Bryan Fishing Places Three Boats in the Top-20 on Cherokee
DAYTON, Tenn. – One week after winning the 2018 YETI FLW College Fishing tournament held on Lake Chickamauga presented by Bass Pro Shops, the boat of Nathan Bell and Cole Sands helped lead the Bryan College fishing team to a fourth-place finish in an enormous 263-boat Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Eastern Tour event presented by Bass Pro Shops on Cherokee Lake over the weekend. In addition to the duo’s impressive feat of 40 pounds 14 ounces over the three-day span, the Lions also had the tandems of Johnathan Peck and Griffin Heffington compile 39 pounds 9 ounces for seventh and Thad Simerly and Ethan Shaw notch 19th overall with 35 pounds and 11 ounces.
On the first day, Bell and Sands weighed in 13.9 which was good enough for 19th, but the duo went on the attack in day two and fought for a 14.5-pound bag that propelled them into fifth, marking the second largest bag of the day. They hauled in an even 13 pounds in the finale, moving them into fourth. The tournament allowed all teams to fish Thursday and Friday, but the top-32 would only fish Saturday. Bryan managed to have three boats represent them in the final day and didn’t disappoint with two cracking the top-10 and another finishing inside the top-20. The only other school to come even close to that type of finish was rival Bethel University (Tenn.). It was Lucas Murphy and Nolan Hitt of Grand Valley State University (Mich.) who came from behind and captured the crown with a total of 42 pounds and 10 ounces over the course of the event. They overtook Bethel’s Cully Scroggins and Nathon Portch, who held the lead on both day one and day two of the event, but wound up placing third overall (41.2). The University of Alabama team of Lee Mattox and Anderson Aldag finished second with 41 pounds and 6 ounces.
Two Bryan teams had already qualified for the 2018 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops, which will be held in July on Oklahoma’s Lake Tenkiller. Bell and Sands qualified at the Bassmaster Carhartt College Southern Tour tournament in late April that took place on Pickwick, and the duo of Simerly and Shaw qualified on Toledo Bend during the first event of the year for Bryan, the Bassmaster Carhartt College Central Tour. It was a big day though for Peck and Heffington as they punched their ticket to Oklahoma with their notable three-day performance.
The new addition of the Bassmaster’s Team of the Year competition this season has also made things interesting, tacking on another contest that the anglers are contending for. Competitors in each of the four tour stops this year are being awarded points based upon their performances, which truly has provided a barometer of “Who’s Hot?” and “Who’s Not?” for the anglers. High in the TOY standings are Bell and Sands, especially after their victory on Cherokee. With another high finish, the two are certain to climb the rankings. Currently, the Lion’s duo sits in fifth place. Simerly and Shaw trail in 14th.
“I can’t say this enough, of how truly proud I am of our guys and the way they are competing,” said Bryan Head Fishing Coach, Mike Keen. “It’s impressive to consistently finish at the top, and the trio of boats to place within the top-20, having two end up in the top-10 of 260 plus boats is a huge accomplishment! Our guys have had nothing short of a phenomenal season, and it’s exciting to see how we capitalized for a strong finish with a win on Chickamauga and a fourth-place finish on Cherokee. Now we are looking forward to the championships!”
The Lions will hit the water on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Alabama for Cabela’s 2018 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship that runs May 21-25. Bryan will have four boats competing in the tournament. The Lions had one automatic entry, received two more entries from fishing in two of Cabela’s events they hosted this year, and the final entry came from a wild card drawing. Bell and Sands will look to lead the way with the Fogg Brothers, Chandler and Connor, sure to make a splash. Jake Lee and Dalton Price will also be representing the Lions on the big stage, as well as, the freshman duo of Trevor St. John and Bailey Fain.