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Angling for a national championship

Prospect Mountain bass team raising funds for trip to national competition

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

CODY SYMONDS (left) and Wyatt Stockman have qualified for the Bassmaster High School championships in Tennessee in July and are raising funds to make the trip. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 16, 2014
ALTON — Cody Symonds and Wyatt Stockman brought Prospect Mountain a championship banner with their huge haul at the state championships on Lake Winnisquam last fall.

Now they are hoping to take their success to the next level and are searching for help in the process.

The two Prospect Mountain students are hoping to attend the Bassmaster High School Championships in Tennessee in July and are raising funds to help pay for the trip.

Though the NHIAA sanctioned bass fishing this season, the official high school season ends with the state championships. However, the New Hampshire Bass Nation Federation used the NHIAA championships as the determining factor for choosing a New Hampshire team and in winning that championship, Symonds and Stockman earned the right to compete in the national championships. The event is not a school function due to the fact that the NHIAA does not sanction any event after the state championships, but it is a great chance for the two anglers to compete against kids from around the country.

"We both think we can compete at that level," Symonds said of hitting the waters at the national championships.

The national championships will be almost a week in length, so the anglers are raising funds for plane tickets, rental car (Stockman's mom Bethany and Symonds' mom Kerri are traveling with their sons), hotel rooms and meals while they are there.

The team will have two days of practice on Kentucky Lake, July 14 and 15, where they will get a chance to find where they think the fish are. All fish caught in practice have to be released back into the water.

After registration on July 15, the teams will then fish the waters of Kentucky Lake and Barkley Lake on July 16 and 17 as part of the two days of competition. Launch times start at 5:30 a.m. and are staggered in flights. Each of the almost 100 teams in attendance will get the same amount of fishing time per day. Weigh-in is at Paris Landing State Park in Buchanan, Tenn.

After two days of fishing, teams in the top half of the standings will move on to the next day, where they will fish in Carroll County Lake and weigh-in at Bethel University. The top 10 teams on day three will move on to the finals on July 19, after which the inaugural Bassmaster High School champion will be crowned.

In addition to a national championship, anglers are competing for a share of $21,000 in scholarships from B.A.S.S. as well as merchandise provided by sponsors. Bethel University, one of the hosts of the meet, will also award $40,000 in scholarships, $5,000 a year for four years to the top two anglers, providing they are high school juniors or seniors and will use the scholarship to attend the school and be part of the school's bass fishing team.

"Even if we don't win, even the experience is great," Stockman noted.

While Symonds noted it would be great to hang out and compete with the best high school anglers in the country, he also noted that he and Stockman are going to compete.

"We have some high goals," he said.

That being said, the two are a bit surprised about the success they had at the state level and what it's led to.

"I never thought we'd get there," Stockman said.

"I figured we'd do well, but it's fishing, you never know," Symonds said of the success at the NHIAA championships.

Symonds, a junior and Stockman, a sophomore, have both been fishing a long time and they've fished in numerous places, so they are hopeful that their experience will pay off in Tennessee.

One of the biggest issues the team faced was finding a boat captain. Athletic Director Corey Roux served in that capacity at the state championships, but for the national competition, the students needed to find a local person willing to serve.

Luckily, both Stockman and Symonds have relatives who know the area and were able to help them secure a boat captain for the competition. They noted that the boat captain essentially just provides the boat and moves the anglers around the water. While the boat captain is allowed three "time outs" in which he or she can help the students in certain ways, for the most part they have to allow the students to call the shots.

The two students are grateful to the local businesses who have already helped contribute to their cause and because of that they have been able to pay for the flights and the rental cars.

However, they will need some gear (travel boxes for their fishing poles is one necessity), as well as lodging and food.

"There's still a lot of expenses that are necessities," Symonds said. "But we've already booked our flights and stuff, so we're going.

"We've made progress, but we're still fundraising," he added.

Anyone looking to help the local anglers make the trip to the national championships can contact TD Bank in Alton. The account is to Kerri Symonds c/o PMHS Bass Fishing Club Fund.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or sportsgsn@salmonpress.com

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