GVSU bass anglers fail to qualify for nationals

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Bass Anglers

GVSU Bass Anglers

GVL / Courtesy – GVSU Bass Anglers

Brendan McMahon

The Grand Valley State bass anglers club is running out of chances to qualify for Nationals after it had subpar performances in tournaments on May 26-28 and June 2-4.

The Lakers competed in the Michigan College Bass Circuit on Houghton Lake in Michigan, May 26-28. The Lakers brought about half of their members to compete in the tournament. This tournament consists of several universities from around the Midwest, including the University of Michigan.

Team member Jacob Hellwick placed third individually in the tournament and was the only Laker to rank in the tournament leaderboard. In fact, the Lakers did not place inside the top 15 as a team, which came as a surprise to most team members.

“Its been a really tough year,” club president Justin Pruno said.

This particular Michigan College Bass Circuit has no implications on the Lakers chances of making it to nationals, but the poor performance carried over into the Midwest regional.

The Lakers then drove down to Illinois to compete in the Bass Master Midwest Regional Tournament on Quentin Lake, June 2-4. Only team members Justin Pruno and Brody Anderson competed in this tournament, which had pivotal implications on qualifying for Nationals.

The Lakers hopes for placing in this tournament vanished after day one when they caught just one fish. The Lakers found themselves ranked 73 out of 93 teams in the tournament.

“Today definitely didn’t go as we planned,” said senior team member Brody Anderson. “Practice went well the day before but everything changed over night.”

In the practice round Anderson and Pruno managed to catch plenty of the fish that were required for the tournament, but they did not have the same fortune when the tournament began.

In day two of the tournament, the Lakers found little improvement and remained ranked in the bottom half of the teams competing. The Midwest region does not lack competition, as the Lakers competed against powerful teams such as Kansas State, Auburn, Texas, Louisiana Monroe, among others.

Anderson and Pruno funded their own trip to Illinois paying for everything from food and gas to their hotel room. Compared to large southern universities that receive university funding for bass angling, the Lakers are at a severe disadvantage in these tournaments.

“The school (GVSU) doesn’t really help us that much because we are a club sport,” Anderson said.

The club is having a down year compared to years past. In June of 2015, the club was ranked No. 1 according to bassrankings.com and was well on its way to Nationals.

The Lakers are not to be found in the Bass Master Rankings at this point in 2016.

“The team is in a rebuilding phase,” Pruno said. “We have lots of guys who have potential that are just gaining experience this year.”

The Bass Anglers Club consists of about 15 members, most of them underclassmen who have not seen action in national qualifying tournaments. The Lakers still have plenty of events this season that various members of the team can compete in.

Nationals may be out of the equation this season for the Lakers, but they are still looking to finish the season strong and build for next year. The Lakers next tournament is at Sanford Lake on June 18.