TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Consistency was the theme over three days for Garrett Enders and Cody Huff.
The Bethel University duo claimed the school’s first national title Saturday on the final day of the Carhartt Bassmasters College Series National Championship at Lake Tenkiller.
“It’s pretty awesome, and it’s everything we’ve worked for,” Enders said moments after hoisting the trophy onstage at Beta Field. “You work to get to this point, you fish all of these tournaments. It’s crazy.”
Bethel, located in McKenzie, Tennessee, has routinely knocked on the door for a Bassmaster national title and has consistently placed teams in the top five. In 2017, the Wildcats had three teams close fifth or better, including the runner-up team of Cole Floyd and Carter McNeil.
Enders and Huff ended fifth on the leaderboard as sophomores at the 2017 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship at Bemidji Chain of Lakes in Bemidji, Minnesota.
“It’s awesome,” Huff said. “It’s what we’ve dreamed of since we were little kids. ... We’ve always got several teams in the top 10 wherever we go. We’re just glad to get over that hump and get a win.”
“This is a dream come true for us,” Bethel coach Garry Mason said. “We’ve had multiple wins in almost every tournament trail in college fishing, but this is the best I can think of. This is the big of the biggies, and to be standing right here holding this trophy right now with my assistant coach (Kenny Louden), it just doesn’t get any better than this.”
Enders and Huff, who entered the championship round after bagging the five-fish limit on both Thursday and Friday with a total weight of 32 pounds, 4 ounces, caught three fish Saturday at 9-2.
They led throughout the tournament and were one of 10 teams representing Bethel.
On day one, Enders and Huff led with a weight of 16-10. They followed that with a 15-10 on Friday.
They stuck with their gameplan over the three days of sweltering heat. All of their catches came on either a Strike King flutter spoon or Jewel jigging spoon, and came at what was their favorite spot, Barnacle Bill’s Marina.
“We did the same exact thing today,” Enders said. “We stayed in an area (Barnacle Bill’s) all day long. That’s where we found all of our fish. We tried to explore on some places on day one and day two where we found some stuff during practice, but we couldn’t catch anything during the tournament.”
Saturday’s total proved to be just enough after a major scare from Campbellsville’s Bradley Dunagan and Nick Ratliff.
Dunagan and Ratliff brought in the biggest bag of the week, reeling in a weight of 18-2 on Saturday to climb from fifth to second on the leaderboard. They finished at just under two pounds back at 39-7. Their big catch was a 6-pounder.
“It was an amazing day,” Dunagan said. “We had some ups and downs. This morning started out pretty rough and we lost some good fish, but we went on a good streak where everything just went right. We tried some new water, not new, but saved it for today. It was our day.”
“Today we went hunting for them,” Ratliff said. “We put spoons in all kinds of goofy places and we had to drag fish out of a lot of it.”
Enders and Huff join Dunagan and Ratliff, along with Nolan Minor and Casey Lanier (West Virginia), and Auburn’s Cole Burdeshaw and Peyton McCord as part of the top four teams that will advance to the 2018 Carhartt College Bracket, set for Aug. 14-16 on Milford Lake in Junction City, Kansas.
Minor and Lanier finished third in the standings at 32 pounds, 13 ounces, while Burdeshaw and McCord followed in fourth at 31-2.
Fish / Weight
Fish / Weight
Fish / Weight
Fish / Weight
|1||Garrett Enders - Cody Huff||Bethel University||5 / 16-10||5 / 15-10||3 / 9- 2||13 / 41- 6|
|2||Bradley Dunagan - Nick Ratliff||Campbellsville University||5 / 14- 7||3 / 6-14||5 / 18- 2||13 / 39- 7|
|3||Nolan Minor - Casey Lanier||West Virginia University||2 / 6- 4||4 / 11- 5||5 / 15- 4||11 / 32-13|
|4||Cole Burdeshaw - Peyton McCord||Auburn University||3 / 11- 2||5 / 15- 0||2 / 5- 0||10 / 31- 2|
|5||Ty Cox - Alden Keel Jr||Blue Mountain College||5 / 14-12||2 / 6- 7||3 / 7- 5||10 / 28- 8|
|6||Thor Swanson - Mitch Swanson||Bemidji State University||4 / 9-15||5 / 11-13||3 / 6- 9||12 / 28- 5|
|7||Lucas Murphy - Nolan Hitt||Grand Valley State University||5 / 12- 7||4 / 13- 3||1 / 2- 1||10 / 27-11|
|8||Dustin Nash - Gregory Green||Northwestern State University||3 / 7- 9||5 / 13- 5||2 / 4- 2||10 / 25- 0|
|9||Dillon Harrell - Colby Bryant||Sam Houston State University||5 / 15-14||2 / 4- 6||1 / 2- 5||8 / 22- 9|
|10||Tanner Ward||Kent State University||2 / 4- 7||5 / 12- 2||2 / 3-10||9 / 20- 3|
|11||Hunter Louden - Seth Roberts||Bethel University||4 / 15-12||1 / 1-10||1 / 2- 8||6 / 19-14|
|12||Thad Simerly - Ethan Shaw||Bryan College||2 / 4- 8||5 / 12- 3||-||7 / 16-11|