Red Hawks ready for Bassmaster College Championship

Red Hawks ready for Bassmaster College Championship

HICKORY, N.C. — Four Catawba Valley Community College bass fishing team members will have the opportunity to bring home the biggest tournament victory of their lives this week.

Red Hawk anglers Lane Bailey, Adam Seagle, Jeremy Dellinger and Nathan Smith are competing this Thursday through Saturday at the 2020 Carhartt Bassmaster College National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida.

CVCC bass fishing head coach Angela Mayo is excited for her four Red Hawk anglers to have such a unique opportunity.

"This week is our very first trip to the B.A.S.S. College National Championship so this is pretty exciting," Mayo said. "I am confident that Adam, Lane, Jeremy and Nathan are going to make the Red Hawk Nation proud."

Dellinger and Smith qualified for the Bassmaster College National Championship in August with a ninth-place finish on Lake Hartwell.

It was a tournament that ironically started with Dellinger, Smith, Bailey and Seagle all at the very top of the leaderboard in first and second place.

"It's been very challenging and very surprising this season. No one expected any of this," said Dellinger, a North Lincoln High School alumnus. "We were supposed to go to Lake Hartwell in late March. I was really bummed out because that particular tournament got cancelled (due to COVID-19). It turns out it got rescheduled for the end of August, and me and Nathan qualified there. It's all part of a plan. You just don't see it at the time."

Bailey and Seagle did not qualify for the Bassmaster College National Championship through a tournament finish, but instead have been consistently competitive, placing inside the top 30 of points to earn their place at the event.

"We've had a bunch of ups and downs with boat troubles and stuff. Luckily, we were consistent throughout the year and ended up placing 30th to make the national championship," said Bailey, a South Caldwell High grad. "It's been a dream come true. In high school, I made the FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) National Championship, but I never got to make the B.A.S.S. National Championship. I finally get to go and enjoy that experience. It's really breathtaking."

This will be the first time each of the four Red Hawk anglers have competed in Florida, but something all of them are looking forward to.

"I've never been to Florida, and I've never fished in Florida so there are going to be new experiences," said Smith, who was high school teammates with Bailey at South Caldwell. "The standard in Florida is very high. I'm hoping to live up to the expectations and catch a fish of a lifetime."

Seagle, who also graduated from North Lincoln High School, believes having two duos in the tournament will be beneficial in helping each other in being successful at nationals this week.

"It's going to be good for us to have two teams going down there," Seagle said. "We can discuss everything and see if we can get at least one of our teams to do good."

The opportunity to bring home a national championship is something all four Red Hawks hope to seize this week despite a competitive field of 250 anglers.

"One bite down there could be a fish of a lifetime," Bailey said. "Unlike the lakes around here, you can go down there and catch a 10 pounder on any cast. I'm very anxious to go."

Dellinger agrees.

"Any time you go to Florida you have a chance to catch a very, very big fish," Dellinger said. "That's what we all strive to do. To be able to have the chance to do it in a national championship is something special."

Despite facing a tough, competitive field, Smith said that he and his teammates are going into this week's national tournament with a confident feeling.

"There's really no anxiousness," Smith said. "It's just more of getting the experience whether we do good or not. It'll help us in the future with our fishing. It'd be even better to go down there and do good, though."

Seagle knows that a lot has to go right, but if it does it could mean only the second national championship for any sport in school history — joining the 1990 CVCC golf team.

"Everything has to line up right and be one of those tournaments, but it would mean everything to our families and our CVCC family by bringing it back home," Seagle said. "We're going to try."