Georgia Southern University Bass Fishermen Earn Spot in National Championship
It’s been a long time coming, but Georgia Southern University’s Jed Thigpen and Wesley Maples are bass fishing for a national title. After three years of fishing at the club level, the pair will face off against the 25 best collegiate bass fishing teams in the nation at the 2012 National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship, April 13-15, on Lake Murray in Columbia, S.C.
“As far as college fishing goes, this is our Super Bowl,” said Thigpen, a senior biology major at Georgia Southern. “This is what we fish for all year. It means a lot just to get to this point, because we spent a lot of time, money and effort just to get here.”
There is a lot at stake in Columbia. The national champion’s team receives cash and prizes from FLW Outdoors, the governing body of a series of professional and collegiate fishing tournaments. FLW Outdoors awards the top club with $50,000, a new boat wrapped in school colors and $25,000 toward a general scholarship for the school that the team represents.
The winners also earn a spot in the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup, held August 9-12, on Lake Lanier in Duluth, Ga. The Forrest Wood Cup is the world championship of professional bass fishing, and the collegiate national champions will have a chance at the $600,000 grand prize.
Coverage from the 2012 National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship will air in high definition on the NBC Sports Network, May 27, at 1 p.m.
Last year, the pair placed first out of 40 teams at a qualifying tournament on April 30, at Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Ala., to earn a spot at the 2011 FLW Southeastern Conference Championship. The Georgia Southern duo edged second-place Georgia by 1 pound, 2 ounces for the win. On Sept. 8, 2011, at Lake Harding in Auburn, Ala., the Eagles placed in the top five at the conference championship, earning the national championship berth. The Eagles edged Auburn by less than a pound on day three, and finished behind Georgia, Clemson and Kennesaw State.