Three Kansas State anglers will compete for a pair of major titles next week, hoping to add to an already stellar season for the college fishing program.
Travis Blenn and Sheldon Rogge will head to Paul Bunyan Park in Bemidji, Minn., to compete in the Bassmaster College Series National Championship, which runs Aug. 10-12. Takeoff will be at 6 a.m. Topeka time each day, with weigh-ins at 2:30 p.m. Meanwhile, Kyle Alsop will be competing Aug. 11-13 in the prestigious FLW Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray in South Carolina. Takeoff will be at 6 a.m. each day in this tournament, as well, with weigh-ins at 4 p.m. Alsop will compete against 52 other anglers, many of whom are among the elite professionals on the FLW Tour, for a $300,000 grand prize.
Alsop, a native of Overland Park, gained entry into the Forrest Wood Cup after he and teammate Blenn, of Westmoreland, won the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship this June on Alabama’s Lake Wheeler. The win marked Kansas State’s third national title victory in five years, with Alsop becoming the first college angler to win multiple national titles. He also won a title fishing alongside Taylor Bivins during the 2016 Bassmaster college championship on Kentucky’s Green Lake. Prior to that, Ryan Patterson won an FLW title in 2012 while fishing solo.
“We honestly didn’t think we had enough weight on the final day,” Blenn said. “Sitting at the tanks, both me and Kyle really didn’t think we had it won, because Bethel had a limit and they were only sitting about 5 ounces behind us, and while we had a little bit of cushion over South Carolina, they brought a pretty decent bag to the scales on the final day that had us thinking we didn’t have enough weight.
“It wasn’t ’til closer to the end when I was seeing some of the bags go across the stage and hearing some of the weights that I thought we might still have a small chance. It really wasn’t ’til the very end when we were doing some quick math in our heads figuring we only needed about 10 pounds that it really set in that we had it won. Kyle and me kinda looked at each other thinking surely we had at least 10 pounds. I think we ended up weighing 11-11 on the final day.”
As part of the prize for winning the program’s latest college title, the teammates were able to compete in a fishoff on Alabama’s Wilson Lake to determine which one would get to fish for the Cup. Alsop won the fishoff by nearly three pounds, which freed Blenn up to compete alongside Rogge at the Bassmaster national championship.
“I really was happy that Kyle ended up winning because he really deserved it,” Blenn said after the fishoff. “He has put a lot of time into this sport, and especially since he’s done with college and really thinking hard about making fishing into a career — even though he has two national championship wins, the Forrest Wood Cup is the stepping stone he needs to make that big leap to go pro. If he can go out and have a good showing at the cup, it will really go a long ways for him.”
Rogge will have a chance to add his name to the list of K-State’s national title winners if the Wildcats put up a good showing in Minnesota. The St. George native, a graduate of Rock Creek High School, coached Blenn and teammate Spencer Bowers during their 2014 win at the TBF/SAF Kansas High School State Championship at Kansas’ Wilson Lake. Rogge was then a freshman at K-State.
KANSANS COMPETE FOR HIGH SCHOOL NATIONAL TITLE: Several potential future members of the K-State program fished earlier this summer in the 2017 Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn.
Zach Viehlhauer and Remington Wagner, competing for the Kickback High School Club, finished the highest of all Kansas competitors, placing 58th with a two-day total of 28 pounds, 12 ounces. Vielhauer and Wagner qualified for the national tournament with a second-place finish in the Costa Bassmaster Midwest Open behind Trevor Whisenant and Brett Lasley, of Kickback. The DeSoto sibling duo of Connor and Dylan Nimrod finished two spots behind them at the No. 60 spot with 28 pounds, 2 ounces.
Topekan Thomas Heinen, of Hayden, and his teammate Brock Bila, of Overland Park, finished 115th with 19 pounds, 11 ounces, just ahead of Salina’s Hunter Baird and Nick Davenport, representing Capital HS Bass Club, with 19-7. Baird and Davenport, who also won the 2015 TBF/FLW Kansas State High School Championship, qualified for the event as Kansas’ Team Trail champions.
Clifton-Clyde’s Gavin Koch and Matthew Barnes took 168th with a two-day total of 12-11, and Whisenant and Lasley finished in 215th place with 4-6.
In the junior circuit, Nicholas and Kyle Herrman finished in 40th place while representing the Topeka Jr. Hawgs team. They had a two-day total of 6 pounds, 5 ounces. They qualified for the tournament with a second-place finish in the B.A.S.S. Kansas Youth State Championship, as tournament winners Maxwell Douglas and Parker Phillips, of Kickback, were unable to attend.