The WCHS anglers were fishing for pride of place, plus a slot in the BASS High School National Championship in June this past weekend in Winchester, competing on Tims Ford Lake.
Finishing in third place overall was the team of Samuel and Matthew Vandagriff, who tallied 567 points over the qualifying events held in various locations in the Middle Tennessee area. Finishing not far behind the Vandagriff brothers were the team of Blake Delong and Asa Robertson who were in sixth place with 508 points, judged in each event by total weight and size of fish.
The placing puts both teams in the BASS High School National Championship taking place in Paris, TN June 22-24. Only 20 teams from Tennessee qualified.
“Not only one, but two, teams qualified out of hundreds of boats for the nationals,” said WCHS fishing team sponsor J.W. Holt. “It’s an abundance of hard work and passion they have where they enjoy what they’re doing. The sport is growing in popularity tremendously in the last few years. There are often more than 300 boats competing in a tournament.”
Heading out in a crowded pack of boats, the teams use vernacular only a fishing fan would recognize. Terms like Ugly Stick, Rooster Tail, spinner bait, Stren and others too numerous to mention are bantered about, in the predawn departure of the teams in what would be an unusual quiet beyond the initial sounds of their boat motors. No cheering crowds to pump you up, just the love of the sport and your own skills played out in a competition against yourself as much as others.
The Warren County anglers have been consistently good all season, winning many of the tournaments they entered. This isn’t the first rodeo for the Vandagriff brothers, who competed in nationals last year.
Their father, Barry Vandagriff, accompanied them on the boat and since they finished second and third on the first and second days, they were also joined in and out of the boat by an ESPN cameraman and a Bethel University College angler on the second and third days.
On the final day of the event, the Vandagriff’s finished seventh in downtown Paris with a total weight of 43 pounds, 15 ounces, receiving a $1,000 scholarship.
Samuel Vandagriff also made the prestigious honorable mention on the elite 2017 class of Bassmaster High School All-State Fishing Team presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. BASS received more than 380 nominations from across the nation, a 75 percent increase over the number nominated in the first two years of the program. From these, judges selected 69 student anglers from 40 states to make the All-State Fishing Teams.