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Adrian College Claims 1-Ounce Win At 2024 Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented By YETI National Championship

Kissimmee, FL – The Adrian College duo of Braylon Eggerding and Lucas Washburn, both of Grand Rapids, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit Thursday totaling 23 pounds, 9 ounces to win the 2024 Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI National Championship at Lake Toho . Eggerding and Washburn totaled 10 bass for 42-4 over two days of competition, edging out runners up Carter Doren and Ryan Lachniet of Campbellsville University (42-3) by just 1 ounce.

This is the first College Fishing National Championship win for the Bulldogs, who came from behind in the weather-shortened event to take home their first national championship title. The win earns the team a $43,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard and an additional $10,000, as well as automatic entry into the 2024 Toyota Series Championship to compete as pros for a shot to win up to $235,000 and the chance to compete in REDCREST 2025 – MLF’s most prestigious championship.

Although strong winds and inclement weather forced the cancelation of the first day of competition on Tuesday, the next two days proved lucrative on the water, with multiple 20-pound bags crossing the stage both days. After finishing Day 1 in 10th place (8-9 behind leaders Nick Dumke and Easton Fothergill of University of Montevallo) the Bulldog duo’s 23-9 on the final day propelled them to the biggest final-day comeback at the National Championship since at least 2016. 

When Eggerding and Washburn launched their boat Thursday morning, they believed they still had a chance to take home the trophy. Although they’d entered the second and final day of the weather-shortened event tied for 10th place and more than 8 pounds back of the leaders, they knew the Kissimmee Chain held enough giant bass to make up the deficit.

By the time they returned to Big Toho Marina for weigh-in, however, the Adrian College duo thought the opportunity had slipped away. It wasn’t that Eggerding and Washburn had struggled. They sacked up 23 pounds, 9 ounces — nearly 5 pounds more than the day prior — including a massive, 11-7 kicker. But with seven teams having topped 20 pounds on Day 1, including a 27-3 bag from Montevallo’s Dumke and Fothergill, they didn’t think it would be enough. Eggerding kicked himself over a big one that broke off late in the day.

“Honestly, we didn’t think we’d have enough to win,” Eggerding said. “We thought we’d get beat by at least a few pounds. I had lost a key fish that I broke off – a 6-,7-pounder – so we were kind of down.”

The feeling wouldn’t last long. Eggerding and Washburn watched from the hot seat on stage as each of the final 10 teams brought their fish to the scales. Each came up short. Their two-day total of 42-4 ultimately edged the Campbellsville University team of Doren and Lachniet by a single ounce.

“Utter disbelief,” Washburn said of his reaction. “I had no words. I mean, I had a million thoughts racing through my mind, but just nothing came out.”

Eggerding and Washburn pulled off the victory by bucking the trend set by the other contenders.

Most of the top finishers on Day 1 used forward-facing sonar to target bass with jerkbaits, glide baits and other reaction baits — generally doing so in Lake Toho. However, that bite fizzled under Thursday’s chilly, overcast conditions. Doren and Lachniet were the only team who caught more than 20 pounds Wednesday to replicate the feat. Dumke and Fothergill mustered just 11-6 Thursday, opening the door for the rest of the field. 

Eggerding and Washburn, meanwhile, ran to Lake Kissimmee and employed more traditional Florida methods. They plied lily pads and submerged hydrilla around the mouth of a pocket, targeting fish that were moving up to spawn with lipless crankbaits, vibrating jigs and swimming worms.

“I think with the area that we were in, the clouds and wind actually helped our bite,” Washburn said. “The wind, especially, helped to position those fish on the lily pad points and those hydrilla points and made it a lot easier for us to target them.”

Eggerding said the tandem made the run to Kissimmee because of its history of producing tournament wins. As the event progressed, they figured out the bigger bass weren’t interested in slow presentations, so they had to make the fish react.

Their starting spot Thursday didn’t yield a keeper. But on his first cast in their second area, Eggerding caught a 4-pounder. A few minutes later, he said it felt like his lipless crankbait “just ran into some standing timber.” After a nerve-wracking fight, Washburn scooped the 11-7 brute into the net. It would take home Berkley Big Bass honors with ease, weighing 2 ½ pounds more than the second-largest fish of the event.

“She grabbed it and pulled straight backwards, and it went really wherever it wanted,” Eggerding said. “It got into some lily pads, and obviously that’s really scary with treble hooks. So, we kind of just let it play itself out. We were going crazy when we finally caught it.”

In the moments after weigh-in, their future opportunities hadn’t really sunk in yet. But both Eggerding and Washburn noted their pride in bringing a championship back to Adrian College, which had a second team finish among the Top 10.

“It’s huge,” Washburn said. “Hopefully it’s the start of some momentum that we can keep rolling throughout the season. It’s going to be huge for our points. It’s going to be a huge morale boost for the team overall. And we’re excited that we were able to pull it off.”

The top 10 teams on Lake Toho finished: 

1st:     Adrian College – Braylon Eggerding and Lucas Washburn, both of Grand Rapids, Mich., 10 bass, 42-4, $43,500
2nd:    Campbellsville University – Carter Doren of Las Vegas, Nev., and Ryan Lachniet of Gum Spring, Va., 10 bass, 42-3, $33,500
3rd:     University of Montevallo – Brandon Berry and Hunter Bright, both of Helena, Ala., 10 bass, 38-13, $4,000
4th:     University of Montevallo – Nicholas Dumke and Easton Fothergill, both of Grand Rapids, Minn., 10 bass, 38-9, $3,000
5th:     Emmanuel University – Robert Miller of Savannah, Ga., and John Micheal Ortman of Douglas, Ga., 10 bass, 38-4, $2,000
6th:     Florida Gateway College – Bryson O’Steen of Live Oak, Fla., 10 bass, 37-3, $1,000
7th:     University of Montevallo – Neal Braddy of Ailey, Ga., and Merritt Arnold of Watkinsville, Ga., 10 bass, 37-0, $1,000
8th:     Carson-Newman University – Ben Cully of Rockwall, Texas, and Hayden Gaddis of Seymour, Tenn., 10 bass, 36-8, $1,000
9th:     Tarleton State-Stephenville – Garett Cadenhead of Fort Worth, Texas, and Jared Mizell of Pearland, Texas, 10 bass, 36-3, $1,000
10th:   Adrian College – Gerald Brumbaugh of Martinsburgh, Penn., and Mitchell Straffon of Fenton, Mich., 10 bass, 35-0, $1,00

For a full list of results, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 598 bass weighing 1,375 pounds, 10 ounces caught by 125 teams Thursday. The catch included 104 five-bass limits.

The 15th annual College Fishing National Championship is a three-day event – hosted by Experience Kissimmee – featuring the top 135 college bass fishing teams from across the nation competing in an internationally televised, no-entry-fee tournament for a $43,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard and an additional $10,000. 

For the first time ever at the College Fishing National Championship, teams only fished two days, with the full field of 135 teams competing on Wednesday and Thursday. The National Champions were crowned on Championship Thursday based on the cumulative two-day weight total.

In addition to the boat package, both members of the winning Adrian College team and the runners-up from Campbellsville University now advance to the 2024 Toyota Series Championship, where they’ll compete as pros for a top prize of up to $235,000. In addition, the winning Adrian College team’s highest finishing team member at the Toyota Series Championship will advance to REDCREST 2025 to compete against the world’s best pros for the sport’s top prize of $300,000.

Both members of the third-place University of Montevallo team from the College Fishing National Championship will advance to the 2024 Toyota Series Championship to compete as co-anglers for a shot at winning a $33,500 Phoenix 518 pro with a 115-horsepower outboard.

Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI teams compete in nine regular-season qualifying tournaments around the country. The top 12% of teams from each qualifying event advance to the following year’s Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI National Championship.

Proud sponsors of the 2024 MLF Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI include: 7Brew, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Bubba, E3, Epic Baits, General Tire, Lew’s, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix Boats, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Suzuki, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota and YETI.

For complete details and updated tournament information, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular College Fishing updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF5’s social media outlets at FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, Discovery Channel, Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, World Fishing Network and on demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 17 countries. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.

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