Red Hawks finish ’20-21 season ranked 17th nationally

Red Hawks finish ’20-21 season ranked 17th nationally

LAKE MURRAY, Ky. — The Catawba Valley Community College bass fishing team capped off its 2020-21 season this past week at the BoatUS National Championship on Lake Murray, finishing the season with a top-20 national ranking.

"This season coming to a close is bittersweet," said CVCC bass fishing head coach Angela Mayo. "Two years ago, we started this program, and we have all grown together. I wish that I could keep everyone a few more years, but I know that — as a junior college program — we have done our job and prepared them well to succeed when they move on to their universities in the fall."

All five Red Hawk teams finished in the top 75 percent of the BoatUS National Championship — a tournament that included two- and four-year colleges and universities from around the United States.

The CVCC tandem of Lucas Oliver and Caleb Lonca made the biggest jump of any Red Hawk team from day one to day two.

After catching just 3.83 pounds on bass during their first day of competition, Lonca and Oliver caught 14.89 pounds of bass on the second day, including a big bass of 6.06 pounds, to move from 113th place to 45th place.

"We ended up grinding out a limit for almost 15 pounds, which bumped us up 68 places and landed us a 45th place finish in the tournament," Lonca said. "All of our teams fished hard, and we gave it all we had. We are all proud of being one of the top college programs in the nation."

Oliver credits the day two success with a few tweaks of their lures and fishing in different spots on Lake Murray.

"Fish are always moving, and you just have to figure out what is working on that given day," Oliver said. "The fishing was tough at the tournament, and our hats go off to all the fisherman out there working hard to catch the big bag. I'd love go give a special thank you to CVCC, our coaches, parents and all our sponsors for supporting us and allowing us the opportunity to do what we love — fish. We are growing and learning new things every time we are in the water. Maybe next year we will catch bigger bags and bring the championship home to CVCC."

Mayo is pleased with all of her Red Hawk anglers, including Lonca and Oliver, after battling through a deep field at a difficult event.

"Lake Murray was a tough tournament," Mayo said. "I'm really proud of Caleb and Lucas for keeping their heads in it and bringing in a big bag of fish on day two. They just barely finished outside of the prize cut."

Two other Red Hawk teams finished inside the top 100 boaters, including Jeremy Dellinger and Nathan Smith in 87th place with a two-day total of 12.24 pounds, which put them in 87th place, and the team of Lane Bailey and Adam Seagle with 10.38 pounds of bass and a 96th-place showing.

Also finishing in the top three-fourths of the field were Justin Eggers and Spencer Black in 110th place with 8.65 pounds of bass, and fishing by himself, Nathan Dellinger caught 4.55 pounds of bass on day one, but did not secure a catch on day two to finish in 134th place.

With this week's finishes, the Red Hawks end the season in 17th place in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year standings — the highest finishing junior college program and also the top bass fishing program in the state of North Carolina.

"It's still hard for me to believe that we finished up as the top ranked junior college in the nation and 17th place overall," Mayo said. "Unlike most sports, we compete against every college out there, and these anglers from our little community showed that hard work and dedication really level the playing field."