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Fishing for success

The Campbellsville University Bass Fishing team is ranked No. 4 in the country, headed to nationals
Andrew Swift
Logan Evans (left) and Ryan Lachniet (right) show off their biggest bass of the day during the Tigers’ win at the Kentucky Bass Nation State Championship recently, which sealed their ticket to nationals in May.

The Campbellsville University Bass Fishing team has flown under the radar of many, but don’t think for a second that a small-town team can’t win big. The Tigers guarantee their shot at the national tournament with their latest victory at the Kentucky Bass Nation State Championship at Green River Lake in Campbellsville.

“There aren’t a lot of people who really pay attention to bass fishing,” said Head Coach Tony Miracle. “It’s not like your other traditional sports like football and basketball. You can’t really sell tickets to a bass fishing tournament especially since we aren’t a sanctioned sport in the NAIA or NCAA.”

The bass fishing team has been a part of CU since 2014. During that time, they have acquired more than 20 top five finishes and more than 30 top 10 finishes. The Tigers have always been a force to be reckoned with since the beginning of their program and have climbed the rankings more and more since Coach Miracle was hired to lead the team.

Miracle said earlier in the season, senior Ryan Lachniet and his partner Carter Doren placed second at a tournament in Florida and only lost by one ounce. Lachniet, who is graduating in May, has enjoyed his time at CU with the team.

“It has been an absolute blast being here,” Lachniet said. “I have gotten to travel all over the country to fish, which has been great. My teammates and I are all super close. We all hang out every day. Now we all just want to keep climbing the rankings and hopefully get the team of the year award.”

Caleb Cason stands by as he watches his partner, Evan Waggener, hand over their best catches of the day to be weighed in during the Kentucky Bass Nation State Championship recently at Green River Lake. (Andrew Swift)

While the season has been quite the journey for the team, there is one person who sticks with them without fishing at all. Senior Luke Mullis is the official social media manager for the Tiger fishing team and has accompanied them at every tournament.

“Well, I started out here as a swimmer,” said Mullis. “I wanted to take a break from swimming and so I just became the swim team’s media manager. Then, all of a sudden, Tony (Miracle) called me and asked if I wanted to do that for the fishing team. It has been about a year now since, and it has been fun. I fished a little growing up, but I never knew anything about tournament fishing. It has been interesting, but all the guys are really cool and have welcomed me with open arms. I thoroughly enjoy it.”

Mullis plans to graduate this coming December, and he plans to continue this job through the fall semester.

At a tournament, the fishermen are divided into 10 pairs of two, and who places where is decided by the weight of the fish they caught. Each pair of players is only allowed to bring in five total fish. Throughout a whole day of fishing, the fishermen decide which fish they think are worth keeping for the weigh-in. At the weigh-in, the biggest fish is weighed on its own first, and then all the fish are weighed together. The two pairs who have accrued the most weight get the points for their team. How many points you earn throughout the season determines where you sit in the national rankings. The team that ends up in the No.1 spot wins team of the year.

With the season coming to a close, the drive of the Tiger fishing team will have to be in full force to power their way up the rankings. The Tigers will fish in the national championship at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Alabama on May 23-24.

After a long day of fishing and a satisfying weigh-in, Merrick Diaz (left) and Jeffery Hayford (right) carry their catches back to Green River Lake with the company of friends and family. This is the last time they will release their bass in a tournament until nationals in Florence, Alabama on May 23–24. (Andrew Swift)
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About the Contributor
Andrew Swift

Andrew Swift is a senior at Campbellsville University. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Swift plans on pursuing a career in the world of audio-visual services.

Swift was originally planning on playing basketball throughout college, but different circumstances led him to start bowling. He’s a member of the CU bowling team, and says it’s the greatest thing to happen to him.

In addition to bowling, Swift also enjoys playing basketball, guitar and spending time with his friends and girlfriend.

Swift hopes to work in a big venue working lights and sound for concerts after he graduates.

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