college

College: Drury grabs the Day 1 lead on Norfork

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. — Despite a slow start, Drury University’s Beau Browning and Jake Peck were able to capitalize on a later bite that jolted them to the top of the leaderboard on Day 1 of the Strike King Bassmaster College Series at Norfork Lake presented by Bass Pros Shops.

With their 19-pound, 1-ounce bag, the duo from Drury, which is located in Springfield, Mo., holds a 2-13 lead over the second-place team of Kopeland Rosser and Ryan Branch of the University of Montevallo (Ala.) heading into the second and final day of competition.

Finding a school of fish late in the day was the key to success for Browning and Peck.

“We started the morning in an area that we found during practice and it ended up being blown out,” said the Hot Springs, Ark., native Browning. “After we left that area, we ran down the lake and found a big school of fish and we leaned on them until we had to check back in.”

Considering Drury is just over two hours from Norfork Lake, Browning and Peck had this event circled on their calendars since the schedule was announced. After an up-and-down practice, they were uncertain how Day 1 would turn out.

“Practice wasn’t that great to be honest,” Browning said. “We were kind of nervous because we knew that there was potential to have a giant day like that, but we also knew that we could potentially fall on our face.

“We knew that if it went decent today and we basically survived, we could use enough of what we learned to piece it together on Day 2. We’re definitely in a better position than we realistically expected.”

Holding on to a lead for two days of competition has proven difficult this year in College Series competition, as a Day 1 leader has yet to take home a victory this season. Backing up their impressive Day 1 start on Day 2 will be the key to taking home the trophy and the $2,699 ($1,349 apiece) check.

“This is just halftime,” said Peck, who calls Tulsa, Okla., home. “It’s not time to get complacent and celebrate. We have to get back out there tomorrow and do the same thing, and if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be.”

All 219 boats will head back out Saturday for a chance to take home the title and to punch their ticket to the 2022 Strike King Bassmaster College National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops.

Competitors will take off 6:10 a.m. CT from Norfork Lake Marina/Henderson Park. The final weigh-in will begin back at the park at 2:10 p.m.

The tournament is being hosted by the Norfork Lake Chamber of Commerce.