EKU Bassmasters, Fresh off National Title, Ranked #1 Nationally

Bassmasters photo

Fresh off a national championship last summer, the Eastern Kentucky University Bassmasters are ranked number one nationally in pre-season rankings announced recently by Bass Ranks.

EKU’s Jonas Ertel and Tyler Moberly won the nationally televised College Bass National Championship, sponsored by ESPN in July. Also buoyed by two other titles and nine top-10 finishes, the EKU club ranks ahead of much larger schools such as the University of Florida, Texas A & M, Auburn University, Indiana University, University of Georgia, and the University of Tennessee, among others.

Its recent success might have surprised some nationally, but now the target is placed squarely on EKU’s back.

“We’ve always known we could go out and beat any team,” said Moberly, a junior general studies major from Berea and secretary for the club. “Now people expect us to do well.”

Actually, EKU anglers have performed well on the national stage for several years, winning approximately $50,000, half of which has gone directly to the University’s general fund and the other half to the club for travel and equipment expenses.

Ertel, a senior environmental health science major from London, attributed much of the team’s success to the relatively difficult fishing experiences on deeper Kentucky lakes. “It’s tough around here, but we’re used to it.”

“It makes us better fishermen,” Moberly added. “When it gets tough, we’re able to buckle down.”

Ertel and some others in the EKU club plan to fish professionally after graduation. “We take it very seriously,” he said.

Thirteen members comprise the EKU group, although only one duo, determined by intra-team qualifying events, competes at most tournaments.

This is senior Ertle’s last hurrah, but thanks in part to Moberly and sophomore and Vice President Kyle Raymer of Brandenburg, another frequent high finisher in national events, the future is promising for EKU’s club, which is composed entirely of Kentuckians. Other members of the club are Stevie Meek, Grayson; John Smith, Harlan; Matt Salmons, Somerset; Will Pope, Harlan; Geoffrey Roberts, Elizabethtown; James Wathen, Crestwood; Thomas Hardwick, Paintsville; Hunter Robinson, Corbin; Jamilyn Boots, Richmond; and Chris Thomas, Somerset.

Just as EKU’s national prominence lured Raymer, a previous junior world championship fisherman, more and more accomplished young anglers are eyeing Eastern for the opportunity to compete for national titles and gain a college degree in the process.

“Eastern should be set for the next few years,” Ertel said.

The club is advised by Steve Greenwell, an academic adviser at EKU.

Published on February 11, 2011