Fishing team duo headed to Nationals

Staff Written Sports

Morgan County’s inaugural fishing team is overachieving in their first year as a team.  Not only did the number one group of Cole Holloway and Zach Smith qualify for the BassMaster B.A.S.S. National High School Tournament, but two other teams have qualified for the State Tournament where they too could qualify for the Nationals should they finish high enough.  Those two teams are made up of Landon Huff and Will Thomas as well as Ryan Thomas and Cole Freeman.  Coach Gregg Thomas talked about the season and how well the team has done in its first year, “This is big news.  I’m proud of what our team has done in its first year of competition.”

In their latest tournament at Lake Hartwell, Holloway and Smith qualified for the Nationals by finishing in the top five with a scale weight of 12.7 lbs.  Currently this team is a top four team in the state and Holloway was 12th at the latest tournament.  Huff and Thomas came in 39th with 9.13 lbs.

According to the official B.A.S.S BassMaster website at  https://www.bassmaster.com/news/bass-announces-college-high-school-national-championship-locations, there are four regional High School Opens.  Morgan County competes in the South Regionals.  Top competitors from state high school championships and from sanctioned team trails also earn invitations to compete in the high school championship.  The high school championship’s full field will compete on the first two days, after which the field will be cut to the Top 10 on the final day. “Henry County is excited to once again host the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series National Championship presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods out of Paris Landing on beautiful Kentucky Lake, ” said Henry County (Kentucky) Tourism Authority CEO David Hamilton. For more information on the national championship events, visit Bassmaster.com.

Thomas added, “With two boys on the team and having a chance to compete there and actually guide for one of them, it’s been some great Daddy time with both of them. We won’t know until after the State Tournament at Eastpoint on May 5 whether they have qualified for the Nationals or not.  Bassmaster determines how many teams will from move on from the state and fish at the Nationals.”

The coach also pointed out that Holloway and Smith are still in the running for Angler-of-the-year.  He wasn’t sure, but thought they were at least in the top four teams in the state.  He also wanted make sure that interested student-anglers and parents were aware of some ways to get involved.  “We’re looking to grow this team next year by getting some new kids, teams, guides, and parents to join our team.  We are having an informational meeting on May 1 at the high school with Athletic Director Doug Connelly to invite potential anglers to attend an informational meeting along with their parents.  We’re not sure of the time yet, but it will be announced at the middle and high school as that time nears.  We also have social media sites on Facebook and Instagram.  You can find them both by searching for MOCO Bass Fishing Team.  We will be posting updates on meetings and tournaments coming up this summer for all interested families.”

According to Thomas, the goal for many of these kids is to figure out how to fish at the collegiate level.  If they aren’t planning on attending college, there are other avenues they can pursue.  One local professional angler, John Duvall, is an example.  There are many others.  He also mentioned that there are clinics at many of the tournaments where well-known pros share their knowledge about the subject of moving on to the next level.  He said, “They are always there sharing knowledge with the kids and the crowd.  They may not be fishing, but they are always open to giving these young anglers advice on how to succeed and how they got to where they are today.  They’re like every other normal Dad and very hands-on,” he said.

It’s always exciting to watch new sports evolve at the high school level.  Much like our first team in many years to play girls’ softball, the Morgan County Fishing Team is excelling in their first year.  We look forward to hearing how the boys do in the next few events as they continue to strive to make Morgan County proud.  Good luck.

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