Following up a record first day at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series on Lake Hartwell, the Catawba Valley Community College bass fishing team added another impressive accolade to its program history — its first-ever national championship berth.
The duo of Jeremy Dellinger and Nathan Smith are ranked second after the three-day tournament in South Carolina, and in the process, have qualified for the 2020 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, which takes place on Oct. 29-31 in Leesburg, Fla.
“I felt good about this tournament from the beginning,” said CVCC bass fishing head coach Angela Mayo. “They all had good practices and were confident going into the tournament. I felt like we had a shot at having at least one team, if not two teams qualify. I’m really excited to have a team qualify. They are so young. This is still basically their first year. To have a team qualify in the first year of the program is incredible.”
Dellinger and Smith, who entered the day as the tournament leaders, caught a three-fish limit of six pounds, 14 ounces — recording a two-day tournament total of 18 pounds, seven ounces of bass.
That total weight placed them only three ounces out of the lead and by virtue of being one of the top 12 tandems during the first two days of competition, they advanced to Saturday’s third and final day of the tournament while also earning a berth in October’s National Championship.
“Qualifying for the national championship is something that I’ve dreamed about doing ever since I was little,” Dellinger said. “To finally accomplish that is super special to me, and I’ll certainly never forget it. We’ve been catching large mouth bass all week, but today we caught the biggest spotted bass I’ve seen so far this trip, and I got a feeling that something was going right for us.”
Smith is very happy that he and Dellinger have qualified for the national championship despite being in a tough tournament field.
“It feels great to qualify for nationals, especially as stiff as the competition was,” Smith said. “It’s unbelievable to look at the leaderboard and to see some of the names under ours. I’ve looked up to some of the anglers we beat, and it feels good to earn their respect.”
Not only did Dellinger and Smith impress, but all four Red Hawk duos finished inside the top 85 teams of the 115-boat field.
The Red Hawks’ Lane Bailey and Adam Seagle, who entered the day in second place, struggled during Friday’s second day of competition and caught only two of their three-fish limit for two pounds, three ounces.
However, their total weight of 12 pounds, eight ounces placed them 24th on the final leaderboard.
CVCC’s Caleb Lonca and Justin Eggers caught three fish for a total of three pounds, 10 ounces. They finished in 56th place overall.
The final Red Hawk pair — Spencer Black and Lucas Oliver — caught one fish during Friday’s day of competition, finishing with a total weight of six pounds, five ounces in 85th place.