Noah Belt and Lane Couch finished 158th with five fish weighing 14-1. Dale Sherrick and Will Manning, of Washington High School, finished 197th with four fish weighing 9-1. Mannford High’s Garrett McCrackin and Jackson Lawless finished 199th with four fish weighing 8-11.
129 teams caught the five fish limit on Thursday, 103 caught the limit on Saturday, and only 79 teams caught the limit on both days. The lowest-weighing full-limit catch was 19-15.
South Florence High’s Tommy Floyd Jr. and James Gibbons, of South Carolina, won the tournament thanks to a 23-2 catch on day two. Gibbons spent the first day alone on the water as Floyd spent his day in the emergency room with a gastrointestinal infection. Even flying solo, Gibbons was able to haul in an impressive 20-1 catch for thirteenth place on day one. Their victory earned them $5,250 in scholarship money from DICK’S Sporting Goods. They also have $48,000 available from Bethel University should they decide to attend the McKenzie, Tennessee college.
Springville’s Logan Henderson and Steven Swann led the pack on day one with a 23-12 catch, but were unable to replicate their success on Saturday when they caught only a pair of fish.
Henry County High School’s Shawn Burkhart and Gavin Gordon caught 22-11 for second place on day one, then caught 20-4 for eighth place on day two and an overall Runner-Up finish.
More than $22,750 of scholarship money was distributed down through the top-placing teams. $500 went to Stephen Cross Mathis of Broome High for his 9-pound largemouth Big-Bass.