STAFFORD, Va. — A Virginia team won its second consecutive youth invitational, July 15, on the Potomac River.
The Virginia squad amassed a total weight of 19.64 pounds to beat New Jersey (11.31) and Maryland (10.44) in the Mid-Atlantic Youth Tournament. Kyle Harrigan of New Jersey earned tournament champion honors with two fish weighing 5.44 pounds. The other top two individual finishers were Stephen Carr of Virginia with three fishing weighing 5.39 pounds and Cody Martin, three bass, 5.24.
The youth tournament was spearheaded last year by Randy Dotson, Maryland B.A.S.S. Federation Nation second vice president. "What we wanted to do was have a tournament in which kids on prospective state teams would be invited to come and fish," said Dotson.
When he became second vice president for Maryland a couple of years ago, Dotson met with youth directors in his state and found out that some members were interested in reviving the Bassmaster Junior Chapter Invitationals, which started in 1996 as a challenge between the Maryland and Ohio youth chapters. The invitationals were converted into divisional tournaments along the same structure as the adult Federation Nation program in 2004 and the youth chapters' national championship became the Bassmaster Junior World Championship. The divisionals were discontinued in 2005.
Dotson decided to re-create the youth tournament in 2006, and Maryland hosted the Potomac River Invitational, which drew state teams from Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., in addition to the host state.
"It was a tremendously successful tournament," said Dotson. This year, Virginia changed the event's name to the Mid-Atlantic Youth Tournament, which drew 16 competitors from three states. Scheduling conflicts prevented some states from attending this year's invitational.
"Virginia did a great job," praised Dotson. "All the kids got hats and shirts. We're not at the point where we are able to provide cash, but the kids and team that won did get plaques."
New Jersey has expressed interest in hosting the invitational next year. "We would like to see this event do exactly what it did before, which is start off small as an open invitational," said Dotson. "Basically any state team that wants to make the commitment to come is welcome. I don't see it as strictly being a Mid-Atlantic event. I would like to see it open to whatever state wants to participate."
The tournament has the same age divisions (11-14 and 15-18) as the Bassmaster Junior World Championship, but there are no restrictions on how a state assembles its state team.