Hartley’s Hawgs win first state championship

WESTERVILLE, Ohio — Two members of a club named after Bassmaster Elite Series pro Charlie Hartley won the Ohio B.A.S.S. Nation High School/Youth Angler Championship, June 6-7, at Rocky Fork Lake.

Wade Pritsel and Joe Kovatch of the Hartley’s Hawgs High School Bass Fishing Club won the high school event. The tournament was made up of two single-day events in which the Day 1 weights did not carry over to Day 2.

Pritsel and Kovatch led the first day with 11.04 pounds and also topped the field on the second day with 12.66. They also caught the big bass for both days.

“This is the first time in the history of Hartley’s Hawgs that we have had a state champion,” said Karl Guegold, the club advisor and a 2003 Bassmaster Classic qualifier. “I am ecstatic.”

The Ohio B.A.S.S. Nation high school champs qualified for the 2015 Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by TNT Fireworks, July 22-25, at Kentucky Lake. They also earned the opportunity to compete in the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Divisional, Aug. 26-28, on Lake Vermillion in Minnesota.

Hartley’s Hawgs was spawned from the Walnut Springs Fishing Club that Hartley founded when he was in middle school.

“Years later, some of the kids from the Walnut Springs club were so passionate about fishing when they moved on to high school they wanted to start a high school club and they honored me by naming the club after me,” Hartley said. “One of the things I am most proud of is those kids running around with my name on them.”

“I don’t have any kids so it is really cool that I can pass my passion on to them,” Hartley said. “So many kids have been introduced to fishing because of that club.”

The Ohio pro tries to hold at least one seminar a year with the club. “He comes out and talks to the kids and roots them on,” said Guegold. “He is just a classy guy.”

Guegold also noted Hartley has provided jerseys and banners for the club.

Hartley gave credit for the success of the team to Guegold, the club's co-advisor Vic Buzard and the club’s former co-advisor, Mark Raymond.

“Those advisors do all the work,” Hartley said. “All I do is send in a check and get a lot of accolades from the kids, but those guys do all the work and it is a labor of love for them.”

Their labor of love has now given the club a chance to fish for a national championship title.