Twelve of the top high school anglers in the country have been selected as new members of the notable Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, including Morganton’s Hunter Keller.
“For seven years, the Bassmaster High School All-American program has identified and honored some of the most accomplished student athletes in the country,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “We’ve seen past members go on to decorated college fishing careers and even compete in the iconic Bassmaster Classic, and know that this group of 12 outstanding All-Americans is equally as talented. We appreciate Academy Sports + Outdoors for partnering with B.A.S.S. to recognize these athletes’ fishing skills and commitment to academics, conservation and community service.”
Over 300 applications nominating students in grades 10-12 were submitted from 34 states across the nation. Of these, 47 students were chosen as Bassmaster All-State anglers. After considering tournament résumés, conservation efforts, community service activities and recommendations from school officials and coaches, a panel of judges consisting of representatives from the sportfishing industry, media and conservation groups further narrowed the field to the Top 12 high school anglers in the country.
“Congratulations to our newest Bassmaster High School All-Americans,” said Hank Weldon, senior manager of the B.A.S.S. High School program. “Our program is exclusive to only the most well-rounded and driven high school anglers, and each of these 12 young anglers and their parents should be proud of this accomplishment. I am looking forward to honoring their achievements at the Neely Henry Elite in May.”
The 2021 All-American team has been invited to participate in an exclusive Bassmaster High School All-American Tournament, which will be held in conjunction with the 2021 Bassmaster Elite at Neely Henry Lake, scheduled to take place May 6-9 in Gadsden, Ala. Each All-American angler will be paired with an Elite Series pro for the one-day derby to be held on a nearby fishery.
Hunter Keller, a senior at Freedom High School, won three tournaments in the 2020 season, as well as two Top 5s and three Top 20s, including a sixth-place finish in the Bassmaster High School National Championship, which featured a field of 240-plus boats. He also competed in the Foothills Marine Tuesday Night Tournaments, where in the span of 15 tournaments he won once, placed in the Top 5 twice and secured an additional five Top 10 finishes.
“His passion for fishing led him to start the Freedom High School Bass Team,” said Dustin Haigler, Freedom High School club advisor. “Since its initiation, the club has performed exceptionally well in tournaments but also in reaching out to help serve local businesses and supporters, all of which Hunter has had a direct influence over.”
Keller was the highest-placing Yamaha Engine in the Bassmaster High School National Championship, which netted him $10,000 through the Yamaha Power Pay program. He was the eighth recruit in the nation for Top Tier Fishing and the first in the state of North Carolina. He currently sits in first place in points standings for the North Carolina High School B.A.S.S. Nation and finished in the Top 5 in 2019 and 2020. Alongside his fishing and community service work, Keller also runs his own lure-making business, Dirty Dawgs Custom Lures, works as a farmhand at a local ranch and works as a seasonal employee at a Christmas tree farm.