High School Championship:
89 teams took to the waters of Lake Okeechobee to compete for that last National Berths still up for the taking. Florida had already qualified 14 other high school teams for Nationals through the respected trails that Florida Bass Nation offered them this year. So, the stage was set for the showdown! One more berth on the line!
Okeechobee was not as giving as usual this time of year. With a very windy day for Day 1 of competition it proved to make it tough for some teams to access areas that they found fish in practice. After day 1 concluded the team of Joey Bloom and Dylan Westhelle of the Seminole County High School Anglers we’re on top of the hs division with 17.55lbs with the closest team being just a little over a pound behind. This meant it was still anyone’s game!
Day 2 started off with hardly any wind and managed to stay that way for the teams throughout the day except for a little shower right at weigh in time. Despite the rain the crowd still waited and hung in there to see who would become the state champions! After the dust settled the team of Stanley Fisher and Briar Napier from Highlands County Anglers jumped up and took home the win to become the State Champions for 2018! They had a two-day total of 41.3lbs! Stanley and Briar, however, were already qualified for Nationals through one of the trails they fished. This meant the next team in line that wasn’t already qualified would secure that last National HS Berth! That team was the team of Carsten Mcinnes and Charlie Albert of Marion County High. Carsten and Charlie were sitting in 14th place after day 1 and made an impressive jump up the leaderboard to 4th place to secure the remaining national berth! Big bass on both days went to the 2nd place team Ashton Smith and Cole Tennihill of West Volusia River Rats. On day one their big bass was 7.69lbs and on day two 7.03lbs.
Jr Division Championship:
15 Jr teams showed up to battle it out to punch their ticket to the national Jr Championship! After Day 1 the team of Claude Loftin and Dylan Murrell from the were holding the lead with their 14.01lb bag. With almost a 3lb lead on the rest of the field. One thing has to be pointed out. This is Okeechobee, and anything can happen. Well happen it did! Fisher Cusic and Corbin Cepero only had 11.54lbs going into day 2. They brought in a 19.75lb bag for day 2 giving them the title of 2018 Jr State Champions and that remaining Jr berth to Nationals.
The other Jr berth went to the jr team of the year, Jeremy Monda and Will Boyd, and was based on points they earned through fishing the Florida Bass Nation State Qualifiers.
This year Florida will be sending 15 high school teams and 2 Jr teams to Nationals! This is the first time Florida has ever sent this many teams to compete at the National Level!