Virginia Junior Bassmasters Invitational Tournament
A Junior Bassmasters Invitational is a tournament program designed to test the best of the best junior anglers from all states in a competitive format. The program is designed to resemble an adult BASS tournament circuit. States hold qualifying tournaments to select their teamsŪ•≠bers. Each team is made up of four anglers from the younger age group, 11 to 14, and two junior pros from the 15 to 17 age group. This gives the young anglers a feel for competition and allows them to compete with their peers. Virginia has stepped up to the plate with this tournament and has set up guidelines to find the best of the best in Virginia, using sportsmanship, stewardship and conservation as factors in team selection. I would like to present the Virginia State team consisting of Justin Carr as Team Captain, Josiah Donaldson, Brittany Beasley, Shawn Britton, Jesse Bums and Clayton Carriker. The alternates for the team were Dakota Jennings and Eric Britton. To show true stewardship and sportsmanship, we had an alternate who was willing to step down and allow another competitor to take his place, knowing this was his last year to compete, since he was turning eighteen at the end of the year. Thus we allowed a third alternate, William Seymour, to take Eric Britton's place as the alternate.
Eleven state teams participated, showing up in South Hill, Virginia, days prior to the tournament, which gave them the time to visit our great state. The event was held on a Friday, the 11th of July. A pre tournament meeting was held on Thursday evening at Best Western, in South Hill to give the young adults the experience of an adult tournament. We were able to give them the support of great sponsors from the state and national levels who stepped up to the plate, giving the contenders a sponsorsÁ•¨come. The contenders had the opportunity to meet the event sponsors and representative in person.
Following the sponsor greetings, we set up an official photo shoot for team pictures. This gave the teams the time to interact. After photos, we moved to the captains‚≤©efing. There was time for questions and concerns and then we went to the pairings dinner. We had the privilege of having some great speakers present: Stacy Twiggs from BASS, Walter Hairston from Ranger Boats and Lucky Craft, Tim Boyle from U.S. Coast Guard Aux, Lynette Tanner from Best Western and Bill Noland from the Buggs Island Striper Club. We also had the privilege of having Pete Gluszek speak to the contenders. After dinner, we proceeded to give out special gifts donated to Virginia BASS from local sponsors. This made for some great excitement for the anglers to find out who was going to receive a gold necklace and who would receive the boxes of Oreo cookies. The boat captains were hoping to get a box on their boat. We then moved into the pairing, calling contenders & captains in order to let them have time to meet one another prior to the tournament.
The blast off was at 6:30am on Friday, out of the North Bend launch site on Kerr Reservoir. Contenders looked forward to an experience of a lifetime on a great fishery. The weigh-in site was set up professionally to keep the event moving fast and to give the contenders the experience of an adult tournament. Proper handling of fish was demonstrated and the Virginia Game Department also supplied a fish transport tank to handle and release healthy fish. A striper tournament was also held for the alternates and family members while the teams where out fishing. They weighed in one hour prior to the bass tournament. All of the contenders came across the weigh-in stage, which made it exciting for the alternates. Roger Fitchett was the emcee for the event. He had a great time with the contenders, trying to find out where they caught the fish. I think he needs help on the water, but the contenders held fast and kept their information to themselves. They learn early.
We then moved to our evening event, located at a local collage. This site had ample room for everyone. The program started out with some words of encouragement from Stacy Twiggs from BASS and Walter Hairston from Ranger Boats and Lucky Craft. To show our deep appreciation to our Boat Captains, who took the time to travel with the team from as far as Vermont, Ohio and Canada, we gave out special awards, which can only be received under special circumstances, which I believe this is one. For without their commitment to the juniors and the Junior BASS program, we would not be where we are today, having the ability to give something back to our youth and community. We had all the captains called up on stage and give them a standing ovation. Take the time to thank your brother, father, mother, sister, grandparents, friends and mentors for without them taking the time years ago to take you fishing, where would you be without them. Give them a call and say thanks. I do every day.
The awards started out in an exciting atmosphere. We gave out the awards for the alternates first. Thanks to Bill Noland, from the Buggs Island Striper club, we had the ability to give them a separate striper tournament. First place went to Eric Persson (NJ) who caught a 5.64 pound striper. Second place went to Danny Hoag (OH) with a 5.34 pound fish and third place went to Ryan Doremus (DE) with a 3.80 pound striper. We then moved to the individual awards (in two age groups) for the Junior Bassmasters Invitational. Kevin Gray from New Jersey placed 1st in the 11-14 age group, with a total weight of 9.06 pounds. Chris Rizio from New Jersey took 2nd with 6.66 pounds. In the 15-17 age group, Joe Moore from New Jersey clinched first place with 5.80 pounds and Daniel Merchant of Vermont took 2nd with 5.42 pounds. We then moved to the team awards. New Jersey took 1st first place overall with a combined weight of 27.83 pounds. Second place went to the New York team, which had a combined weight of 17.14 pounds and third place was captured by West Virginia with 14.40 pounds. Big fish of the tournament went to Daniel Merchant from Vermont. His big bass weighed in at 4.50 pounds.
I would like to say thanks to all the parents for taking the time from their busy schedule to bring the junior anglers to our great state for this wonderful event. I can speak for all, I DID NOT WANT TO SEE THE EVENT END. What an experience! I will remember it for a long time. Take a child fishing and feel the joy. You will not regret it.
2003 Virginia Junior Bassmasters Invitational
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The Junior Bassmasters Invitational tournaments, for which the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund is a major financial sponsor, are open to any state that can provide a team made up of members from its own Junior Federation bass clubs. Invitationals have been hosted annually, since 1996, by six different Federations. In 2003, to accommodate more states, two Invitationals will be held, one in the East and one in the Midwest.
Virginia is hosting one of the two Junior Invitational Tournaments for the 2003 season, on Friday, July 11th, 2003. The host town is South Hill VA, the host hotel is the Best Western and the tournament water is Buggs Island, Kerr. The proposed launch site is South Bend (at dam).
As of January 1, 2003, 11 states have committed to attend the Virginia tournament. States attending: DC, DE, OH, WV, PA, MD, VT, NJ, NY, VA. Canada. Other states, which have indicated that they may attend, are SC, NC, GA, TN, AL, TX, and FL.
For further information, contact:
Britton, Virginia State Youth Director
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