Bainbridge, Ga. – In this year's first regular-season qualifying tournament, the Bryan College Lions Fishing team did just that and qualified with a 5th place finish at the YETI College Fishing Southeastern Conference opener on Lake Seminole on Jan. 14. The team of Matt Brown (FR/Corbin, Ky.) and DJ Barber (SO/Birmingham, Ala.) punched their ticket to the 2018 FLW National Championship and cashed in $500 after bagging a weight of 15 pounds, 9 ounces.
There are two things that Bryan Head Fishing Coach, Mike Keen, said that are end-goals for the season: national championships and Cabela's School of the Year. With the help of Brown and Barber, Bryan already has a shot at next year's FLW National Championship. With less than 100 teams competing in this year's FLW National Championship, the Lions have an edge with four teams that will be fishing for the crown: Nathan Bell (SR/Riceville, Tenn.) and Dylan Kear (JR/Clinton, Tenn.), Cole Sands (SO/Calhoun, Tenn.) and Connor Cohran (FR/Dalton, Ga.), Jake Lee (FR/Knoxville, Tenn.) and Jacob Foutz (FR/Charleston, Tenn.), and Dylan Pritchett (JR/Evensville, Tenn.) and Connor Thompson (SO/Fort Payne, Ala.). The tournament will take place from May 31-June 2 at Wheeler Lake in Rogersville, Alabama. Along with an opportunity to win it all for FLW, the Lions also have three boats in Cabela's National Championship in May 2017 at Lake Pickwick in Florence, Alabama.
Bryan anticipates moving into the top-3 in the running for Cabela's School of the Year, currently sitting No. 8, after the impressive finish at Seminole. In order to total the points earned, of the 140 boats that participated, you must subtract your top place finisher which was 5th, and then add one. The 136 points should bump Bryan ahead of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, sending them back to 4th. The amount of boats fishing a tournament determines the number of points that will be awarded, which works out in the Lion's favor since their region and participation is sizeable. Cabela's School of the Year may better be explained comparing it to the collegiate football rankings leading up to the national championship, except the winner of school of the year gets to take home expensive gift cards towards Cabela's and Abu Garcia, credit towards next year's jerseys, and have a camera crew from NBC Sports spend a day on campus to prepare a 30-minute television show of the school and the anglers.
"I was real proud of this particular team," said Coach Keen. "Because this is the first tournament they have fished as a team. They had different partners in the fall, so this was their first time together, and I'm pleased with how well they performed."
The top 10 teams that advanced to the 2018 College Fishing National Championship are:
1st: University of Alabama – Anderson Aldag, Birmingham, Ala., and Lee Mattox, Bremen, Ala., five bass, 21-15, $2,000 Club Scholarship
2nd: Mississippi State University – Caleb Hebert, Poplarville, Miss., and Jack Stegall, Carriere, Miss., five bass, 18-4, $1,000 Club Scholarship
3rd: Calhoun Community College – Jordan Reeves, Hillsboro, Ala., and Denver Satterlee, Athens, Ala., five bass, 16-7, $500 Club Scholarship
4th: University of West Alabama – Charles Lewis, Linden, Ala., and Andrew Warbington, Coker, Ala., five bass, 15-13, $500 Club Scholarship
6th: University of Central Florida – Jacob Romani, Orlando, Fla., and Cole Hewett, Orange Park, Fla., five bass, 14-12
7th: Auburn University – Cameron Mercer, Deatsville, Ala., and Cole Burdeshaw, Newville, Ala., four bass, 12-14
8th: University of Tennessee-Chattanooga – Gavyn Bridges, Thompson Station, Tenn., and Dylan Anderson, Mount Juliet, Tenn., four bass, 12-3
9th: University of South Carolina – Tyler All, Dorchester, S.C., and Patrick Walters, Summerville, S.C., five bass, 12-2
10th: Mississippi State University – Andrew Brown, Gordo, Ala., and Cody Peak, Centreville, Miss., four bass, 11-15
FLW also advances one additional team to the National Championship for every 10 teams over 100 that compete. A total of 140 teams participated in this event, so also advancing to the 2018 College Fishing National Championship are:
11th: Auburn University – Josh Oliver, Anniston, Ala., and Dalton Childers, Morris, Ala., five bass, 11-6
12th: Augusta University – Zachary Ramsey, Augusta, Ga., and Joshua Rockefeller, Harlem, Ga., five bass, 11-3
13th: University of Tennessee-Chattanooga – Patrick Hoskins and Dillon Falardeau, both of Chattanooga, Tenn., five bass, 11-3
14th: Valdosta State University – Max Gresham, Adel, Ga., and Zachary Blake, Guyton, Ga., five bass, 10-12
Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
The next event for Southeastern Conference anglers is a tournament scheduled for Feb. 25 on Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama.
To keep up with the running for Cabela's School of the Year, click here.