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CU bass fishing team places second in national event

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By Special to the CKNJ

 

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Campbellsville University’s Bradley Dunagan and Nick Ratliff caught the biggest bag of the 2018 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship and finished runner-up on Lake Tenkiller this past weekend.

The crowd on the Northeastern State University campus erupted in screams as Dunagan and Ratliff dragged a big green 6-pound anchor across the stage and posted 18 pounds, 2 ounces to climb from fifth place to snatch the hot seat away from West Virginia’s Nolan Minor and Casey Lanier, who posted 15-4 on the final day.

But Bethel University's Garrett Enders and Cody Huff, who started the day in first place, jumped the Tigers with a final day total of 9 pounds, 2 ounces and went wire-to-wire claiming the national title.
Enders and Huff totaled 41 pounds, 6 ounces in the three-day event to outlast Campbellsville by 1 pound, 15 ounces. For Enders, the win holds extra meaning as nearly four years earlier to the day, July 19, 2014, he and then-partner Nick Osman won the first Bassmaster High School Championship on Kentucky Lake. Enders is now the only angler to win both and high school and college championship event in B.A.S.S. history.

"Seeing Nick and Bradley compete and adjust the way they did this week was by far one of the best things you can witness as a coach," said CU coach Pete Hedgepath. "Nick actually was a part of the first bass fishing team at Campbellsville and is a savvy veteran. He took Bradley under his wing this year and the two have made quite the team. Both of them have become better anglers because of the decision former head coach Tommy Hall made to put them in the same boat to start the year.

"It was a total team effort, though. Even the two teams that didn't make the final round were Nick and Bradley's biggest fans. The guys were cheering hard during weigh-ins and the atmosphere was the best it's ever been. The nerves and emotions set in quick but finishing in second place is a huge accomplishment for our team and I couldn't be more excited for these guys."

Dunagan and Ratliff worked spoons around marinas but worked so hard at it they had to make a run to the nearest Bass Pro Shops, in Broken Arrow, to restock after Day 2.

"We just started looking for spider webs, pitching where nobody else had been," Ratliff said. "We lost like 15 spoons today."

Their two best lures were a 4-inch Strike King Sexy Spoon and a 3.75-inch Talon Custom Lures Lake Fork Flutter Spoon.

“It's a little heavier on a shorter frame so you can slide it back in there," Ratliff said.

A key bait their first two days was a Zoom Hand-Poured Trick Worm on a drop shot.

Dunagan and Ratliff will now compete in the 2018 Carhartt College Bracket on Aug. 14-16 on Milford Lake in Junction City, Kansas. Both will split up for the first time this season and fish individually with the winner picking up a brand-new fully loaded Toyota truck and fully loaded boat to use next season.

A berth in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, set for March 15-17 on the Tennessee River in Knoxville, will be on the line as well.

The duo also picked up the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the final day weighing in at six pounds even. A 6-3 largemouth caught on Day 2 by Hayden Bartee of Alabama's Jefferson State University held up as Carhartt Big Bass for a $500 Carhartt gift certificate.

Joining Bethel and Campbellsville at the Bracket will be Minor and Lanier and Auburn University's Cole Burdeshaw and Peyton McCord.