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The Top 5 Teams in the Final Rankings for the 2022-23 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia

SAN ANTONIO, TX – The 2022-23 season for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu was a historic one. College fishing’s only all-encompassing National Rankings system saw hundreds of college bass fishing teams from across the country compete in an epic number of points qualifying tournaments as the ACA awarded the most points ever in a single season this year.

At the start of the season, many teams just want to finish the year ranked in the Top 25 of best college fishing teams in the nation.  Other schools strive to be in the Top 10 with a shot to win School of the Year at the end of the season.  To accomplish that, teams must fish in a variety of conditions on a mix of lakes all season long.  No team did that better during the 2022-23 season than the University of Montevallo.

In winning the most coveted title in college fishing, the University of Montevallo added to the historical significance of this season by being the first school ever to win three School of the Year titles. Not only did Montevallo have a great season, so too did the teams right on their heels in the Top 5. In this fifth and final feature article, we will take a look at the highlights this past season for teams ranked 1-5 in the final standings for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia.

1.University of Montevallo (Montevallo, AL)

Total points: 48,825

During the 2022-23 season, the University of Montevallo achieved college bass fishing history by winning the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia for a third time. Not only did they secure their third title, they did so in three-straight seasons. Montevallo jumps ahead of McKendree University and the University of North Alabama (each have two titles) in the record books to achieve a milestone that no other school had yet to accomplish.

“It’s been a great feeling knowing that our program has made history. It has been a team goal for us the last two years to win three titles in a row,” said William Crawford, Head Coach at the University of Montevallo. “We are just trying to enjoy this accomplishment because it’s not every day you get to win a Championship, much less three.”

Top ranked University of Montevallo finished the season in first place with a season total of 48, 825 points. That season points total bested the next closest competitor, Auburn University, by more than 3,700 points. Montevallo’s end of season points total is the highest of any team ever in the history of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia.

Here is a brief summary of Montevallo anglers’ top performances at School of the Year points qualifying events during the 2022-23 season. The University of Montevallo Bass Fishing Team had a boat finish in 1st place seven times this season. The top ranked team in the nation also had 37 Top 5 finishes.  In addition to 71 Top 10’s, Montevallo anglers achieved a whopping 150 Top 20 finishes. That’s an awe-inspiring amount of top finishes when you look at all of the different bodies of water the team fished during the season.

“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. “It does feel a little different because it is a team accomplishment, but when we win, we win as a team and when we lose, we lose as a team, so not much difference.”

The University of Montevallo competed in all four ACA major, nationally televised, no-entry-fee events throughout the 2022-23 season on the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series. Montevallo earned a total of 16,860 points at ACA ran events and earned the most points of any one team competing in two out of the four ACA major events this past season.

2.Auburn University (Auburn, AL)

Total points: 45,050

For the second straight year, Auburn University finishes 2nd in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Auburn earned a season total of 45,050 points. The team’s season points total bests their nearest competitor by more than 3,500 points.

“Finishing in the Top 5 of the SOY is always a tremendous accomplishment for any program. Auburn has become synonymous with success in the collegiate fishing ranks and that is because of our amazing support system,” said Carson Maddux, President of the Auburn University Bass Club. “Our sponsors invest a great deal into the team, which makes it easy to focus on the fishing when at these events.”

Focus on the fishing is exactly what Auburn did at a very high level this season. Competing in a total of 26 points qualifying tournaments throughout the 2022-23 season, Auburn anglers racked up countless Top 20’s, Top 10’s, and numerous victories. Whether competing in major national events, more regional tournaments, or even local School-Run/Other Sanctioned events, Auburn brought their A game each and every week out on the college trail. This is a testament to the quality of anglers that comprise this angler ran club.

“I truly believe that Auburn is comprised of the nation’s most talented and brightest collegiate anglers. Without having a coach, it is up to the students to not only hone their fishing skills, but also become fluent with understanding the strategy that goes into winning a National Title,” added Maddux. “Competition within the team is at an all-time high which has translated to success across the nation.”

Though Auburn was not able to seal the deal and win its first-ever title as Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia this season, team members Tucker Smith & Hayden Marbut won another prestigious title awarded by the ACA this season, a National Championship. Smith & Marbut won college fishing’s longest-running National Championship event, the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops. That victory earned them 2,500 points, as well as $5,000 cash. Combined with other contingency bonuses, all total, the pair could earn over $14,000.

3.Carson-Newman University (Jefferson City, TN)

Total points: 41,840

“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.”

Finishing the year in 3rd place is Carson-Newman University. The team from Jefferson City, TN earned a season total of 41,840 points to edge out two-time title winner McKendree University by just over 700 points and land in the coveted Top 3. This 3rd place finish during the 2022-23 season is Carson-Newman’s highest ever end of season ranking.

“The team has evolved over the past few seasons from a group of talented underclassmen into a team of disciplined anglers sharing a common goal,” continued Sales. “Our Seniors have done a good job reinforcing expectations and holding each other accountable. When you mix high levels of talent with discipline and teamwork, good things happen!”

Carson-Newman earned points at a total of 28 events last season. Throughout that run, the team racked up four victories, 19 Top 5 finishes, 36 Top 10’s, and 60 Top 20’s. All of those elite finishes had Carson-Newman within striking distance of cracking the Top 3 entering the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops.

Carson-Newman made a huge charge at Lake Hartwell for the ACA National Championship to secure its highest-ever end of season ranking. As a team, Carson-Newman earned 7,100 points at the final event of the season. This was the second most points earned by any one team that week behind 8th ranked Emmanuel College who earned 7,260. Here is a look at Carson-Newman’s three highest-placing teams at the triple points event:

2nd Place: Drake Hemby & Ewing Minor

9th Place: Carson Palmer & Carter Koza

12th Place: Caz Anderson & Will Harris

4.Adrian College (Adrian, MI)

Total points: 41,115

The next team to be featured in this rankings review is Adrian College. Located in Adrian, MI, Adrian College is a team that has become accustomed to finishing the year inside of the Top 5 for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. The 2022-23 campaign marks the fifth straight season in which Adrian College has been ranked inside of the Top 5 at year’s end.

Adrian College got off to a hot start for the 2022-23 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. The early portion of the schedule featured a host of events across the northeast. This included three major double points events, as well as multiple regional tournaments that awarded a maximum of 100 points to first place. As the schedule began to pick up in the fall, Adrian College held a commanding lead over the rest of the field.

The team from Michigan competed in each of the ACA’s two major, no-entry-fee, nationally televised, double points events. Adrian College earned 3,000 points at the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley. This proved to be the second most points earned by any of the teams that finished the year inside of the Top 4. One month later, Adrian College competed in the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open at Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, AR. The team only managed to earn 2,580 points at the ACA double points tournament. That point total was the lowest out of the five teams to finish the year ranked in the Top 5.

In years past, Adrian College typically sees a steep decline in their performance and points earned as the season progresses. However, this year, Adrian College held its own amongst the nation’s best teams at fisheries located miles and miles away from home. From January 1, 2023 through the end of the season, Adrian College earned a total of 22,995 points. Over the course of the final five months of the season, Adrian accumulated more than half of its points.

The team’s charge was bolstered by strong showings at two major Championship events throughout the spring. 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. Adrian College’s success across the country this spring should bode well for them going forward.

5.McKendree University (Lebanon, IL)

Total points: 40,650

Rounding out the Top 5 for the 2022-23 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia is two-time title winner McKendree University. McKendree earned a total of 40,650 points across national, regional, and local tournaments. The team from Lebanon, IL was just one of only five schools to earn over 40,000 points this past season.

McKendree etched its name into the college fishing history books back in 2020. On the shores of Pickwick Lake at McFarland Park in Florence, AL, McKendree claimed its second straight School of the Year title during the 2019-20 season. At the time, that made them just the second team ever, along with the University of North Alabama, to finish the season ranked number one on two separate occasions.

Head Coach Jon Rinderer has built a powerhouse college fishing team from the state of Illinois. Though Illinois may not be widely regarded as one of the best bass fishing segments of this country, McKendree anglers travel nationwide finding a great deal of success at each stop from Florida, to Arkansas, even all the way up to Michigan. 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.

Like each of the other four teams in the Top 5, McKendree University competed in all four ACA major, nationally televised, no-entry-fee events. Across those four events combined, McKendree earned a total of 14,455 points. The team’s best showing came at the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley on Kentucky Lake in Henry County and Paris, TN. McKendree earned the most points of any one school competing in the tournament, 3,460. Team members Harper Burkeen (2nd) and Ethan Fields (4th) combined for two Top 5 finishes and a great start to the year.

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