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Teams Ranked 16-20 in the 2022-23 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia

SAN ANTONIO, TX – The Association of Collegiate Anglers is doing an end of season recap for the 2022-23 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Over the course of a 12 month stretch, hundreds of teams from all across the country, ranging from California, up to Michigan, and down to Florida, compete in dozens of events, earning points to count towards college fishing’s only all-encompassing National Rankings system. The conclusion of the season at the end of May marked the completion of the 13th season of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. As the feature article series continues, today we will take a look at teams that finished the season ranked 16-20.

16.Dallas Baptist University (Dallas, TX)

Total points: 26,010

The first team we will take a look at today is Dallas Baptist University. DBU finished the 2022-23 season in 16th place for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia with 26,010 points. This marks seven straight seasons in which the team from Dallas has finished the year ranked inside of the Top 25.

“The SOY race is the most coveted program ranking in college bass fishing. Every year, the competition seems to get better and better, so to finish in the Top 20 is a great honor for DBU. The guys compete all over the country and spend countless hours on the water to achieve this goal.”

DBU got off to a hot start for the 2022-23 season as team member Parker Brown won the first ACA no-entry-fee, double points event of the year. Brown won the 2022 Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley with a largemouth bass weighing 7.21 pounds. His twin brother and fellow teammate, Layton Brown, finished the event in 15th. Those two Top 15 finishes earned DBU 3,360 points at Kentucky Lake.

Dallas Baptist University competed in all four ACA major events this past season.  All total, DBU earned 13,680 points at ACA events. That accounts for more than half of the team’s season total, a total that had them amongst the 16 best teams in all of collegiate bass fishing.

17.Kentucky Christian University (Grayson, KY)

Total points: 24,720

Finishing just over 1,200 points behind 16th ranked DBU is Kentucky Christian University. KCU earned a total of 24,720 points to end the year ranked 17th in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. “It is pretty special to be in the Top 20 considering this is only the 4th year (going into 5th year) of being a new sport at our school,” said Mitch Johnson, Kentucky Christian University angler.

“Our coach, Gene Nornhold, has done a great job recruiting and getting kids from different states the past few seasons and that benefits the team in having at least a few different teams who are used to the places we travel because they are from there,” explained Jonathan Fraley, KCU angler. “We are expanding rapidly and expect to double the team numbers next year which should help in the SOY race.”

KCU’s best event of the season came at the MLF College Championship on Lake Toho in late February. The school placed two teams in the Top 25. Lafe Messer & Matt Messer finished in 7th and Riley Lawson claimed 24th. Those two Top 25’s earned KCU 3,420 points.

The remainder of KCU’s season saw them finish, on average, in the middle of the pack at most of their events. The team from Grayson, KY earned over 2,000 points at only five events throughout the 2022-23 campaign. Going into this upcoming season, the team is optimistic about their chances for improvement. “Realistically, I think a Top 10 is possible for our team next year because of the sheer numbers we will have. That will allow the team to spread around all the events to get the most points possible,” concluded Fraley.

18. Catawba Valley Community College (Hickory, NC)

Total points: 24,225

“Like any sports team, we always strive to be the best we can be. We are a junior college with limited funds and to be able to finish in the Top 20 in the nation in our sport is pretty special,” said Angela Mayo, CVCC Bass Fishing Head Coach.

Checking in at 18th in the final standings for the 2022-23 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia is Catawba Valley Community College. Coming off of a program high 15th place finish last year, this makes three straight seasons in which CVCC has finished in the Top 20 of the prestigious National Rankings.

“This is just our 4th year, and to finish in the Top 20 three years in a row definitely speaks to the quality of our anglers,” added Mayo. “These young men work hard to represent our school well. Each day, they strive to be better than they were yesterday!”

CVCC anglers competed in all four ACA major events this past season. Their two best finishes in those no-entry-fee events came at Lake Dardanelle for the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open, and at the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops on Lake Hartwell. CVCC earned 3,110, and 4,625 points respectively at those particular tournaments.

CVCC also secured a major college victory on the national level at the MLF college event on the Harris Chain back in January. Will Hammond & Cabe Mackey took home the win with a five bass limit weighing 25 pounds 5 ounces. Combine that victory with CVCC’s next highest finishing team at that event and the school earned 1,860 points that weekend.

19.Lander University (Greenwood, SC)

Total points: 24,180

Lander University, located in Greenwood, SC, finished the 2022-23 race for Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia in 19th. Since 2017, Lander has begun a slow and steady climb that has propelled them to be amongst the best bass fishing teams in the nation. Here is a glimpse at the school’s finishes in the National Rankings over the past six seasons:

2017-18: 104th

2018-19: 33rd

2019-20: 29th

2020-21: 29th

2021-22: 28th

2022-23: 19th

“From top to bottom, we are more talented than we’ve ever been,” said Drew Pridgen, Head Coach at Lander University. “Being that this was only our second year fully backed by our university, it speaks volumes to what we have within our program.”

Lander was very active out on the college circuit this past year. The team competed in a total of 27 points earning events. This included two ACA major events and maxing out on the total number of School-Run events a given school could earn points at, 10.

The team from Greenwood, SC had its best event of the season close to home to wrap up the year. Lander had a very strong showing at the triple points BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops on Lake Hartwell. Lander earned a total of 5,720 points at the ACA’s year-end National Championship event. Two Top 35 finishes placed Lander amongst esteemed company at Lake Hartwell, as they were just 1 of 10 schools, out of a field comprised of more than 70 universities, to earn over 5,500 points.

20.Wabash Valley College (Mt. Carmel, IL)

Total points: 23,675

Rounding out the Top 20 for the 2022-23 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia is Wabash Valley College. WVC is the second junior college to be featured in this article. The team from Mt. Carmel, IL finished the year in 20th with 23,675 points.

“It is such a blessing to have been able to finish both my years at WVC within the Top 20 in the SOY race. Being on that leaderboard alongside some household names is something that means more to my teammates and I than I can put into words,” said Mason Gross, WVC angler. “It’s a testament of the dedication our guys and girls pour into what we do, and going forward we hope to keep climbing the ladder for School of the Year!”

“In a very short period of time, a foundation of high expectations has been laid for our anglers and program,” said Todd Gill, Head Coach at Wabash Valley College. “Our anglers push one another in preparation for events, in practice while at events, and then trying to execute every minute of every tournament day to see the results out outcomes we are chasing after. With our anglers only being with us for two years, the learning curve is steep and fast; being thrown in the fire sharpens you in a hurry.”

Wabash Valley College is a team that first showed up on the college fishing circuit back in the fall of 2020. Since their first year as a recognized team in 2020-21, WVC has finished every season in the Top 20 for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia.

“As a junior college, our roster is made up of 18-20 year olds, much different to most universities we compete against where most competitors have 2-3 more years’ experience than we do,” continued Gross. “I’m super proud of our program and all the guys and girls that helped us finish where we did this year. I would argue that we have some of the hardest working anglers in the college field and I can’t wait to see where that hard work is going to put us moving forward.”

WVC competed in all four ACA major events this past season.  Those four events accounted for 8,985 of WVC’s 23,675 total points last year.

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