Andrew Upshaw and Ryan Watkins are still the best of friends, even after what they went through last weekend.
On July 9, Upshaw and Watkins teamed up to capture the 2011 Mercury College B.A.S.S. National Championship trophy for their Texas school, Stephen F. Austin University. The next step of the competition was for the teammates to split up and go head-to-head for one berth in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.
Upshaw won, Watkins lost.
“He and I are still best friends, and I don’t think that’s going to change,” said Upshaw on Monday afternoon. “We both knew one of us had to win. He’s very upset, and I’m very upset that he didn’t make the Bassmaster Classic because I think he deserved it just as much as I did.”
Upshaw read aloud the text he sent to Watkins while they drove home Sunday: “I just wanted to tell you thanks, and thank you for everything and your support. You’ll get yours, don’t worry.”
Watkins’ reply: “Don’t sweat it. Remember I’m right there with you at the Classic.”
Watkins, as it happens, may literally be with Upshaw at the February 2012 Classic if Watkins accepts a lure maker’s offer of a paid trip to the site, Shreveport-Bossier City, La., to support his friend.