Seven North Carolina duos traveled to Wisconsin for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship last week, with four earning top-10 finishes in the three-day event.
UNC Charlotte’s Jake Whitaker and Andrew Helms, East Carolina’s Zachary Blalock and Mike Corbishley, Appalachian State’s Kelly Johnson and Jeremy Gilley and N.C. State’s Zack Bodford and Matthew Hinkle led the way for the North Carolina schools, finishing fourth, sixth, ninth and 10th, respectively, among the 85-team field. By finishing fourth, last year’s national champions Whitaker and Helms, qualified for the Carhartt Bassmater College Series Classic Bracket, which featured the individuals from the top eight teams in a bracket format for the only collegiate spot in next year’s GEICO Bassmaster Classic – a professional event.
Helms fell to Texas A&M’s Josh Bensema, who teamed with Matthew McArdle to take home the team title, in his first individual match, and Whitaker advanced to the final four before falling to eventual individual winner Trevor Lo of Minnesota.
Other North Carolina teams that competed were Hunter Hill and Ethan Howell from Appalachian State, N.C. State’s Grayson Barber and Hiroto Kinoshita and Austin Neary and Alex Frazier from Western Carolina. Hill and Howell finished 12th, Barber and Kinoshita finished 35th and Neary and Frazier finished 60th.
The Wisconsin conditions stymied the field for much of the week, with the national champions catching only eight fish in the three days and several teams unable to catch any at all.