SMITHVILLE, Mo. — The Park Hill South High School B.A.S.S. Nation club generated interest in high school fishing around the Kansas City area by hosting an open tournament.
Thirteen teams from eight high schools competed in the first Panther Classic Bass Tournament April 27 at Smithville Lake. The team tournament was open to all high school students as well as next year’s incoming high school students (eighth-graders).
In addition to Park Hill South High, schools sending two-man teams (paired with adult boat captains) to the Panther Classic were Liberty North, Kearney, Lawson, School of the Osage, Lebanon and Hillsboro.
“I was pleased and disappointed both with the turnout,” said Gary Soske one of the Park Hill South Elite Anglers high school club advisers. “I would have liked to have had more. I was pleased from the standpoint that we picked up three other schools from the northland area of Kansas City.”
The Kearney High team of Jonathan Gonzales and Lane Setser won the inaugural event with two fish weighing 8.6 pounds. Lebanon’s Jonathan Slavens and Michael Wilson took second place with two bass weighing 7.23, while Joe Grafeman and Nathan Wheelock of School of the Osage finished third with one fish weighing 6.57 pounds, which was also the big bass of the tournament.
The Park Hill South Elite Anglers club was the first in the nation to join the B.A.S.S. Nation High school program. The club plans to host the Panther Classic again next year.
“We are going to have it again at about the same time,” Soske said.