Ontario Team Wins 2002 Bassmasters Junior
by Ray Kerchal
On July 13, 2002, fourteen teams participated in the
Bassmasters Junior National Championships on the Nanticoke River in
Delaware at Phillips Landing. Although this was the seventh consecutive
year that the tournament has been held, it was sanctioned by B.A.S.S. for
the first time. It was also the first time that the anglers were divided
into two age groups. Each six-person, state team was comprised of two or
less anglers, aged 16-18 and four or more, aged 11-15. Mike Wurm, a
five-time qualifier for the Bassmasters Classic, was the emcee at the
weigh-in and a guest at the Saturday evening awards banquet. This event
has become a family affair over the years. There were over 425 individuals
in attendance for the banquet including the 84 tournament anglers. The
Delaware BASS Federation did a magnificent job of organizing and running
the tournament and related events.
In the 11-15 age group, Ryan Smith of Kansas took the individual 1st place honors for a five bass limit with 9.01 lbs. Steve Hudson of Ontario was 2nd with 7.67 lbs and Chris Rizio of New Jersey was 3rd with 7.33 lbs. Branden Bergeron of Connecticut had the lunker fish weighing 3.48 lbs. In the 16-18 age group, Dustin Brandolino of Vermont took the individual 1st place honors for a five bass limit with 8.99 pounds. Tyler Owen of Missouri was 2nd with 5.58 lbs. Tyler also had the lunker fish weighing 4.20 lbs. In his own memorable fashion, Al Smith, the B.A.S.S. National Federation Director, presented Ryan Smith with a lifetime membership to B.A.S.S.
Due to the increasing number of federations entering this tournament, it will be difficult for one state to host the estimated 22 to 25 teams expected in 2003. Therefore, there will be three Team Invitationals held in three different locations during 2003: Virginia, New York and Minnesota. To preserve the individual national titles and in order to draw additional states into the program, the Missouri B.A.S.S. Federation will host the 2003 Bassmasters Junior National Championship on July 19th on Smithville Lake. This tournament will be for state champions from all North American federations in two age groups. The four tournaments will be sponsored be the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund and are open to any state with a B.A.S.S. Federation Junior Chapter Program.
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