UNA bass fishing finishes second in national rankings

UNA bass fishermen (from left to right) Andrew Tate, Makenzie Henson, Sloan Pennington and Caleb Dennis come up with a fishing strategy at McFarland Park April 4. UNA finished second in the Cabela’s School of the Year standings this season.

The UNA bass fishing team continued their tradition of success on the collegiate level, finishing second behind the University of Alabama in the standings for the Cabela’s School of the Year Award for the 2015-16 season.

Although the team did not complete the three-peat by winning the Cabela’s championship, it still had a strong showing at the Fishing League Worldwide southeastern regional at Lake Guntersville May 21.

Triston Crowder and Lake Blassingame was the cornerstone of a dominant performance by UNA. The two freshmen won the tournament with a weight of 27.6 pounds.

Seniors Hunter Haney and Andrew Tate followed Crowder and Blassingame with a fourth place finish, reeling in 22.4 pounds. The boat of freshmen Caleb Dennis and Sloan Pennington finished 12th for the Lions, and freshmen Koby Littrell and Martin McCravy finished 19th.

“After the practice days we had at Guntersville, I was feeling good about our chances of doing well,” Blassingame said. “It’s been a goal of mine to win a tournament at the college level and to win at Guntersville and at Lake Tohopekaliga (Florida). Doing it in my freshman year gives me motivation to do well in the years to come.”

The team’s success at the Guntersville tournament gave UNA four boats in the top 25 standings, more than any other school.

UNA defeated other bass fishing teams at various events, such as Mississippi State, Auburn, LSU, Clemson and Georgia, to achieve their second place finish. Over 300 schools competed this season.

“Beating larger and maybe more known schools is something most people don’t get to do very often, and it’s a great feeling,” Tate said.

UNA not only defeated larger universities at a handful of tournaments in the 2015-2016 season, but has consistently out-fished them in previous seasons.

The Lions finished second overall for the 2012-13 season and followed it with back-to-back first place finishes in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. UNA is still the only school to have won the championship two consecutive seasons.

“Alabama and Mississippi State are very talented, and if you beat those guys, it’s a confidence booster,” Tate said. “Fishing is 75 percent mental and can’t be done without a good mindset.”

One of the key factors in the UNA fishing team’s unprecedented success over the past few seasons is its nearness to three separate lakes within driving of UNA.

“UNA’s proximity to water definitely helps our team,” Tate said. “The fact that we can be in the water after class within 10 minutes while other schools have to travel up to a couple hours gives us a huge competitive advantage.”

With competitive fishing growing in popularity amongst high schools, UNA is positioned to continue its dynasty in the sport, Andrew Tate said.

“I see college fishing at UNA growing for sure,” Tate said. “Younger guys see what we get to do each year, and they want to contribute just like we do.” “We just want to fish competitively, and UNA is one of the best schools in the country for that.”

To find the collegiate bass fishing standings, visit collegiatebasschampionship.com. Fans can also follow the UNA Bass Fishing team on its Facebook page.