12 named to 2018 Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published April 17, 2018
For the fourth consecutive year, 12 standout high school anglers have been selected as members of the exclusive Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods.
"We are proud to welcome an exceptional group of anglers to our 2018 class of High School All-Americans," said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. "This class has a rare combination of tournament success, leadership skill and community involvement, and we can't wait to see how they shape the future of our sport and our industry."
More than 465 applications from students grades 10-12 were submitted from 38 states across the nation. Of these, 64 were chosen as Bassmaster All-State anglers. After reviewing tournament résumés, community service activities and recommendations from coaches and school officials, a panel of judges further narrowed the field to the Top 12 high school anglers in the country.
The team has been invited to participate in a special Bassmaster High School All-American Bass Tournament being held in conjunction with the 2018 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, a fan-favorite tournament and festival that will be held May 17-20on Lake Travis out of Jonestown, Texas. Elite Series anglers will serve as teammates and "coaches" of the student anglers in the tournament. The high school standouts will be honored on the main Texas Fest stage at the weigh-in.
Congratulations to the following student athletes for being named to the 2018 Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team. Following are short biographies of the 2018 team members, listed alphabetically. (Judges only considered tournament records for the past 12 months.)
Alec Berens, Channahon, Ill.
Berens, a senior at Minooka Community High School District #111, has tallied an outstanding five tournament wins over the past 12 months. Berens was a double qualifier for the 2018 Illinois B.A.S.S. Nation State Championship and earned the top spot in standings in the Minooka Anglers Club.
Berens is the president of his bass fishing team and has an extensive lineup of conservation projects as well as community service activities. He is not only an outstanding student in the classroom, but he has also become an exemplary member of the community as well.
"Alec Berens has a focus that is hard to break," said his club advisor, Stan Tischer. "He always finds a way to succeed when the odds are against him. He is very positive and forward moving in the face of adversity, and he is quick to adapt in times of uncertainty. Aside from his great performance on the water, his work for the club, environment and the community is equally outstanding."
Spencer Childers, Jasper, Ga.
Childers, a senior at Pickens High School, has earned five wins in high school tournaments, including the B.A.S.S. Nation Georgia State Championship and Bass High School tournament. He also has three Top 5 finishes to his credit, each with 100-plus-boat fields.
In addition to his tournament success, Childers is a volunteer at the Pickens County Fishing Rodeo, an event in which children and adults with disabilities get the opportunity to fish in a stocked stream. Childers spent the day baiting hooks and helping members of the community experience the joy of catching fish. He is also a volunteer with his high school's Special Olympics program.
"One of the things that makes Spencer stick out from most high school kids is his ability to lead," wrote Bo Page, bass fishing coach at Pickens High School. "His leadership in the classroom is a rare and welcomed sight to his teachers. Spencer has never missed a meeting; he's never missed a tournament; and most importantly, he's never missed a chance to give back to our school and community."
Cal Culpepper, Hamilton, Ga.
A senior at Harris County High School and active member of the Harris County High School fishing team, Culpepper has excelled both on and off the water during his high school career. In the past 12 months alone, Culpepper has two first-place finishes to his name, including a West Point Lake SAF Georgia State Championship last spring.
Culpepper is a two-time Angler of the Year for the Harris County High School fishing team, and has qualified for both B.A.S.S. and SAF High School National Championships two years in a row. In addition to his successes in fishing, Culpepper dedicates time to helping younger kids on the fishing team sharpen their skills and become better anglers. He also helps special needs children fish during a local event called Camp Dream.
"Cal is a dedicated young man both on and off the water," said Mary Jones-Hudson, Harris County High School fishing team coach. "In the classroom, he is dedicated and committed to giving his all and maintaining a 3.5 or higher GPA. He has also proved to be a serious steward of his environment. He has participated in Help the Hooch, an organization in which volunteers help clean the Chattahoochee River and its tributaries and watersheds. He has helped to construct containers for anglers and others who fish to deposit their trash and unwanted fishing line and lures."
James Gibbons, Timmonsville, S.C.
A senior at South Florence High School, Gibbons has earned 10 Top 20 finishes, including a first-place finish at the 2017 Bassmaster National Championship on Kentucky Lake and 2017 TBF High School State Championship on Lake Murray.
"I first met James his freshman year when he became a part of the South Florence Fishing Team," wrote Jeremy Trussell, team advisor. "His consistently calm demeanor under pressure was only rivaled by his passion and leadership on his team. Though James consistently exceeds expectations in all areas of angling, the best example of his leadership ability, determination and intelligence is watching James mentor others."
Off the water, Gibbons volunteers at a local organization called "Help 4 Kids" and the Harvest Hope Food Bank, as well as collects used plastic baits and line for local adult bass teams.
Karson Hamilton, Hot Springs, Ark.
Hamilton, a 10th grader at Lake Hamilton High School and member of the Lake Hamilton Bass-N-Wolves fishing team, has earned five tournament wins in the past 12 months. In addition to his impressive tournament finishes, Hamilton also earned the title of Angler of the Year for the Lake Hamilton Bass-N-Wolves fishing team.
Hamilton is active off the water as well, volunteering at several local derbies and participating in his school's football team and trap-shooting team. He maintains a 3.6 GPA and also stays very involved in youth fellowship at his church.
"Karson is a great young man, and he is very dedicated to the sport," said Greg Mundy, Hamilton's fishing coach. "He has become a very competitive fisherman and is competing at many different levels. Karson is also dedicated to his community. He has volunteered his time to lake cleanup projects and habitat construction."
Ethan King, Wilsonville, Ala.
A junior at Shelby County High School, King has tallied an impressive three wins and three Top 20 finishes in the past 12 months. Among others, he earned a first-place finish in the 250-boat field Alabama Student Angler Bass Fishing Association State tournament on Neely Henry Lake.
Off the water, King participates in Back Pack Buddies - a program that supplies food for children in need when they're not in school.
"Ethan exhibits many leadership characteristics such as determination, commitment and integrity," wrote Casey Crumpton, athletic director and fishing coach at Shelby County High School. "He is an outstanding role model for the underclassman on our fishing team."
Tyler Lubbat, Wheeling, Ill.
A senior at Buffalo Grove High School, Lubbat is the first repeat qualifier for the Bassmaster High School All-American team, having been selected for the honor in 2017. He placed in the Top 5 of nearly every tournament he has entered in the past 12 months. He won five of those events, including the Illinois High School Association State Championship.
He has served as his class board treasurer, a member of Interact Club and DECA, an organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. He also made sectionals for the World Youth Science and Engineering Organization's high school academic competition. Lubbat has also earned National Honor Society and National Merit Commended Student State Scholar recognition. On the conservation front, he helps instruct proper fish care techniques at high school tournaments as well as lead in collection and cleanup of plastic baits used at events.
"Tyler has exemplified what it means to be a well-rounded student striking a balance between academics, activities, bass fishing and community service, drawing on his leadership skills to manage and excel in all areas of high school life," wrote Mark Schaetzlein, assistant principal for student activities at Buffalo Grove High School.
Thomas Martin, Marquez, Texas
A senior on the Rains High School bass fishing team, Martin has an impressive record in the past 12 months, earning two victories in tournaments with fields of 100 or more boats - one being the 520-boat Southeast Texas High School Fishing Association (SETX) Championship.
"His self-discipline allows the balance of extracurricular activities with academics," wrote Geoffrey Bowdoin, principal at Leon Elementary. "The commitment to excellence he possesses has allowed him to excel in the classroom as well as his success in high school fishing. This young man is willing to go the extra mile to help anyone out. He puts others before himself."
Martin also assists with the Jewett City Cleanup and Warriors Weekend tournament, an event for wounded soldiers. He is also a member of Future Farmers of America, Elite Wrangler dance team, golf team and varsity cheerleader.
Garrett McWilliams, Florence, Miss.
A junior at Discovery Christian School and a member of the Discovery Christian School Lions, McWilliams has earned an impressive three tournament wins in the past 12 months. The most notable being a B.A.S.S. Open Division State Championship held on Ross Barnett Reservoir.
McWilliams is very involved in his community and enjoys spending time volunteering at various activities at his church, as well as at a local nursing home. When he is not fishing or dedicating time to helping others, he also enjoys a variety of extracurricular activities such as baseball, archery and hunting.
"Garrett is well regarded by his teachers and peers," said McWilliams' athletic director, Joseph Dykes. "Though Garrett is only in high school, I can already see the kind of man he will become, and I know I will be proud to say that I had just a tiny part of shaping that person. Garrett is a bright young man with a bright future ahead of him."
Dalton Smith, Brandon, Miss.
At only 16 years old, Smith has more than earned his place on the 2018 Bassmaster High School All-American fishing team. In the past 12 months, Smith has three first-place finishes under his belt, including a B.A.S.S. Nation High School tournament against 106 boats held on Ross Barnett Reservoir last fall.
Smith, a 10th grader at Northwest Rankin High School, is a four-time Mississippi Junior State champion and is very involved in his school and community. He volunteers at a local behavioral health center where he performs casting and flipping demonstrations for adults with psychiatric illness to help develop their interest in fishing and recreational therapeutic coping skills. He also excels in the classroom, especially in math and science, and dedicates time to tutoring other students in algebra and geometry.
"Dalton encourages his peers as well as younger children to put away their computers and cellphones and get outdoors and try fishing," said Mary Jane Cox, the art department chair at Northwest Rankin High School. "He is a great positive role model for the next generation of fishermen."
Samuel Vandagriff, McMinnville, Tenn.
Vandagriff, a senior at Warren County High School, has been the president of his bass fishing club for the past four years. He also has two impressive wins, including a first-place finish at the Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation High School Rumble on the Hill which was held on Center Hill Lake.
Alongside his success on the water, Vandagriff also has a very impressive record in the classroom. He has maintained 4.2 GPA throughout his high school career and has earned almost $10,000 in college scholarship money. He is described by many as a "well-rounded young man who is passionate in everything he sets out to accomplish."
"Samuel also leads off the water in his school, church and community, participating in things like hurricane relief, Habitat for Humanity and Relay for Life," said David Lowrie, Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation High School state director.
"He always volunteers to assist in the setup and teardown of the Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation stage and equipment for tournaments. Samuel provides leadership for Warren County's fishing team and sets an example for other Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation high school and junior anglers."
Jacob Woods, Loudon, Tenn.
Woods, a senior at Lenoir City High School, has earned five wins in high school tournaments, including the Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, in which he competed against 125 teams. He also has nine Top 5 finishes to his credit.
"Jacob is one of the first people to step up and help others, and he is always very encouraging toward his fellow students," wrote Josey Harris Miller, agriculture teacher at Lenoir City High School. "He is a true leader on and off the lake."
Woods also serves as the president of the Lenoir City High School Bass Club, where he organizes special speakers for meetings and plans fundraisers and community services projects, such as lake cleanups and conservations efforts like the Pitch It campaign and Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers. He plans on pursing a degree in Agribusiness and Agrimarketing at Tennessee Tech University, as well as fish on the college team.