High School Championship: Consider the possibilities


Brenden Kanies

Mercedes Ellis and Gage Sherrod

PARIS, Tenn. – Something fantastic could happen today when the 12 remaining teams weigh-in at the Mossy Oak Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors.

Just consider the possibilities.

Grayson Morris and Tucker Smith are leading the tournament with a two-day total of 37 pounds, 6 ounces. The duo, which is representing Briarwood Christian School out of Birmingham, Ala., won the 2018 national championship right here on Kentucky Lake. If they were to win this year’s title, they would be the first college series team to win consecutive national championships.

That would be impressive, for sure.

Then there’s Mercedes Ellis and Gage Sherrod, who are in second place with a two-day weight of 33-1. They’ll have their work cut out for them on Saturday not only because they’ll have to erase a deficit of more than four pounds to win, but they’ll have to do so on their home lake.

It may sound like nonsense, but the “Home Water Jinx” is well-known throughout the ranks of every level of tournament B.A.S.S. organizes, and Ellis and Sherrod are from right here in the northwest corner of Tennessee. They know Kentucky Lake as well as any of the 300 teams that started the competition here on Thursday, and they certainly know the lake’s nuances better than any of the dozen duos fishing Saturday.

If the tandem from Henry County High tandem wins, it would make a fantastic story for several reasons, and one of them certainly would be because Ellis and Sherrod were able to win on home water.

But “being local” would be decidedly secondary if the Henry County team wins later today. That’s because Ellis would be the first female angler to share a Bassmaster High School Series title, and that would be groundbreaking stuff for not only Ellis, but for female anglers and the sport, in general.

And with that in mind, how special would it be if the female tandem of Daelyn Whaley and Lilly Smith climbed from third place (32-8 through two days) to win a national championship? It hasn’t been done before in the league; that two young women won a high school title. But it could happen later today.