CROPWELL, Ala. — Austin Brown and Bailey Dukes made B.A.S.S. history by becoming the first team ever to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic High School Exhibition.
The Plainview High School students earned a berth in the high school exhibition by winning the State Games Bass Fishing Tournament of the Alabama Sports Festival held June 22 at Logan Martin Lake. The winners weighed in 14 pounds, 6 ounces of bass to finish ahead of Zane Loveday and Jordan Davis, who took second place, and Zeke Gossett and Hayden Bartee, the third-place finishers.
“The festival is an Olympic-style event that has 22 different sports over a three-day period, and a few years ago they brought bass fishing in as one of the sports,” said Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation senior manager. “Last year, B.A.S.S. partnered with the festival to administer the bass fishing event, and it has turned out to be a real neat deal.”
The tournament previously featured four categories with individual and team winners in two age brackets, but this year the format was changed to a high school team competition with the winning team qualifying for the B.A.S.S. High School Exhibition. Stewart said he believes the format change is the reason for a 71 percent increase in participation, rising from 21 boats last year to 36 boats this year.
Another team for the exhibition will come from the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation State High School Championship, Nov. 2, and the other eight will qualify through the first B.A.S.S. High School Invitational, July 20, on Wheeler Lake in Alabama.