SAN ANTONIO, Texas--Adrian College finished its 2016-17 season a month ago but the Bulldogs' recent string of wins has yielded a No. 1 national ranking in the latest Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing School of the Year (SOY) standings, presented by Abu Garcia. That announcement was made by the Association of Collegiate Anglers (ACA) which compiles the poll. This marks the second time in program history that the Bulldogs have been ranked first in the nation as they also reached the pinnacle in the college fishing world in September 2015 during their first season of competition.
Arguably the hottest team in the nation, Adrian College has overtaken Bethel University for the lead in the ACA/Cabela's national rankings after earning back to back victories at YETI Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Northern Conference events on Lake Erie (Sep. 6 in Sandusky, Ohio) and Chautauqua Lake (July 22 in Bemus Point, N.Y.). In addition, Lake Erie culminated a great spring and summer with four wins, five additional top fives, and eight other top tens since May alone. The Bulldogs also shined at the state level by sweeping the school and student-athlete of the year awards from the Michigan College Bass Circuit.
Indeed, Adrian has been well represented this season and is poised to make a run at this year's title.
"We have had a phenomenal summer and we are in a great spot heading into our off season," said Seth Borton, the only coach the Bulldogs have ever known. "With the high level of competition that we will face as we head south for the (2018) season, we know we have very little room for error. Taking care of business in the FLW Northern conference with a third-place showing and two victories is a huge confidence booster for our team. Being first in the SOY standings right now simply means we have made the most of the opportunities we have had thus far.
"We owe a lot of our success to the business community that have invested in our team, like Adrian Mechanical, Adrian Steel, TLC, Vanettan Company, Meyers Boats, Officeville and Insignia," Borton added.
The duo of junior Chase Serafin (Highland, Mich.) and sophomore Cody Batterson (Pleasant Hill, Iowa) are the two most recent team members to earn Cabela's School of the Year points at the FLW Northern event on Lake Erie, winning the season finale with a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 2 ounces. This was an all-around tough event for all the teams with heavy winds causing anglers to have to make adjustments in order to be able to catch keepers during the event.
"We have been in this spot before. It's a long season and we are going to have our work cut out for us in order to stay in this spot the remainder of the season," commented Serafin. "We now have juniors and seniors who have some experience on certain tournament waters and I think that really helps the learning curve for the younger guys."
The team of senior Jarrett Martin and sophomore Zach Graham, both of Gallipolis, Ohio, was able to win the FLW event on Chautauqua Lake by bringing in a very impressive limit of bass that tipped the scales at 16-3. This team may be the hottest boat in the country after racking up two more top-five finishes in the FLW Northern events. They finished third at the Smith Mountain Lake event (April 29 in Huddleston, Va.) and fourth at Lake Erie.
"I've been here since the first year of the program, so I'm proud of the progress we have made and the solid foundation we have been slowly building on," Martin said. "I would do anything to see us be able to win SOY in just our fourth year as a program (going into 2017-18). As a senior, you always want to go out on top and this would be the icing on the cake."
Other solid finishes by Adrian in key events in 2016-17 included the B.A.S.S. Midwest Regional Championships on March 29, Cabela's/BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championships on May 25-26 and FLW College Championships on June 1-3. At the BASSMaster Regional event, the team of Serafin and Conner Gough finished in 22nd place of 138 boats; Cabela's/BoatUS Collegiate participants graduate student Caleb Taylor (Zionsville, Ind.)-senior Nick Marsh (Walled Lake, Mich.) came in 40th of 192 boats; junior Dalton Breckel (Brooklyn, Mich.) and senior Jeff Morton (Troy, Mich.) was 35th out of 139 boats at the FLW Championship. A total of eight different team members have contributed points this season toward the Cabela's School of the Year title.
The 2018 FLW College Fishing National Championship is scheduled for May 30-June 2 on the Red River in Shreveport, La., where the Bulldogs have qualified six boats for another program benchmark.
Until then, the Bulldogs will continue to hit the water to hone their skills in the off-season in pursuit of another goal to obtain...a national championship win and Cabela's School of the Year citation.
#ACBASSTEAM #AdrianBulldogs #GoDawgs #BulldogProud
(Editor's note: Amanda Gutierrez, CarecoTV, of the ACA contributed to this report.)