High school students from throughout Upstate South Carolina competed in the first annual Bearcat Angler High School Tournament on August 26 at Strom Thurmond Lake in McCormick County.
Organized and hosted by the Lander University Bearcat Anglers, the tournament attracted 36 young anglers who competed as 18 teams. Students from Spartanburg High School, Greenville High School, Abbeville High School, Riverside High School and others took part in the tournament.
Participants were limited to catching a maximum of five largemouth, spotted, redeye or smallmouth bass reaching a minimum length of 12 inches. The fish were released after the official weigh-in.
Earning first-place honors were Drake Boyd and Chandler Ellis, of Abbeville. The duo’s catch of five fish weighing a total of 9.96 pounds won each of them a $500 scholarship to attend Lander University, along with free housing.
Hot on their heels was the team of Daelyn Whaley and Molly Beauford, of Abbeville, who finished second with 9.79 pounds of fish.
Dean Peeples and Tyler Hastings, of Greenwood, claimed third place with 8.11 pounds of catch.
"We’re very pleased with the success of our first Bearcat Angler High School Tournament. The turnout was great and everything went smoothly,” said Lander student and Bearcat Anglers member Trevor Stewart, of Inman. “The foundation has been laid for this event to grow and become a great annual event to benefit the Bearcat Anglers – and to support and encourage the sport of fishing among young anglers.”
Established in 2011, the Lander Bearcat Anglers compete in both the FLW and the B.A.S.S. tournaments. Team members are active within local communities and regularly speak with high school students about what it takes to fish on the collegiate level.