Bass fishing team reels in tournament victory

UNA seniors Dawson Lenz (left) and Andrew Tate (right) await the results of their weigh-in during a collegiate bass fishing tournament this season. The duo placed fifth in the Fishing League Worldwide National Championship Tournament in South Carolina March 17-19.

by Sports Editor Mike Ezekiel

The UNA bass fishing team is looking to become Cabela’s School of the Year for the third-straight year and is on the fast track to do so.

The team of Mackenzie Henson, Caleb Dennis, Sloan Pennington and Triston Crowden reeled in 42.76 pounds to win the 2016 Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Open on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Arkansas, last week.

“This win was real big for us as individuals,” Henson said. “It’s big for the whole school. All of us felt very confident going into the first day (of the tournament).”

The team won $1,400 in gift cards, four Temple Fork Outfitter Rods and four Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Series Buffs, according to Cabela’s website.

In addition, the team moved into fourth place in the national rankings. The Lions are ranked behind the University of Alabama, Bryan College and Mississippi State, but are ahead of over 300 teams.

The Lions are the only team to ever win back-to-back Cabela’s School of the Year awards, said senior Andrew Tate, a member of the bass fishing team and the team’s social media coordinator.

In a Fishing League Worldwide National Championship Tournament at Lake Keowee in South Carolina March 17-19, the pairing of Tate and Dawson Lenz finished fifth place for the Lions. The duo reeled in over 35 pounds in a top 10 finish.

“We were sitting in 16th place after day one, and only the top 10 teams make the cut after day two,” Tate said. “We jumped up eight places on day two to go to eighth, and then jumped three more to finish fifth. The fifth team is the last to get money and prizes, so we cut it close.”

Lenz said the competition is a national championship event for angling, a type of fishing involving an angled hook

“We had to go through two different qualifying events to make that tournament,” Lenz said. “The top 50 anglers from all over the country were there. It’s a pretty big deal.”

The Lions’ next tournament is April 1-2 at Kentucky Lake.

Check out the April 7 edition of The Flor-Ala for a behind-the-scenes looks at the UNA bass fishing team.