San Antonio, TX – The Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia is college fishing’s only all-encompassing national rankings system. Over the course of a 12-month season, thousands of college anglers representing hundreds of schools compete in dozens of points earning events. Each year, teams enter the new season with high hopes and the goal of being ranked inside of the coveted Top 25. To kick off the new season, the Association of Collegiate Anglers has conducted its annual Pre-Season Poll. In this third and final article, we will announce the Top 5 ranked teams, as voted upon by anglers, coaches, and media members.
- Auburn University
- University of Montevallo
- Adrian College
- Carson-Newman University
- McKendree University
1.Auburn University: For the first time in program history, Auburn University has been selected as the number one ranked team in the ACA Pre-Season Poll. The Auburn University Bass Fishing Team is coming off of back-to-back runner-up finishes in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia.
“I truly believe that Auburn is comprised of the nation’s most talented and brightest collegiate anglers,” said Carson Maddux, Auburn University Bass Fishing Team. “Competition within the team is at an all-time high which has translated to success across the nation.”
As Auburn embarks on its quest to win the school’s first-ever title, the team is off to a good start to the new season. Team members Hayden Marbut & Tucker Smith recently won the Bassmaster College Series National Championship at Pickwick Lake. That victory will earn the team very valuable points to start the new year.
“The 2023-24 season goal is simple, win. You can never guarantee a ‘win’ but you can take all the steps necessary to give yourself the best opportunity to do so,” said Maddux. “Being the bridesmaid two years in a row is about as much motivation as a team can get to bring the trophy home next year.”
2.University of Montevallo: Checking in at the second spot in the rankings is three-time title winner the University of Montevallo. Last season, Montevallo achieved collegiate bass fishing history by becoming the first team to ever win the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia three times.
“I think this year’s title ranks higher than the other two to me just because three in a row has never been done before. It’s one of the highest honors you can achieve in college fishing, so it ranks pretty highly in my book,” explained Tyler Cory, University of Montevallo angler.
The University of Montevallo put together a historic season throughout the 2022-23 campaign. Over the course of the 12-month season, Montevallo accrued many valuable victories and top finishes that had them ending the year in first place with a more than 3,500-point lead over the next closest team.
Coach Crawford credits the team’s support system for helping to contribute to their success year after year. “We have great support from our administration, faculty and staff. They help in so many ways that allow us to be successful,” said William Crawford, Head Coach at the University of Montevallo. “All of our supporters, sponsors and parents are GREAT! I feel that we have the best support group and are there to help whenever they are called upon. It takes a village to make any program a success and we are fortunate to have all the correct pieces in place to make things happen.”
3.Adrian College: Adrian College has finished in the Top 5 for the year-end rankings of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia for five-straight years. The team from Michigan finished the 2022-23 season in 4th place. To begin the 2023-24 campaign, Adrian College has been selected as the third ranked team in the ACA Pre-Season Poll.
“Being in the Top 5 pre-season poll means a lot to us, because it shows that our hard work is noticed,” said Owen Januszewski, Adrian College angler. “We are consistently in the Top 5 which is an accomplishment to itself, with how things change at the collegiate level with seniors graduating and freshman coming in.”
Adrian College anglers closed last season on a strong note, by earning a significant amount of points at each of the two major National Championship events during the spring semester. Adrian College earned 3,520 points at the MLF College Championship, and 5,565 points at the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops.
Early next week, the ACA will release the first points update of the season for the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Adrian College has competed in two major points earning events this summer; MLF at Lake Champlain, and the Bassmaster College Series Championship at Pickwick Lake. At the MLF College Series event on Lake Champlain, Adrian College had two teams finish in the Top 5. Russel Buffa & Kobe Thompson finished in third, and Braylon Eggerding & Lucas Washburn took fifth. Adrian College’s top two boats at the Bassmaster College Series Championship placed in 62nd and 73rd. Those two events combined will net Adrian College over 3,000 points, which should have them inside of the Top 10 in the first rankings of the year to be released next week.
“Our goal this season is to get into that Top 3 at the end of the season, as we’ve been on the bubble lately,” concluded Januszewski.
4.Carson-Newman University: In 2022-23, Carson-Newman University finished the year with its highest-ever finish in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia (3rd place).
“Our team’s program-best 3rd place finish in the SOY race is a reflection of the hard work our anglers put in over the course of a year,” said Hunter Sales, Head Coach of the Carson-Newman University Bass Fishing Team. “This is well-deserved recognition of the elite preparation, teamwork, and performance that our anglers have demonstrated this season.”
To start the 2023-24 season, Carson-Newman has been selected as the fourth ranked team in college fishing’s only all-encompassing National Rankings system. Carson-Newman made a huge surge at the last event of the season on Lake Hartwell, the triple points BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops. Carson-Newman teams finished 7th, 9th, and 12th to help the team move up two places to finish the year ranked third.
Following a program best finish in 2022-23, Carson-Newman is looking forward to this upcoming season. “Next year, as always, we are focused on maximizing our potential. We are bringing back nearly everyone at our core and supplementing that with some extremely talented freshmen,” added Sales. “If we can stay true to our pillars and each angler will trust the process to become the best version of themselves, next year could be very special.”
5.McKendree University: Rounding out the Top 5 for the ACA Pre-Season Poll is McKendree University. McKendree is a two-time winner of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia (2019,2020).
Since the 2018-19 season, McKendree University has finished every year in the Top 5 of the National Rankings.
2018-19: 1st Place
2019-20: 1st Place
2020-21: 2nd Place
2021-22: 3rd Place
2022-23: 5th Place
McKendree’s 2022-23 year-end ranking of 5th is the program’s lowest finish since the 2017-18 campaign.
“Anytime you can finish in the Top 5 at this level, you’ve had a great season,” said Jon Rinderer, Head Coach at McKendree University. “Obviously, we always shoot for the number one spot, but this is bass fishing and being consistent means everything.”
McKendree University, the University of North Alabama, and the University of Montevallo are the only three teams to have won the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia multiple times. While Montevallo leads the pack with three total titles, McKendree and UNA have each captured two titles. Entering the 2023-24 season, McKendree has an opportunity to join Montevallo in the record books with another victory. “For the 2023-24 season we will again set our sights on that number spot. Our goal is to travel to as many great lakes as we can in hopes of getting some absolutely incredible experiences all across this beautiful country,” concluded Rinderer.