OK...raise your hands if you knew there was competitive college bass fishing. Fine there are a few of you. Now raise your hands if you knew the University of Minnesota has a college bass fishing team. Maybe one or two. Now raise your hands if you knew that our bass fishing team was good...like National Championship good. Yep...no one.
The team from the University of Minnesota, the duo of Austin Felix and Chris Burgan beat 49 other teams to win the first FLW ever by a northern school. Previous winners included Florida, Kansas State and Louisiana-Monroe.
The Gopher team found itself in seventh place after day one of the competition, and third place after day two. On day three when most of the other teams fished in shallower waters, the Gophers fished the deeper portions of Lake Keowee and had their best day of the tournament, a 14-pound day and leaped into the lead by three pounds, an apparent huge amount in bass fishing.
For winning the tournament, the Gopher team received $30,000 a new fully loaded Ranger Z117 bass boat, and an automatic berth into the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup, the most lucrative and prestigious bass fishing tournament in the world in August. In the Forrest Wood Cup, the team will have a chance to win up to $500,000 and will get to fish in a fully rigged Ranger boat wrapped in Gopher colors and logos.
The most amazing thing about the Gopher's triumph, as has been reported in multiple articles including this one from the Star Tribune is that Felix suffers from long-term Lyme disease, and was feeling awful when they arrived in South Carolina a few days before the tournament. Felix had to go to the hospital due to a horrible reaction from some new medication and was stuck in his hotel room recovering for two days until the start of the competition. They also had not fished all winter due to the weather conditions in the Upper Midwest, and the fact that the Gophers won is damn near miraculous. The entire event will be rebroadcast on the NBCSports network on May 31. Congrats to these Gophers and we wish them luck in August.
Here's a video of the final weigh-in and trophy presentation: