None of the Kansas high school fishing teams were able to make it to the final day of competition Oct. 24 at the 2019-20 Bassmaster High School National Championship on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn.
But Ottawa’s Austin Curtis and Todd Crosley put a solid ending to their first year fishing on a high school team as members of the new OutCast Bass Club, finishing 30th overall with a weight of 13-6 to lead the Kansas delegation.
Curtis and Crosley, who were boat captained by club sponsor and Louisburg native Brock Bila, made the jump into the top 30 after sitting in 158th after the first day.
"Our first season went pretty good," Curtis said. "We couldn’t find them the first day of nationals, but on the second day we found them. We caught them right before a big rain on a crankbait.
"Todd, Brock and I are looking forward to our sophomore season and working our hardest to represent Kansas again at nationals."
Kickback Club’s Werner Brundige and Ty Neidlein finished second among Kansans and 84th overall with a bag of 7-10 in the field of 247 teams from 30 states, followed by Buhler’s Nathan Fideldy and Preston Gover (tie-163rd, 2-9) and De Soto’s Dylan Nimrod and Collin Stephens (t-183rd, 2-1). Brundige and Neidlein dropped 27 spots from their Day 1 position of 57th on Day 2.
Tucker Smith and Hayden Marbut, of Briarwood Christian in Birmingham, Ala., gave their school a three-peat of national titles with a three-day total of 47 pounds, 5 ounces, for the victory. Smith has been a member of all three national title victories, while it was the first for Marbut. They also posted the big fish of the tournament at 7-5.
The college anglers are now set to compete in their national championship event this weekend on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Fla. The state of Kansas will be represented by Kansas State anglers Zach Vielhauer, a senior, and junior Michael Mueting, the 2019-20 Kansas BASS Nation College state champions.
"Michael and I are very excited for another shot at a national championship," said Vielhauer, a Shawnee Mission Northwest product. "The Harris Chain is well known for producing big fish, and neither Michael nor I have ever fished in Florida. There’s definitely going to be a learning curve, but we can’t wait to figure it out. It’s about time Kansas State gets another title!"