(Courtesy of The Daily Telegram and sports writer Matt Sisoler)
ADRIAN, Mich.--In 2013, Adrian College decided to form a bass fishing team. It took another year to get going, but the program started up for the 2014-15 school year.
Now, as 2017 begins to wind down, that team has made a name for itself across the nation.
The Bulldog anglers finished 2017 ranked No. 1 in the Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing School of the Year poll, the second time in program history Adrian has topped the chart. They also did it in September of 2015.
There are three main entities that make up the collegiate bass fishing world: Cabela's Collegiate Bass Fishing, Fishing League Worldwide and Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, each with their own championship.
The current rankings run from the start of June of this year until May 2018.
With the backing Adrian anglers have, it's no surprise they have made a big rise in a short time. Coach Seth Borton, a Morenci native and Lenawee Christian graduate, is one of the few college bass fishing coaches that is a full-time employee, which gives him access to his team year round. The team is currently sponsored by 11 local businesses and has had national sponsors, such as Bass Pro Shops, get on the Adrian boat, as well.
"Obviously, there's little expectation that you can go from a start-up team to one of the top teams in the country in a year and a half to two years," Borton said, "but fortunately we've had great partnerships and investments from people in the community, as well as all of the other sponsors I had coming in that helped come in alongside and partner with our team. That really accelerated our growth and success."
Something that always works against the Bulldogs is the fact they are always on the road, sometimes at events as far away as Louisiana. Not just from a logistical standpoint, but trying to game plan, as well.
"That gets to be the tough, tough part of the whole deal," Borton said, "because we are trying to learn and gather in three to five days of practice on the water what certain schools who have been close to that body have water have spent 20 years learning."
But being on the road can also be a good thing. The team has increased awareness of the Bulldog brand across the nation. With three trucks and three boats wrapped in Adrian College decals and multiple student-athletes wearing Bulldogs gear at competitions, people from a long ways from Michigan are picking up what Adrian is putting down, which is good for the future of the program.
"With our exposure and with us being No. 1, I get emails from all over the country from kids that are trying to be part of a fully-funded team," Borton said, "so that's sharpened our sword in terms of recruiting, for sure."
The Bulldogs have 32 anglers on their roster, and this year, the team has been excelling at competitions, having taken four first-place finishes, along with one second and one third place.
Senior Jarrett Martin, who is one of the leaders on the team, said he believes Adrian will finish better than it did last year.
"With the wins this season, it really puts our heads where they need to be," Martin said. "We know what we've got to do now to execute every time at every tournament. We've got some really good guys this year that know how to put things together when they need to, and I feel like this season is going to come to a lot better end than last time."
#AdrianBulldogs #GoDawgs #BulldogProud