This week on Americana Outdoors, we’re in Texas on Fayette County Reservoir bringing you exclusive coverage of the Ranger Cup University Team Of The Year Challenge! The qualifying anglers for this year’s event include Carter McNeil and Cole Floyd of Bethel University, and Adam Puckett and Blake Albertson from Murray State. These two universities are powerhouses that have dominated the collegiate bass fishing tournament circuits for many years, both of whom have won the Bass Pro Shops BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship in the past!
To kick things off, we’re taking a look back on the twenty-year history of the Ranger Cup Contingency Program. Since its inception twenty years ago, over nineteen million dollars has been paid out to Ranger Cup qualified anglers on various tournament trails, including Texas Team Trail, the IFA Red Fish Tour, the National Walleye Tour, B.A.S.S. and FLW tournament trails, and many other great fishing circuits nationwide. The Ranger Cup University Program is an extension of the Ranger Cup Contingency Program and has been running consecutively for the last nine years. Contrary to Ranger Cup requirements for anglers on professional circuits, University anglers do not need to run a ranger boat to qualify, nor do they need to pay to sign up for the program, they simply need to meet some clothing and logo requirements. New for twenty twenty, Ranger is implementing some big changes to their Ranger Cup University Program. Starting with increased payouts, one team will qualify at each of the five events on the Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing Series for a chance to compete in the Ranger Cup University Challenge!
Before getting out on the water, Wade Middleton joins us to officially set the tournament into action! they take off, Wade informs them of some twists and format changes implemented this year. Instead of fishing any area they want for the day, this tournament will be divided up into four sessions, placing the rivals in specific areas of Fayette County Reservoir for predetermined time slots until they reach the free fish time slot in the afternoon.
Right off the bat, Murray takes off with a strong lead and quickly lands two fish for just over nine pounds within the first thirty minutes of competition. In the second session of the day, Bethel makes some moves and closes the gap to a three-pound difference. As we head into the third session of the tournament, both teams light up the water and its fish catch after fish catch for both teams. By mid-afternoon, Murray is still holding on to their lead with 17 pounds 6 ounces, and Bethel close behind at 13 pounds 3 ounces.
As we move into the final session of the day, the much-anticipated free-for-all, Murray experiences a pretty dramatic lull in their fishing while Bethel gets on top of the fish and reels em in one after the other. For the first time in the day, Bethel just barely edges out Murray and takes the lead with 28 pounds 3 ounces, compared to Murray’s 26 pounds 3 ounces. With time dwindling down, both teams fish down to the wire in their attempt to claim the championship title and win those bragging rights for their school. Tune in and find out if Bethel is able to earn their redemption from last year, or if Murray State is going to come back with a major upset and win it all!