Featured Top 5 Teams in the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year

Plus Listing of  Sixth Thru Fifteenth Places

This is the final installment of a three-part article series highlighting the Top 25 ranked teams in the final standings for the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. In this piece, we will be taking a look at the Top 5 ranked teams. Each of these five teams were picked inside of the Top 10 for the ACA Pre-Season Poll coming into this year:

1. University of Montevallo
2. University of North Alabama
3. Carson-Newman University
4. McKendree University
5. Auburn University

 

1. University of Montevallo

The University of Montevallo won the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia with a season total of 40,305 points. This victory adds to Montevallo’s legacy in the college fishing record books, as they are the first school ever to win four titles. Those four titles have also been won in four consecutive seasons (2021, 2022, 2023, 2024). Montevallo edged out its next-closest competitor by close to 4,000 points.

Montevallo started off the 2023-24 campaign by earning the most points of any team to compete at the Bassmaster College Series National Championship at Pickwick Lake. Brody Robison & Jack Alexander finished in 3rd, and Easton Fothergill & Nick Dumke took 5th. Those two Top 5 finishes earned the team 3,880 points.

At major national tournaments (ACA, BASS, and MLF) Montevallo anglers won four of those events:

·     Bassmaster College Series at Lake Murray: Peyton Harris & Dalton Head
·     MLF College Series at Table Rock Lake: Nick Dumke & Easton Fothergill
·     Bassmaster College Series at Kentucky Lake: Blair Erickson & Jackson Pontius
·     ACA Hartwell Slam: Nick Dumke & Easton Fothergill

Across all 12 of the double and triple points events on the three major college series, Montevallo’s two highest-finishing teams never placed outside of the Top 25. 7 out of 12 times, their two highest-placing teams were both inside of the Top 10.

2. University of North Alabama

Like top-ranked Montevallo, the University of North Alabama is a multiple-time winner of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. UNA won back-to-back titles in 2014, and 2015. The 2023-24 2nd place finish is UNA’s highest end-of-season ranking since another 2nd in 2018.

UNA earned a season total of 36,355 points. 15,670 of those points were earned at ACA events. The team’s season started off strong with a 5th & 12th place finish at the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley. UNA’s top two teams at the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open in October of 2023 placed 21st & 22nd. Their worst showing of the season at an ACA event came during the Hartwell Slam, where the team’s two highest-placing boats were 63rd & 64th

However, UNA closed the season strong at the triple points Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops. Here were UNA’s top three finishing teams at the ACA’s season-ending National Championship:

1st Place – Dylan Nutt & Carter Nutt
3rd Place – Nathan Reynolds & Banks Shaw
25th Place – Preston Kolisek & Smith McGregor

UNA earned the most points of any team to compete at Pickwick Lake. These Top 3 finishes earned them 6,980 points. At the time, this helped them to narrow the gap between themselves and 2nd ranked Carson-Newman from 3,825 points down to 1,795 points.

3. Carson-Newman University

Carson-Newman University was selected as 4th in the ACA Pre-Season Poll coming into the year, and their final ranking for the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia is 3rd. The team amassed a total of 36,220 points, with 15,180 points coming at ACA ran events.

Carson-Newman earned over 3,000 points at each ACA regular-season double points event contested. At the Hartwell Slam in April, they earned the most points of any team to compete in the event with 3,420. Here is a look at their top two finishes at each ACA regular-season event:

Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley – Top two finishes:
4th – Jacob Deel, T-6th – Dylan May
AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open – Top two finishes: 6th – Hayden Gaddis & Ben Cully, 7th– Storm Cline & Gavin Clevenger
Hartwell Slam – Top two finishes: 4th Cason Price & Brayden Ruckman, 6th – Drake Hemby & Ewin Minor

While Carson-Newman did not have a victory at a major double/triple points college series event (ACA, BASS, MLF), they still had a very strong year. At those 12 specific tournaments, their two highest-placing teams were both in the Top 25 at a total of eight events.

4. McKendree University

The next team to be featured is one that has cemented its place at the top of the rankings over the course of the last 10 years. McKendree University finishes the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia ranked 4th. McKendree, a two-time title winner (2019, 2020), has finished inside of the Top 5 for the last six seasons, and the Top 10 for 9 straight. The worst finish in that stretch was a 6th place in 2018.

McKendree was picked 5th in the ACA Pre-Season Poll to start the year. Like Carson-Newman in front of them, McKendree did not win a major double or triple points event this season. Out of those 12 major tournaments, they placed both of their two highest-finishing teams inside of the Top 25 four times.

The two-time School of the Year title winner competed in all four ACA major events last season. Across those tournaments, they earned a total of 14,870 points. McKendree’s best finish at an ACA event came during the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley. With a 9th and 25th place finish, McKendree earned 3,180 points at Kentucky Lake. They were also only one of five teams to earn over 6,000 points at the Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops.

 

5. Auburn University

Rounding out this rankings review is Auburn University. Auburn finishes the 2023-24 season ranked 5th in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. The Alabama-based team was picked 1st in the ACA Pre-Season Poll entering this year.

Auburn anglers started the year off strong as team members Hayden Marbut & Tucker Smith won the Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Pickwick Lake. Auburn placed its two highest-finishing teams in the Top 25 at five of the 12 major college events contested in this cycle.

With a total of 33,450 points earned, Auburn finishes in the Top 5 for the third straight season. This 5th place finish also makes eight straight seasons(2017-2024) in which the team has ended the year in the Top 15. The last time Auburn finished outside of the Top 25 for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia was 2016 (26th).

Sixth Thru Fifteenth Finishing Places

Each school represented in this segment of the rankings was picked to be inside of the Top 25, per the ACA’s annual Pre-Season Poll. Teams ranked 6th – 15th were separated by less than 7,000 points, with

6. LSU-Shreveport

This rankings review starts off by featuring a team that achieved its program’s best-ever finish in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. LSU-Shreveport finished the 2023-24 season ranked 6th, with 32,655 points. Prior to this season, the team’s highest finish was 15th (2022-23). LSUS has now finished in the Top 25 for the National Rankings in three straight seasons. Picked 15th in the Pre-Season Poll, LSUS exceeded its pre-season ranking by a total of nine places. This is the largest margin of improvement from the start of the year through the end of the year by any team represented in this article highlighting those ranked 6th – 15th.

7. Adrian College

Adrian College checks in at 7th overall in the final rankings for the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Over the past 10 or so years, the team from Michigan has cemented its place amongst the top college bass fishing programs in the country. With a 7th place finish this year, that makes for seven straight seasons in which Adrian College has ended the season ranked inside of the Top 10. And in the years prior to that stretch starting, they were ranked inside of the Top 25 on a regular basis. Their program’s best-ever end-of-season ranking is 3rd, and that is why they were chosen entering the season via the ACA’s Pre-Season Poll.

8. Murray State University

The next team we’ll review is Murray State University. Murray State qualified the second most number of boats (11) out of any school to compete at the Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops. This speaks to the team’s success at ACA events in 2023-24, as additional top spots were earned via top finishes. Murray State earned 16,215 points at ACA events last season. Here is a look at those top finishes:

Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley: Top two finishes – 1st  Harlan Thomas, 3rd Braiden Koerber
AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open: Top two finishes – 2nd Caden Crutchfield & Micah Sowders, 5th  Archer Smith & Jackson Kulijof
Hartwell Slam: Top two finishes – 5th Levi Kohl & Grant Meisenhelter, 10th Adrian Urso & Corbin Templon

Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops: Top three finishes – 7th Adrian Urso & Corbin Templon, 24th Harlan Thomas & Caleb White, 65th Caden Crutchfield & Sam Moll

9. Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University finishes the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia ranked 9th overall, with a season total of 31,700 points. Campbellsville has finished in the Top 20 at the end of the season for six straight years. Their best finish ever in the only all-encompassing National Rankings system came in 2022-23 when they finished 7th overall. Campbellsville was nominated as the 6th best team coming into this past year, per the ACA Pre-Season Poll.

Campbellsville University competed in all four ACA major events during the 2023-24 season. Across those four tournaments, they earned a total of 13,570 points. Wyatt Pearman & Ridge Rutledge won the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open, and Ryan Lachniet & Tavin Hodgens finished in 2nd at the Hartwell Slam.

10. Lander University

Entering this season, Lander University was selected as 17th in the ACA’s annual Pre-Season Poll. Following the school’s best season in program history, Lander finished 10th overall for the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. Lander ended the season with a total of 30,525 points. Lander’s historic season was bolstered by several major tournament victories throughout the year:

MLF College Series at Lake Hartwell: 1st Place – Kaleb Brown & Cole Moulton
Bassmaster College Series at Clarks Hill: 1st Place – Anderson Jones

Lander University started the 2023-24 race in 1st place when the first rankings were revealed early last fall. This was the highest-ever in-season ranking achieved by the program from Greenwood, SC.

11. Bethel University

The next team to be featured in this rankings review is Bethel University. Bethel finishes the year ranked 11th, with 30,405 points. Bethel edged out 12th place by close to 4,000 points. That is the largest gap between a team and its next closest competitor in this segment of the rankings. Bethel University competed in all four ACA major events throughout the 2023-24 season, earning a total of 12,360 points. Bethel University anglers started the season off strong, as the team’s highest finishing boat at the Bassmaster College Series Championship placed in 2nd overall. That was the pairing of Levi Mullins and Matthew Cummings. Bethel University also had very strong showings at each of its three MLF regular-season double points tournaments. Bethel’s lowest-finishing, points-earning team across those three MLF events placed in 16th

12 University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee was picked 19th overall in the annual ACA Pre-Season Poll entering this past school year. By earning a season total of 26,540 points, Tennessee finished the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia ranked 12th. The team from Knoxville, TN got off to a hot start this season by earning 3,180 points at the Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Bash presented by Berkley. Tennessee’s top two anglers placed in 11th (Austin Wadzinski) and 23rd overall (Matthew Dettling). One of Tennessee’s best individual showings came at the Bassmaster College Series event on Sam Rayburn. Jackson Paden & Joey Bissing finished in 4th place at that tournament. 

13. Dallas Baptist University

Checking in at 13th is Dallas Baptist University. DBU earned a season total of 25,950 points at a total of 16 points-earning events competed in. 2023-24 is the 8th straight season in which DBU has finished inside of the Top 25 for the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia at the end of the year. DBU has finished in the Top 10 multiple times, with the program’s best finish coming during the 2012-13 season, in which they finished 8th overall. DBU anglers earned over 2,500 points at each ACA double points event this season, along with team member Hunter Jenkins claiming Overall Big Bass and earning a new Power-Pole at the AFTCO Collegiate Bass Open.  

14. Wabash Valley College

Wabash Valley College finishes the 2023-24 season ranked 14th in the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. This 14th-place ranking ties for WVC’s highest-ever end-of-season ranking. WVC also finished the 2021-22 season in 14th. This also makes for the 4th straight season in which WVC has ended the year inside of the Top 20 for college fishing’s only al-encompassing National Rankings system. WVC competed in all four ACA major events this past season, earning a total of 12,860 points. Close to half of their points came at ACA events. For the season, WVC accumulated 25,870 points. 

15. Drury University

Drury University is the final team to be highlighted in this rankings review for the 2023-24 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. The team from Springfield, MO finished the season ranked 15th, with 25,690 points. The 2023-24 campaign marks the 5th straight season in which Drury University has finished the year ranked in the Top 15. Entering the 2023-24 season, Drury University was selected by coaches, anglers, and media members as the 11th-ranked team via the ACA Annual Pre-Season Poll. Drury University earned close to 10,000 points at ACA events this past season.

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