The combination state championship/fund raising banquet was the perfect climax for a near perfect season for the twelve-member Mustang bass team.
The event, held at the Muhlenberg County High School West Campus, gave the county a chance to show their appreciation to the members of the fishing team, their families, coaches and the many volunteers who helped make the Mustangs number one in the state.
Muhlenberg County School Superintendent Randy McCarty was on hand to congratulate the team member.
"This is awesome," McCarty told SurfKY News. "State championships are hard to come by. This team has worked hard, and they deserve this honor. You can't take that away from them."
Mustang seniors Chase Geary and Cameron Brooks brought home the state's top trophy at April's KHSAA state championship, with a total weight of 33 pounds and six ounces. Senior team member Jacob Bowles and Hunter Hampton came in fourth place with a total of twenty-eight pounds and fourteen ounces.
"This is the type of winning program that we as a school district are looking for," McCarty said. "We really want to thank coach Cody Napier and Assistant Coach Paul Barrett for their hard work and dedication, along with that of the team members, the parents and others who volunteered their time throughout the season. We see this as a program with a big future, and one where other students can look at this team and see these positive role models, not just now, and not just for fishing, but for life. That is a huge positive part of this program. All of these young men are outstanding role models for other students. Anything we can get started like do, whether they are state champions or not, if it gets students involved, that is what we are looking for."
Coach Cody Napier was all smiles at the event.
"This year's crowd is bigger than last year's turn out," team coach Cody Napier told SurfKY News. "That just shows how fast this sport is growing, as far as interest and support from the county. I am very pleased. No one knows just how much hard work and dedication this team put into every practice and every competition all season long. We had some truly great, hard to beat competition from teams throughout the state, especially from the counties surrounding Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Bass fishing at this level is not your relaxing day on the lake. This is a highly skilled sport of knowledge, work, patience and persistence. This team has all those quality, and I'm proud to be their coach."
Bass team assistant coach Paul Barrett told SurfKY News that this year's team has shown great skill, making smart moves, working as a team and winning as a team.
"They are each talented in their own special way," Barrett said. "The result is they are, no question, the top team in Kentucky. Every member of this team has worked hard, and practiced hard. They have been coached well by Cody Napier. You could not ask for a better coach, and the proof is in the winning. This team has had opportunities and they have been talented enough to capitalize on those opportunities. This state win means so much. Although bass fishing as a high school sport is still fairly new, there are already a lot of very good teams across Kentucky. This sport is growing by leaps and bounds."
Barrett said, that with the fast grow across west Kentucky and the state in high school bass fishing, he hopes to one day see the state high school fishing tournament be as big as the basketball tournament.
"The interest is defiantly there," Barrett said. "I know they have discussed starting teams in Ohio County and Owensboro."
Barrett's wife, Melanie, works in the Christian County school system. She verified that the board of education there approved starting a bass fishing team.
The evening also featured video highlights of the Mustangs in competition, reeling in the winning bass all season long. Napier said this is just one way he hopes to reach more potential Mustang Bass Fishing Team fans.
"With fishing, people really can't be up close and watch the action," Napier said. "We have gotten a great response from posting season highlights on Youtube. It's a good way for people to be able to see the excitement when you're out on the water and fishing in competition. We're all about whatever we need to do to reach more people and get more fans on board for the 2014-2015 season. We are ready to bring home another first place trophy, but competition is getting rougher. We just have to continue to improve, and this team is great in that area."
Become a Mustang Bass Fishing Team supporter by contacting Coach Napier at (270) 977-7461.
Photos by Paul McRee
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