Four Marshall County High School students will be part of Kentucky sports history as the first state bass fishing tournament is conducted on Kentucky Lake Friday and Saturday.
Forty-five teams of two high school anglers will take off Friday morning from Kenlake State Resort Park Marina for the first of two days of fishing, which will culminate in the naming of the first state champion team.
“I can only speak of what I’ve seen in Region 1 tournament competition, but the excitement for high school fishing has been extraordinary here,” said Marshall County’s first bass fishing coach, Luke Anderson.
“This week’s state tournament is a huge event in the history of high school sports in the state and in Marshall County,” Anderson said, “and we’re very proud to be able to represent our county in this inaugural tournament right here at home on Kentucky Lake.”
Calloway County coach Jo Robertson noted that Kentucky is only the second state to officially recognize bass fishing as a varsity sport. Illinois is the other state.
“It is important for us in western Kentucky to be able to host a KHSAA state event, and what better place than Kentucky Lake?” Robertson said. “Athlete anglers from all over the commonwealth will be competing on one of the most beautiful venues in the entire state. How many other high school sports participants can say that they have such an opportunity?”
It is, indeed, a special thing, according to Marshall County senior Logan Thomas.
“It really is,” Thomas said. “It’s the first state championship. It’s a huge opportunity for us and our school to be able to compete in it. To win it would just be icing on the cake.”
There have, of course, been “state” tournaments – one, in fact, just a little more than seven weeks ago on Kentucky Lake, the Murray State Open and State Championship for high school anglers who are members of the Student Angler Federation.
But this will be the first one conducted by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, which last year added bass fishing to its roster of sport-activities.
That means something to Thomas, who has fished for several years in semi-pro tourneys in FLW’s Wal-Mart-sponsored Bass Fishing League. He is presently ranked 22nd in the Music City Division, most recently competing in Saturday’s event at Center Hill Lake in Sparta, Tenn.
Thomas and his parents, Jeff and Nicole Thomas, were instrumental in forming a bass fishing club at the high school three years ago as part of their efforts to help their son pursue his interest in competitive fishing.
They were a part of the effort to get the KHSAA to add fishing, elevating the sport above the club level.
Four region tournaments were held the first two weekends in April to determine the field for this weekend’s state tourney. A full complement of 14 teams will represent regions 1 and 3. There are 13 teams from Region 2 and four teams from Region 4.
Trevor Salyers and Cody Jackson of Calloway County are the Region 1 champions. They lead a 14-team contingent of region teams qualifying for the inaugural state tourney.
Mason Shelton and Austin Greene of Trigg County were second in the region tourney April 13, followed by James Gibbs and Aidan Cox of Marshall County in third.
Thomas will fish with partner Nate Jones. The two finished 10th in the region tourney April 13.
Tyler Martin and Hannah Johnson of Lyon County were fourth and Jacob Bowles and James Hampton of Muhlenberg County rounded out the top five.
Muhlenberg had four two-man teams qualify for the state tourney. Trigg County had three teams qualify. Lyon, Calloway and Marshall each had two teams make the cut, and Warren East had one pair of anglers advance.
Luke Miller and David Ryan Brewer of Louisville St. Xavier are the Region 2 champs. Daniel Lawson and Travis Hunt of Taylor County won the Region 3 title. Donavan Ferguson and Keegan Clevinger led a 1-2 sweep by Johnson Central of Paintsville in Region 4.
Anglers will gather at the CFSB Center on the Murray State University campus for a pre-tournament meeting Thursday. Take-off Friday and Saturday morning will be at 7 a.m., with weigh-ins at 3 p.m. each day at the marina.