April 1, 2016 – As the sport of competitive bass fishing has exploded in popularity, the young Bryan College Lions Fishing program has managed to stay at the forefront of top collegiate fishing programs in the nation. In their first season, the Lions earned a remarkable 18th place finish in the running for Cabela’s School of the Year. This year (their second year) the Lions have steadily worked their way up as a challenger for the Cabela’s School of the Year race, but the difference maker has come in the month of March when Bryan jumped from the 6th spot to the 2nd ranked team in the nation after impressive performances in the Cabela’s Big Bass Bash on Kentucky Lake in Paris Landing, Tenn. and the recent Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Open (Dardanelle Derby) on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Ark.
Head Bryan Fishing Coach, Mike Keen, has explained that the Lions have been fishing three of the most popular trails possible because of the exposure they provide and the opportunity to present Bryan College on a major stage (Cabela’s, FLW, and B.A.S.S). The 334 schools that are in the Association of Collegiate Anglers are from all across the country, stretching as far west as California. The small Christian Liberal Arts College tucked away in Dayton, Tenn. is facing off against some of the largest colleges and universities in the country. SEC powerhouse, University of Alabama (1,282), leads Bryan (1,263) by 19 points. Mississippi State (1,261) rounds out the top-3.
The School of the Year competition reflects consistency throughout the entire season, and that is what Coach Keen has his team striving to do with teamwork acting as the driving force.
There are 14 anglers on the Bryan roster, including two Rhea County High School graduates, Dylan Pritchett, and Jalen Smith.
“I’m very proud of these guys, because of the continuous hard work they have put forth,” said Keen. “The results reflect the hard work they have given since it’s them doing all the fishing… I haven’t caught a fish in any of these tournaments.”
When asked about the playing field and some of the intimidating schools they go head-to-head with, Keen explained, “They may have fancier boats and trucks, but when we cast out in the water, the fish have no idea who’s on the other end of the line.”
Keen mentioned another key to success was, “The way our school and athletic program treats our fishing team just like any other team makes it a whole lot easier to go out and compete. Not only am I really proud of our guys, but I’m really proud of our school.”
The timing looks to play in Bryan’s favor as they have one more obstacle in the FLW College Open (Apr. 1-2) on Kentucky Lake where several top teams will be on their home turf, but then the Lions head to Guntersville Lake in Guntersville, Ala. for the FLW S.E. Conf. (May 21) where the tables are turned and Bryan has home-field advantage.
Follow the Bryan Anglers and their chase for the Cabela’s School of the Year title by visiting bryanlions.com/fishing, liking their Facebook page – Bryan College Fishing Team, follow on Twitter @BryanAnglers, and follow on Instagram @bryanbassteam.
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Written by Wesley Sanders ’15, Sports Information Director
Edited by Britney M. Wyatt, Director of Marketing