After announcing The Topeka Capital-Journal’s first-ever All-State High School Bass Fishing Team last week, it’s now time to crown the 2019-20 High School Angler Team of the Year.
There were several teams that were worthy of the top team award this season based on their performances in both the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) and Kansas BASS Nation (KBN) high school fishing circuits, but one team stood out to me as having a bigger year than the rest.
And so, I must congratulate Legacy Christian’s Ryder Mains and Mason Chapman on winning the C-J’s first Angler Team of the Year honor.
Mains and Chapman had a banner year on the FLW circuit, finishing third in the FLW High School State Championship and sixth at the FLW High School National Championship. Their 12th-place finish at the FLW World Finals, which ran concurrent with nationals, earned them an $80,000 scholarship offer.
In addition to their success on the FLW circuit, the team also finished third in the KBN High School season opener Sept. 7, 2019, on Melvern Reservoir and are set to compete in next weekend’s KBN High School State Championship, Sept. 12-13 on Bone Creek.
There were several other teams I considered for the top spot, as well, thanks to their exploits throughout the year. If I were to pick a runner-up, it would have to be the Kickback team of Cale Harlan and Derek Landis, both of Gardner-Edgerton. That team posted a series of fantastic finishes during this unusual high school fishing season, winning the KBN opener on Melvern and finishing second at the July 25 event on Milford. They also posted a top-five finish at the FLW state championship.
Buhler’s Nathan Fideldy and Preston Gover also earned a look for consistently landing near the top of the leaderboard at KBN events this season. The pair earned the KBN’s Angler Team of the Year award based on their points throughout the season, though they didn’t win any events.
Fideldy and Gover finished third in the KBN opener, then second on Oct. 5, 2019, at LaCygne and fourth during the monthlong online qualifier in June.
Another Kickback team, Jackson Opheim and Luke Crane, both of Shawnee Mission West, also were deserving of consideration after posting three top-five finishes — including a win on LaCygne. The pair also took fifth in the online qualifier and third during the final qualifier of the season last month on Wilson.
Finally, the Topeka team of Parker Still and Connor Brees, both Shawnee Heights graduates, were also among my considerations. However, as this is a team award, they fell back quite a bit as most of Still’s biggest accomplishments this year came on the FLW circuit while fishing with a different partner from Oklahoma, including winning the FLW High School Open on Table Rock Lake and taking 21st in the FLW World Finals.
They did, however, finish second together at the FLW state championship and fifth at the KBN season opener.
Congratulations to everyone for a great regular season and best of luck next weekend at state!
Bobcat junior team looks to continue success at state
The Basehor-Linwood Bobcat Bass Club youth team of Joey Batesel and Dylon Ewing will look to continue their winning ways during the Kansas BASS Nation Youth State Championship, also slated for Sept. 12-13 on Bone Creek.
Batesel and Ewing knocked off KBN Youth Angler Team of the Year Nick and Kyle Herrman, of Topeka, in the final qualifier of the year Aug. 9 on Wilson Reservoir, ending a four-tournament win streak for the Topeka Jr. Hawgs team with an impressive 12-pound bag.
That weight beat the second-place squad of Carson Youngblood and Evan Vielhauer — their Bobcat teammates — by more than three pounds.
The Herrman brothers finished third, posting 7.97 pounds to edge out their Topeka Jr. Hawgs teammates, Laiken Emanuel and Avery Bowen, who finished fourth with 7.69 pounds. Bobcats Levi Sorenson and Levi Franzen (7.01) rounded out the top five.
With the Herrman brothers winning KBN Youth Angler Team of the Year, they earned an automatic berth to the Bassmaster Junior National Championship, which runs Oct. 19-20 on Carroll County Lake in Tennessee. As such, the twins won't compete in the state championship, but will instead go down to Tennessee and Kentucky for some pre-fishing. Emanuel and Bowen, however, will still represent Topeka at state.
Joining Batesel/Ewing, Youngblood/Vielhauer and Sorenson/Franzen at the youth state championship from Basehor-Linwood will be four other Bobcat squads: Cydney Hutchinson and Brylee Little, Carter Markley and Gavin Denney, Cale Denney and Jonas Lawler-White and Logan Plum and River Kiernan.