LEESBURG, Fla. — High school and junior teams from throughout the state flocked to the Harris Chain of Lakes July 8 to compete for scholarship money and prizes.
The first Bassmaster Florida High School Fishing Scholarship Tournament gave away $6,000 in scholarship money to the top high school finishers. Prizes were awarded to the top teams in the junior division.
The tournament drew 49 high school and junior teams, which Florida B.A.S.S. Nation Youth Director Martin Bozeman considered a poor showing. “Now that people have seen what the kids walked away with it will get a lot better,” Bozeman said.
The youth director has grand plans for the event in the future. “That was just something I threw together and eventually I am going to make it a showcase tournament for colleges to come and set up their own tents and recruit kids and talk about their college programs--kind of like the baseball showcase tournaments,” he said. I want it to be the event of events.”
Bozeman has already set next year’s scholarship tournament for May 26-27 on Lake Seminole at Bainbridge, Ga. He is calling it the “Bainbridge Battle for Scholarships” and hopes to attract teams from Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Winning this year’s event in the high school division and $2,500 in scholarship money were Sammyjay Acree and Pablo Melina of Lake Wales High School with 16.89 pounds. Other scholarship winners included Alex Cook and Dennis Young of Forest High, second place, 14.69 pounds, $1,500; Jacob Teal and Garrett Thomas of Mulberry, third place, 14.01, $600; and big bass winners Curtis Johnson and Grady Johnson, 5.56 pounds, $500.
Tyger Lasman and Aaron Woodward won the junior division with 12.59 pounds and earned big bass honors with a 3.44-pound largemouth. Chase Mobley and Hagen Keene finished in second place with 10.56.