PARIS, Tenn.—With tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces, the Susquehanna Valley team of Garrett Enders and Nick Osman hoisted the championship trophy into the air.
The Pennsylvania anglers outlasted 59 of the best high school teams in the nation to take home the crown of inaugural High School Champions.
With a Day 3 weight of 7 pounds and 4 ounces they sat in second place and were in prime position to take over the lead on the final day of competition.
Using a weightless wacky-rigged Senko, Enders and Osman caught four more keepers Saturday. Their 4 pounds, 11 ounce bag was just enough to hold off the hard-charging anglers from Benton, Ill., who jumped six places to finish second.
“It’s amazing, I mean honestly I’m still speechless and it probably won’t sink in for a few weeks,” said Nick Osman. “We worked so hard to get here and it paid off. We are champions.”
Enders and Osman didn’t have an easy start to their final day, as they were in the penalty box from the get-go. A 30-minute penalty was accessed to the anglers after they failed to promptly take their mandatory halftime break at 9:30 on Day 3. Seven minutes later they realized what had happened and took the 15-minute halftime break.
After their 30-minute penalty was up, the Pennsylvania anglers launched and headed straight for the Carroll County Recreational Lake dam. Once they arrived at the dam they fished up and down the rocky banks with their weightless wacky-rigged Senko, which they threw on spinning tackle.
For their victory, Garrett Enders and Nick Osman received $4,000 -- $2,000 per angler -- in scholarship funds from B.A.S.S. They were also offered $20,000 in scholarships from Bethel University, should they choose to attend the university upon graduation.
The second place team of Dailus Richardson and Trevor McKinney were undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. The Illinois anglers were the Day 1 and 2 leaders at Kentucky Lake, before zeroing the weights and heading to Carroll County’s 1,000-acre recreational lake. Richardson and McKinney caught 37 pounds and one ounce on Kentucky Lake and had a sizeable lead before the weights were evened out.
After the cut to 30 teams on Day 3, McKinney and Richardson came back to the scales with just three fish for 5 pounds, 3 ounces, moving them into the final day in eighth place.
They struggled until late in the day because they got away from their strengths, Trevor McKinney admitted. “I’m a flipper and I really like to flip a lot.
"But we didn’t do that until 11 o’clock on Day 3 and that cost us.”
The Benton High School team flipped creature baits into flooded timber to catch their 6-pound 5-ounce limit on the final day. The duo received $2,000 -- $1,000 a piece -- in scholarships from B.A.S.S., as well as $1,000 from Triton. For their Day 1 efforts on Kentucky Lake, the anglers received $1,000 courtesy of Mud Hole for their heavyweight bag of 20 pounds, 14 ounces.
The third place team of Blake Albertson and Evan Wheeler received $1,500 -- $750 a piece -- from B.A.S.S. and $1,000 from Yamaha.
Zeke Gossett and Hayden Bartee climbed from 10th to fourth to take home $1,500 in scholarships from B.A.S.S.
The fifth through 10th place teams all received $1,000 -- $500 a piece -- in B.A.S.S. scholarships. Those teams were Tyler Dunn and Matthew Shrewsbury, Rashaad Goodson and Steven Younginer, Alex Torkleson and William Valdez, Dillon King and Kody Kelly, Adrian Stafford and Matt Miller. Rounding out the top 10 was Noah Pescitelli and Thomas Zaczek.
Jack Garner received the Carhartt Big Bass bonus for the week after he brought a 7-pound 4-ounce Kentucky Lake largemouth to the scales. The angler from the Douglass Indians fishing team received a $1,250 scholarship courtesy of Carhartt.