The Northwestern High School bass fishing team made a big splash in its inaugural season in Northern Minnesota’s Great North Conference.
The Tigers’ club team, which finished among the top 10 in all three conference meets, will be sending three two-person teams to the 2019 Minnesota State Junior Bass Nation Tournament of Champions Aug. 24-25 on Lake Le Homme Dieu in Alexandria, Minn.
Leading the way for the Tigers are junior Harrison Nelson and senior Bryson Mazur, who finished in first place overall in the Great North Conference with 294 points in the three conference meets.
Nelson finished in third place in the opening tournament on Island Lake near Duluth on June 9; fourth on Lake Minnewawa on July 7; and second on Lake Vermilion on July 21.
They finished one point ahead of Grand Rapids' Easton Fothergill and Josh Dumke, and five points ahead of North Woods' Matt Clines and Jake Panichi.
Fothergill and Dumke are the defending state champs and finished in eighth place out of 150 teams in the national tournament earlier this year on Kentucky Lake in Benton, Ky.
Also advancing to state for the Tigers will be the teams of Benjamin Benes and Bennett Nelson and Josh Walsh and Nolan Gustafson.
Benes and Nelson finished in fourth place overall with 281 points. The two got off to a good start with a first-place finish on Island Lake where they tallied five fish that weighed 16.25 pounds — a hefty 3.25-pound average.
Walsh and Gustafson finished eighth overall with 271 points.
Rounding out Northwestern’s team this season were Carter Montavon and Logan Pulju, 12th place; Jordan Hermann and Bryce Tonn, 14th; David Horst and Matthew Scott, 22nd; and Jack Cockerham and Dylan Peterson, 29th.
“We’re hoping to make a trip to Alexandria to learn a thing or two about the lake,” said Greg Nelson, a Northwestern teacher and the fishing club’s adviser. “This is our first time competing at something like this, so we’re just going to enjoy our experience and see what happens.”
The champion and runner-up from the Minnesota Junior BASS Nation High School State Tournament will automatically qualify for the 2020 Bass High School National Championship in the spring.
NOTES: Nelson signed on to lead the effort when his two sons, Harrison and Bennett, wanted to try competitive fishing. Each of the 14 active members paid the $50 membership fee that got them into regional tournaments, a Bass Angler Sportsman Society membership and liability insurance. … For more information on high school bass fishing in the Duluth-Superior area, contact Doug Pirila of the Duluth Bass Club at firstname.lastname@example.org.