By STEVE CORNELIUS, CJ Sports Editor
In only their first year in competition, the Southwestern High School bass fishing team wasted little time to show their dominance in the newly recognized KHSAA sport.
In Sunday’s Region 3 Bass Fishing Championships at Conley Bottom Resort, Southwestern High School junior Corey Frye and senior Andrew Ford claimed the regional title with a winning weight of 15 ponds, 8 ounces for the five fish they caught. Their nearest competitor’s catch weighed in at 14 lb., 12 oz.
Southwestern seniors Colton Smith and Brenton Clemons placed fifth in the region with a 5-fish total weight of 11 pounds, 1 ounce.
The top two Southwestern angler duos qualified for the KHSAA State Tournament to be held at Kentucky Dam Marina on April 25-26.
Pulaski County High School’s Justin Mayfield and Logan Howell finished 14th and will also competed in the KHSAA State Championships. The Pulaski duo had a 2-fish weigh-in of 6 pounds, 9 ounces.
A total of 65 teams competed in the Region 3 Tournament, which was 45 more teams than competed in the inaugural 2013 Region 3 Championships last spring.
Without a doubt, the newfound KHSAA sport is catching on and the Warriors seem to be at the top of the heap.
“All my guys love bass fishing and competing against all these other high schools,” Southwestern fishing coach Barry Strunk stated. “My kids know at this time of year these bass have one thing on their mind right now, and that is spawning. They know you have to key on pre-spawn areas, which they did and that’s why they were able to succeed and advance to the state championship.”
The Warriors team is led by their senior captain Colton Smith. Other Warrior team members are Brenton Clemons (senior co-captain), Andrew Ford (senior), Ben Hughes (sophomore), Hunter Sumpter (freshman), Eli Cook (freshman) and Corey Frye (junior).
“They all competed in the regional and put out great effort,” Strunk stated. “Some of them came up a little short of the top 14, but there time will come. These kids are really great fisherman and the future is bright for all these kids and the program. I want to thank the boat captains for their support and a huge thanks to all the parents who let myself and my assistant Josh Brake to work with these kids.”
Southwestern’s Ben Hughes finished 22nd with a 3-fish total of 4 pounds, 6 ounces. Southwestern’s Eli Cook and Hunter Sumpter tied for 33rd with a one-fish catch of 2 pounds, 1 ounce.
“Our season is really short, and with the long strung out winter we had, it was hard to get out and practice,” Strunk explained. “We did fish a couple open high school events and had great finishes in each one. We have access to a little private lake here in Pulaski county and we had a practice session there.”
“Mainly, we have meetings after school in the library and try to talk about our strategies and break down our lakes and focus what presentations will work the best for this time of year,” Strunk continued. “So, now we have two teams qualified for the state championship on Kentucky Lake and we will be preparing these kids (Colton Smith, Brenton Clemons, Andrew Ford, and Corey Frye) for the KHSAA State Championship. We will have our work cut out, but these kids will be ready for the challenge.”