SMITHVILLE, Mo. — All the competitors in the Panther Classic High School Open Bass Tournament came away winners May 3 at Smithville Lake.
Support from national companies and local businesses made the second annual tournament hosted by the Park Hill South High School club successful, despite a small turnout.
“I had more sponsorships and more items for the kids than I had kids,” said Gary Soske, co-coach of the Park Hill South team. “Everybody walked out with $40 to $50 worth of stuff.”
Major supporters of the event included B.A.S.S. sponsors Bass Pro Shops, Yamaha and Berkley.
The 12 teams kept their five largest 15-inch fish to bring to the scales, but they could also weigh, record and immediately release the fish they caught that were 12 to 15 inches long. The combined weights of the fish weighed in the boat and at the scales determined the winner.
“Berkley donated all the hand-held scales that we used in the boats, which allowed us to do the format we had,” Soske said. “If we hadn’t had those scales, we would have been in dire straits and would have had to do something different.”
Clayton Chisam and Max Ivy of Kearney High School won the tournament with 17.49 pounds. Liberty North High’s Bryce Kiely and Justin Dixon took second with 16.66, and Park Hill South High anglers Jeff Hatten and Valor Bowles finished third with 14.30. Kiely and Dixson of Liberty North also caught the biggest bass of the tournament, a 4.18-pounder.
The tournament was open to all high schools and also served as a qualifier for the Missouri B.A.S.S. Nation high school state championship.
Soske plans to hold next year’s tournament with the same format in late April or early May.
“Hopefully we will break that 20-boat barrier and get more people involved,” Soske said. “That’s the goal.”